Back pain is one of the most common pain related complaints among adults. In fact, estimates suggest that up to 25% of adults in the US experience low back pain. Pain in the back can manifest in many ways, and can be short term or chronic.
Treatments also vary, but generally include some type of over-the-counter pain reliever. In severe cases, a doctor may even prescribe pain medications like opioids to help manage debilitating pain. The problem with these common remedies is that they often come with a lengthy list of potential side effects, leaving many people looking for a more natural option.
Enter Delta-8-THC, the legal cannabis alternative that's being touted as a remedy for pain and many other conditions that respond to traditional cannabis therapies. If you're here, you're probably wondering—what are the benefits and risks of using Delta-8 for back pain? Researchers are still working out the full extent of Delta-8's benefits, but here's what we know for now:Table of Contents
Delta-8 is a phytocannabinoid similar to CBD or traditional THC. It can interact with the body's Endocannabinoid System, a system of neurotransmitters and neuroreceptors that plays a role in regulating important bodily functions like mood, sleep, appetite, and yes, pain.
On a molecular basis, Delta-8-THC looks almost identical to Delta-9-THC, the active psychoactive component in medicinal cannabis. In fact, the two compounds differ only in the placement of their double bond, with Delta-8's at the 8th chain position and Delta-9's at the 9th. Their similarities allow them to interact in the body in very similar ways, which is why Delta-8-THC also has psychoactive effects like traditional THC products.
Still, unlike Delta-9, which only interacts with the CB1 receptor (the receptor in the brain and central nervous system that incites psychoactivity), Delta-8-THC interacts with both CB1 and CB2 receptors.
CB2 interactions are not psychoactive. That means that every dose of Delta-8-THC is split between both psychoactive receptors and non-psychoactive receptors. In other words, a dose of Delta-8 has less potent psychoactive effects than the same dose of Delta-9.
For many people hoping to reap Delta-8's therapeutic benefits, this is great because it makes Delta-8 more functional than traditional THC products. Plus, the CB2 interaction, an attribute that Delta-9 doesn't have, may also have its own therapeutic benefits against back pain, but more research is needed to fully understand how.
The most important difference between Delta-8 and Delta-9, however, is that Delta-8 can be made from CBD that is extracted from hemp. Because it's a hemp product and not a high-THC cannabis product, it is federally legal and even legal in many states.
In other words Delta-8 is both more functional and more accessible than traditional THC, which leaves many people curious about the potential for using Delta-8 for back pain.
We mentioned that Delta-8 research is limited, but also that Delta-8 is incredibly similar to Delta-9. In fact, many experts believe that it's safe to assume that Delta-8 will provide many of the same benefits as Delta-9 because they both activate the CB-1 receptor in the same manner.
Delta-9-THC has been widely accepted as an analgesic compound for decades, and pain is one of the most common qualifying conditions for medical cannabis in states where it is legal.
One study found that mild to moderate doses of Delta-9-THC could be effective in treating neuropathic pain, a type of pain that is notoriously difficult to treat. In most cases where a patient did not experience relief from Delta-8, there was one common caveat–the psychoactive effects were not well tolerated because they caused anxiety and paranoia.
This is a great example of why many people are interested in Delta-8’s potential for managing pain, including back pain. If Delta-8 can provide similar analgesic effects to Delta-9-THC, it may do so without the same negative drawbacks. Research has found that Delta-8 may be less likely to incite paranoia and anxiety, even when given to children at high doses.
So, is there any research relating to the use of Delta-8 for back pain? Not specifically, but research has confirmed that Delta-8 may act on the CB-1 receptor to mediate pain just like Delta-9. One 2018 study showed Delta-8-THC’s interaction with the CB1 receptor enabled it to reduce both pain and inflammation. The authors of this study, which was performed on mice, concluded that Delta-8 has promising pain-relieving effects that may translate to human studies.
The National Cancer Institute has also weighed in on the topic. They define Delta-8 as an “analogue of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) with antiemetic, anxiolytic, appetite-stimulating, analgesic, and neuroprotective properties.”
All in all, we need to know a lot more about Delta-8’s impact on specific types of back pain. Still, the foundational research suggests great potential, and anecdotal reports consistently show people finding great success when using Delta-8 for back pain.
If you’d like to give it a shot for yourself, here’s how to do it:
Using Delta-8-THC for back pain is fairly straightforward, but you'll want to make some careful considerations regarding the type of product you use and the dosage you take, especially if you are not experienced with THC products. Here are some tips:
First consider the different dosing methods and their unique benefits and drawbacks. For instance, Delta-8-THC gummies are a delicious, simple dosing method that comes pre-portioned, which makes it incredibly easy to track and manage your dosage. Of course, Edibles need to be digested before the Delta-8 can reach the bloodstream, which means you may wait around 90 minutes to feel the full effects.
For some people, fast acting effects are more useful. In this case, you may consider a Delta-8 tincture, an oil form of Delta-8 that's designed to be dropped under the tongue. This sublingual form of delivery allows Delta-8 to be absorbed almost immediately, and you typically can feel the effects within 30 minutes.
Sublingual style edibles meld the benefits of tinctures and gummies. They are pre-portioned, delicious, and convenient, but instead of chewing and swallowing them you simply allow them to dissolve in your mouth. This also allows Delta-8 to be absorbed sublingually, leading to faster acting effects.
Read ourGuide to Delta-8 Edibles to learn more.
Delta-8 vaporizers and flowerare a popular choice among therapeutic users because they provide effects that are almost instant and have the added benefit of terpenes, the aromatic compounds found in cannabis that also have their own therapeutic effects. If you're interested in using Delta-8 Flower for back pain, we recommend reading "The Best Delta-8- THC Strains for Pain."
Regardless of the product type you choose, you need to consider your Delta-8 dosage carefully. If you choose an edible, you may not have as much control over your dosage, although some edibles can still be halved or portioned to better suit your needs. If you are uncertain about your Delta-8 dose, a tincture may be convenient because you can adjust the dosage in small increments as needed.
Either way, if you're new to THC products, we recommend that you start small and increase your dosage over time. Many people start with doses as low as 5 to 10 mg. Be sure to give adequate time for Delta-8 to kick in before you decide to increase your dosage.
We also advise that you keep track of your doses and how you feel in a wellness journal. Then you can refer to this information as you adjust your next dosage, at least until you're comfortable with your dosing routine.
To learn more about Delta-8 dosage for back pain, we recommend reading "How Much Delta-8-THC Should I Take?"
For many people, Delta-8-THC may be effective on its own for mediating back pain. Others like to combine Delta-8 with a daily CBD dose, which is known to have its own potential benefits for managing pain.
Most commonly, though, people find that while Delta-8-THC is effective on its own, it's not always the best option for managing back pain in every situation. For instance, you can't take Delta-8-THC before driving or operating machinery. Because it's psychoactive, it may not be the best option for managing pain during the day when you'll need to go into the office or run errands.
Instead, you may consider a combination of regular CBD doses to help stave off discomfort and Delta-8-THC doses as a spot treatment for more severe discomfort. Because CBD is not psychoactive, you can use it to manage discomfort in nearly any situation.
We mentioned that Delta-8 research is limited, and that also applies to research regarding Delta-8-THC safety. We do, however, have some evidence that helps us understand that Delta-8's safety profile is likely similar to that of Delta-9.
In some cases, researchers even suggested that Delta-8 may be a safer alternative because it's psychoactive effects are milder. For instance, in one study researchers found that Delta-8-THC was a better solution than Delta-9 for managing nausea in pediatric cancer patients. The reason? It could be given in much higher doses without the same side effects, like anxiety and paranoia. In fact, the study found Delta-8 to have a 100% success rate at resolving chemotherapy-induced nausea, and with only negligible side effects, even in children.
Like all THC products, Delta 8 may have some mild side effects. These could include:
Generally speaking, the safety of a Delta-8-THC product may have more to do with the brand and manufacturing process. Delta-8-THC is a hemp-derived, natural cannabinoid, but the hemp industry is not consistently regulated. That means that while it's possible to get a high-quality, clean Delta-8-THC product, not all Delta-8 brands are trustworthy.
Look for a product made from U.S. grown, pesticide-free hemp material that's been third-party tested before sale. You should also look at the other ingredients used in the product to ensure that there are no allergens or other ingredients you should avoid. Using a high-quality Delta-8-THC product at appropriate dosages can help greatly reduce the risk of any adverse effects.
Since Delta-8 can be made from legal hemp material, it’s incredibly accessible in the U.S. and can be bought both in stores and online in any state where Deta-8 is legal. For high-quality Delta-8 products in a range of flavors and potencies, we recommend checking out our Elev8 Collection. All of our Delta-8-THC products are 100% Farm Bill compliant and third-party tested, with results you can view on page before you buy.
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