Medical-Cannabis research in the United States is, and always has been, limited to providing the dangers and not the therapeutic benefits. Despite the legalization of medical-cannabis in various states across the nation, the federal government still continues to enforce restrictive policies and regulations on research. When it comes to medical-cannabis as medicine, much of the evidence is anecdotal. When communicating with individuals that have used medical-cannabis there are many first hand cancer patients using it for antiemetic and anti-nausea therapy, or others using it for its anti-inflammatory properties, but a cursory search into scientific research on the subject will show how limited it has been. As long as the plant is classified as a Schedule 1 drug, the research on medical-cannabis as medicine will be restricted in the United States. Luckily, there has been research conducted in other countries — along with accidental discoveries during other studies in the U.S. — that have helped to prove the efficiency of certain cannabinoids in the plant, including Delta 8 THC. That research has led the National Cancer Institute Drug Dictionary to recognize that Delta 8 THC has multiple beneficial effects, including analgesia, appetite stimulation, and neuroprotective properties.
DELTA-8-THC - The details
Dr. Thompson, PhD is a separations scientist possessing a Doctorate Degree in Chemistry. He is the C.E.O. of extracktLAB, which manufactures leading-edge, supercritical CO2 extraction equipment primarily used by the botanical extraction industries.
Potential Therapeutic Properties
Research Demonstrates Cancer-fighting properties. It has long been hypothesized that medical-cannabis could play an active role in fighting cancer, and there are studies as far back as the 1970s that back up this theory. One of the only studies regarding Delta-8 THC as a cancer treatment occurred back in 1974, with government researchers using mice infected with lung cancer to try and determine if Delta 8-THC was harmful to the immune system. An unexpected discovery occurred during the study, though, after researchers realized that the mice who had been treated with Delta-8 THC for a period of 20 days actually had reduced tumor sizes. Researchers also found that survival time went up when mice with cancer were treated with Delta-8 THC. Unfortunately, any further research into the subject was limited in the decades following that 1974 study due to hemp and cannabis’ legal status in the U.S.. After all, a report by the National Cancer Institute noted that Delta-8 THC, Delta-9 THC, and CBD were all shown to have the ability to stop tumor growth. An analogue of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) with antiemetic, anxiolytic, appetite-stimulating, analgesic, and neuroprotective properties. This agent exhibits a lower psychotropic potency than Delta 9 tetrahydrocannabinol (Delta-9 THC), the primary form of THC found in medical-cannabis.
Anecdotal evidence has long led medical-cannabis users to believe in the antiemetic properties of the plant; however, it was backed up by scientific research that occurred in Israel in 1995. As part of a research project into the antiemetic properties of medical-cannabis, Israeli researchers administered Delta-8 THC to pediatric cancer patients who were suffering from nausea associated with chemotherapy. What they found was that it dramatically cured the nausea of the patients, with a 100% success rate over 480 treatments — and with negligible side-effects (including psychoactive effects). The U.S. Government also has a patent on the antiemetic uses of Delta-8 THC, furthering the idea that Delta-8 THC can help alleviate nausea and vomiting in cancer patients. As part of the research for one of the patents of the cannabinoid, Delta-8 THC was shown to be 200 percent more effective as an antiemetic when compared to Delta-9 THC.
Delta-8 THC has also been shown to have appetite stimulating properties. Researchers found during a 2004 study by Avraham et al. that rodents treated with low doses of Delta-8 THC had appetites that were stimulated more than those treated with Delta-9 THC, which is the cannabinoid medical-cannabis is most known for.
Delta-8 THC may also have a role to play as an anti-anxiety therapeutic. Therapeutics which inhibit anxiety are referred to as anxiolytics and Delta-8 THC is categorized as an “analogue of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) with antiemetic, anxiolytic, appetite-stimulating, analgesic, and neuroprotective properties” — meaning that the NIH considers this cannabinoid to have anti-anxiety properties.
Delta-8 THC is also much less likely to induce anxiety in high doses than its more widely known counterpart, Delta-9 THC. Research has shown that Delta-8 THC has less psychoactive potency than its analogue Delta-9 THC, and it appears to offer a more clear-minded experience with less anxiety, too.
Research has shown that Delta-8 THC has less psychoactive potency than its sister Delta-9 THC. Researchers have estimated the potency to be about two-thirds of the potency of Delta-9 THC. The “high” from Delta-8 THC has been described as more clear-headed when compared to Delta-9 THC, and people who have used it often note less of an impact on concentration and anxiety, though it still retains its medicinal properties.
Delta-8 may also have some promise when it comes to treating cognitive issues like Alzheimer’s disease. The 2004 study referenced above by Avraham et al. also found “a tendency (of Delta-8-THC) to improve cognitive function.” A study from 1987 using mouse models (HL Tripathi et al.) found that delta-8 THC increased acetylcholine levels in the cortex and hippocampus, and decreased acetylcholine turnover in hippocampus. This is relevant because Alzheimer’s disease is associated with declining levels of ACH in the brain.
Another study from 1994 (Mechoulam et al.) found that oral Delta-8 THC significantly reduced the incidence and severity of neurological deficit in experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis in rats.
Delta-8 THC may also be a potential therapeutic for pain and inflammation. A 2018 study by Thapa et al. found that topical Delta-8 THC decreased corneal pain and inflammation in an experimental mouse model.
Delta-8 THC cannabinoid could prove to be especially helpful for patients with GI issues, given that a 2004 review in the BJP (Hornby and Prouty), concluded that “the beneficial effects of CB1R activation in animal models include reduction of transient lower esophageal sphincter relaxations, increased compliance of the proximal stomach, reduced acid secretion, reduction of GI transit, reduced intestinal fluid secretion in response to secretogogues and reduced large intestinal propulsive activity are all aspects that could be beneficial in functional bowel disorders such as IBS. However, administration of CB1R agonists to patients would be associated with CBS adverse effects due to the psychotropic actions.” A number of other studies in patients with IBD have shown that hemp and cannabis can result in decreased symptoms and fewer medications needed.
While there is no specific research into Delta-8 THC as a treatment of opioid addiction, there is some hope that certain cannabinoids may be useful in the fight against opioid addiction. Many researchers believe that cannabidiol, or CBD, which is the second most abundant component of medical-cannabis, is thought to modulate various neuronal circuits involved in drug addiction, and the limited research done on the subject appears to back that up. A number of preclinical studies have suggested that CBD may have therapeutic properties on opioid, cocaine, and psychostimulant addiction. We will not know whether Delta-8 THC can help treat opioid addiction until more research is done on the subject, but so far, the outlook is promising.