Delta-8 and CBD: Similarities and Differences

  • CBD

The U.S. legal cannabis market is projected to double by 2025, reaching a valuation of $41.5 billion. 

As more people become aware of these powerful plants, the conversation is widening, along with perspectives. If you’ve consumed cannabis for a while, you may be familiar with Delta-9. 

Also known as delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, this is the technical term for THC. One of the most well-known cannabinoids in marijuana, THC contains psychoactive properties that deliver a feeling of euphoria when ingested.

However, this isn’t the only chemical compound to know. Have you heard of Delta-8?

If you’re looking for a new way to feel great, this is an important substance to watch. Today, we’re taking a closer look at the similarities and differences between Delta-9 and another one of its close relatives, CBD. 

What Is Delta-8?

Delta-8, or Delta-8 THC, is a minor cannabinoid in marijuana.

Naturally, it’s found in very small concentrations. In fact, it only makes up around 0.01% of the entire hemp plant. This is because it’s not directly produced by marijuana’s cannabinoid-synthesizing enzymes. 

Rather, it occurs when Delta-9 THC is allowed to remain stagnant for an extended period of time. This happens when hemp plants are kept in storage, and their flowers are exposed to significant levels of oxygen. 

As this occurs, Delta-9 degrades into Delta-8.

As you might expect, it can be a laborious and time-consuming effort to generate this compound. Then, once it’s made, the quantities are usually insignificant and aren’t significant enough to distribute.

In response to this predicament, commercial growers and extractors have developed a workaround. Using advanced techniques including selective breeding and molecular isolation, they can now produce much larger quantities of Delta-8. The result is a man-made substance that functions much like THC.

Delta-8 vs. Delta-9

When the term “THC” is used, most speakers are referring to Delta-9 THC. This is the primary form of THC present in cannabis and is the most commercially available option. 

As an analog of Delta-9, Delta-8 is much more elusive. 

Still, it does possess many of the same properties you might expect. For instance, both forms of THC are found to stimulate appetite, soothe pain and even keep nausea at bay. 

The primary difference? The psychoactive properties of Delta-9 aren’t quite as strong in Delta-8.

With this substance, you’ll only find a mild psychotropic, though the intensity is about one-third less than you’d expect from Delta-9. This is primarily because Delta-8 has a much more stable molecular structure. 

THC For Pain Relief

Both Delta-8 and Delta-9 bind to your body’s CB1 and CB2 receptors to help relieve pain and induce relaxation. However, Delta-8 has a lower affinity for these receptors, resulting in a lessened effect. 

Why is this the case?

Both forms of THC feature double bonds in their molecular chains. In Delta-9, that bond is located on the 9th carbon chain. In Delta-8, it’s located on the 8th carbon chain. While this difference might not sound too significant, it plays a role in the way your body’s endocannabinoid receptors bind to each molecule.

While some might consider the milder high a drawback, it’s pushing Delta-8 into the limelight, especially in the medical field. 

In one study, researchers administered Delta-9 THC to 172 patients suffering from central neuropathic pain. Before the study was over, 48 of those patients withdrew prematurely for a range of reasons, including discomfort from the THC’s side effects. In all, about 25% of patients did not tolerate the treatment. 

While Delta-8 studies have mostly been performed on animal subjects, the early results are promising. For instance, one recent trial showed that topical Delta-8 can effectively relieve pain and inflammation in rats. 

With its ability to relieve pain and discomfort, Delta-8 could offer a more viable, sound way to treat illnesses using marijuana. It’s also more stable than Delta-9 and does not oxidize to become cannabinol. These features also contribute to its longer shelf life. 

Another benefit? Users also report that the high they feel from Delta-8 is refreshingly clear, nearly devoid of the paranoia and anxiety that can accompany a Delta-9 high.

Delta-8 vs. CBD

Now that we’ve covered how Delta-8 compares to Delta-9, let’s talk about CBD. This is the second most abundant compound found in hemp plants, following Delta-9 THC. 

Unlike both forms of THC, CBD is not psychoactive. This means it will not get you high, but it can help relax your nerves, clear your mind, and stabilize your mood. 

Chemically, Delta-8 and CBD are very different. This makes them a little easier to compare and contrast than Delta-8 vs. Delta-9.

In addition to the differences in psychoactivity, it’s also important to note that, like Delta-8, CBD has a very low binding affinity for CB1 and CB2 receptors. Instead, it activates other receptors and ion channels within your body, such as your brain’s 5-HT1A serotonin receptor.

When this action occurs, it can help stimulate feelings of well-being and reduce sensations of:

  • Pain
  • Anxiety
  • Nausea 

For most people, ingesting CBD is an all-around positive experience. This substance is much lesser-known for damaging or potentially risky side effects and creates a comfortable, calming effect. In addition, CBD has also been in the spotlight much longer and as such, is more thoroughly researched than Delta-8. 

Risks and Benefits 

The benefits of CBD are well-known and abundant. They are similar to Delta-8, with the critical exception being that the latter will deliver a euphoric sensation, while CBD will not. 

A few of the most commonly reported health and wellness benefits of CBD include:

  • Better, more restorative sleep
  • Pain relief
  • Lessened anxiety
  • Appetite stimulation
  • Lower stress levels
  • Better memory and retention

You can experience many of these same effects with both Delta-8 and Delta-9 THC. However, keep in mind that if you want to manage your symptoms without feeling high, CBD is your best bet. It delivers a balanced, well-tolerated result with only a few known side effects, such as:

  • Drowsiness
  • Dry mouth
  • Fatigue

To date, very few adverse side effects have been studied or associated with Delta-8. This is in comparison to Delta-9, which can result in negative reactions when consumed in excess, including:

  • Increased heart rate
  • Distorted coordination and motor skills
  • Memory challenges
  • Respiratory distress
  • Slowed reaction times
  • Weakened immune systems

Of course, it’s always a smart idea to speak to your physician before starting any kind of supplement routine, including one that incorporates CBD or Delta-8. This is especially true if you’re currently taking any medications. There are some prescriptions, including ones for blood thinners, that should not be combined with these substances. 


For now, CBD is more accessible than Delta-8. This is simply because it’s been on the market for a longer period of time and there’s more research on it. However, it’s anticipated that Delta-8 will soon be available via more avenues. 

Today, you can find Delta-8 in a variety of formats. Some of the most popular ones include:

  • Gummies
  • Distillates
  • Vape cartridges

It’s also commercially available in different flavors. This makes it relatively easy to find one to suit your needs and preferences. In comparison, CBD is also available in the above formats.

At Etanicals, we sell both full-spectrum and broad-spectrum CBD in a variety of oils, including hemp oil, MCT oil, and camellia oil. Full-spectrum CBD oil contains most of the naturally-occurring cannabis plant extracts, including up to 0.3% THC. Broad-spectrum CBD contains many of these same extracts, but is usually devoid of THC. 

A Word on Legality

Like other byproducts of industrial hemp, CBD is legal nationwide. It was officially removed as an illegal substance under the Agricultural Improvement Act of 2018. This law federally legalized both hemp and hemp-derived products, as long as they contain no more than 0.3% of Delta-9 THC. 

Yet, what about Delta-8? Is it federally legal, too?

As long as it’s naturally derived from the hemp plant and its THC content is less than 0.3%, then the answer is “yes”. However, keep in mind that each state is free to devise its own rules and regulations. Legalization on the federal level is a big step forward, but individual states can still create their own guidelines.

For instance, some states have only legalized CBD and Delta-8 for medicinal use. Others, such as Montana, have classified it as illegal at the state level. However, there are other states where you can easily purchase both for recreational use. 

Shop For CBD Today

Now that we’ve covered a little more about how Delta-8 compares to Delta-9 and CBD, are you ready to jumpstart a new wellness routine? Both substances can calm your nerves, reduce your stress, and lower your pain.

However, while Delta-8 is still being researched and reviewed, it’s best to stick to CBD. This is an all-natural substance proven to work effectively without any major risks.

We have plenty of CBD oils in our online shop. Feel free to browse our collection today and reach out to our team if you have any questions!


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