Is Delta 8 THC Safe? Knowing the Side Effects of D8

Illustration of a woman holding delta 8 products
Written by Nina Julia | Last updated: September 10, 2021

Delta 8 THC has only recently become the new hot topic on the cannabis market.

Like all new products, it also makes people wonder and ask, “is delta 8 THC safe?” 

The risks associated with this new cannabinoid can be unclear, as scientific research is underway to cover its properties. However, the similarities between delta 8 and delta 9 THC allow us to make certain assumptions about its safety profile.

Delta 8 THC seems to be safer than delta 9 THC when used responsibly. It doesn’t get the user as high as normal weed, and it has a lower incidence of anxiety and paranoia.

That being said, there are things to watch out for — such as contaminated products and the associated side effects.

In today’s article, we’ll closely examine the safety profile of delta 8 THC, highlighting potential risks and how you can avoid them by using a few simple tricks.

Is Delta 8 THC Safe?

Although there aren’t many studies that would analyze the safety profile of delta 8, current findings indicate that there aren’t any considerable health risks associated with D8 THC oil tincture products and even gummies or vapes.

However, its short-term and long-term effects on the body need to be carefully examined before drawing any conclusions.

As with any natural compound, there is some risk involved with taking it; use delta 8 THC responsibly and discontinue the use if you notice any alarming signs.

We know that delta 8 THC and delta 9 THC interact similarly with our endocannabinoid systems (ECS). It’s the system that helps maintain balance in your body, regulating a wide range of physiological functions in every organ.

Cannabis is made of cannabinoids — like CBD, delta 9 THC, and delta 8 THC — that engage with these receptors. This interaction has medical professionals considering the therapeutic properties of cannabis on various health conditions.

Although the effects of delta 8 and delta 9 THC are comparable, delta 8 THC is about half as strong as its more famous cousin. It binds to the CB1 receptor and has an affinity to the CB2 receptor, making it more calming and less trippy.

Hyperactivity, paranoia, and anxiety are very rare among delta 8 THC users.

How to Minimize the Risk When Using Delta 8 THC Products

  • Determine the right dosage. Delta 8 THC is active at around 5–10 mg.
  • Observe your tolerance and take tolerance breaks if needed
  • Consult your doctor before using delta 8 if you’re taking any medications or have an underlying health problem
  • Always purchase D8 from reputable vendors that publish certificates of analysis for all products.
  • Avoid fake and untested products, especially vapes.
  • Never use delta 8 THC if you’re about to drive a vehicle or operate heavy machinery
  • Don’t take delta 8 THC if you’re under 21.

What Are the Short-Term Risks of Delta 8 THC?

A few short-term side effects are associated with delta 8 THC, but they’re similar to those involved in using delta 9 THC. Everybody reacts differently to tetrahydrocannabinol, and some people might be more sensitive to its cognitive effects.

The main short-term side effects of delta 8 THC include:

  • Dry mouth
  • Problems with coordination
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Physical distortion

Most people will experience at least one or two side effects, mainly dry mouth, and physical distortion. However, they’re relatively minimal and more of an inconvenience than a real risk to your health.

Nevertheless, these symptoms may continue to worsen over time; should that happen, you need to stop using delta 8 THC until the symptoms dissipate.

What Are the Long-Term Risks of Delta 8 THC?

Research is minimal when it comes to the long-term risks associated with delta 8 THC. It possesses similar side effects to delta 9 THC, as both cannabinoids are classified as tetrahydrocannabinol.

Like delta 9, young people could be at a higher risk of developing behavioral addiction. Their brains are more susceptible to the cognitive effects of delta 8 THC, as they’re still growing.

Those who haven’t yet hit the age of 21 should abstain from all forms of THC.

The main long-term risks linked to delta 9 THC — and probably to delta 8 too — include:

  • Reduced attention span
  • Reduced cognitive function
  • Short-term memory problems
  • Dependency and addiction (rare)
  • Acute psychosis (in reactive individuals)

Although the above risks may sound scary, it’s important to note that research is scarce, so most of these side effects are only theoretical.

Some people report experiencing these long-term reactions, especially with heavy use, but the same might not be the case for delta 8 THC.

Again, it’s worth noting that everybody reacts differently to THC and other substances. Some people may not experience any side effects at all, whereas others may notice them. In many cases, these effects go away upon a prolonged period of cessation.

To sum up, although the research is still in its infancy, the long-term risks associated with delta 8 THC are relatively benign.

Is Delta 8 THC Dangerous?

a man holding a jar of hemp buds

As we mentioned earlier, delta 8 THC may have some side effects if you use it irresponsibly. You may experience some mild short-term side effects and some temporary long-term side effects. However, these vary between individuals, and most don’t entail significant risks to overall health.

There are risks involved with any substance — be it a natural or chemical compound —  so it’s important to watch how your body responds to delta 8 THC to ensure no negative reactions occur before trying a larger dose.

Can You Overdose On Delta 8 THC?

There have been no official records on overdoses from delta 8 THC.

As with other cannabinoids from hemp and marijuana, it’s physically impossible to overdose on delta 8 THC.

Although both delta 8 and delta 9 THC can get you high in large amounts, the dose needed to cause serious harm is ridiculously high. No medical report has yet alarmed about lethal overdoses from cannabis or its derivatives.

However, you can certainly have a bad experience with both cannabinoids if you take too much. Nausea, paranoia, anxiety, and confusion can occur when using too much delta 8 or delta 8 THC.

That being said, it takes really a lot of delta 8 THC to have this discomfort. You’ll need a significantly higher dose of delta 8 THC than delta 9 THC to have a bad experience since the former is less stimulating due to a lower strength.

The Risks of Buying Contaminated Delta 8 THC Products

The greatest risk associated with using delta 8 THC products is the problem with contamination.

It’s not the delta 8 THC that may put you at serious risk; you may be at risk from some of the harmful additives and chemicals occurring in the extract. Synthetic additives, heavy metals, solvent residues, and bleaches can be extremely dangerous for your health.

That’s why we always underscore the importance of buying delta 8 THC products from reputable brands.

It’s also paramount to look at third-party lab reports for any product you want to buy and use. Any trustworthy company will openly show these results on its website.

The best practice is to link to these reports on the product pages.

What Is Third-Party Testing?

When a company produces a cannabinoid extract, they can send it to an independent laboratory for meticulous testing. During these tests, the lab analyzes the cannabinoid content and any contaminants present in the extract.

Delta 8 THC brands usually display these results to potential customers — either on their websites or on request via email. If a vendor is transparent, you should have no problems receiving these results.

Please don’t trust any company that doesn’t test its products for pesticides or hides the lab reports.

How to Read Certificates of Analysis

The lab reports are contained in the form of a certificate of analysis (COA). 

First, you need to make sure that the COA is up-to-date. The code and date should be visible at the top of the report.

Once the results are relevant, check the delta 8 THC content to verify the manufacturer’s claims. Next, move to the section with contaminants, where you can see the percentage of pesticides, heavy metals, bleaches, and other toxic compounds.

If there are any impurities in the product, you should avoid purchasing it. Take an in-depth look at lab reports before you buy from any company; doing so will help you minimize the risk of buying unsafe delta 8 THC. 

For this reason, when you look for places to buy D8 THC products, it is advisable to look online rather than locally as you can take closer to its manufacturing, process and it allows you to have a wider selection of the best products you can choose from.

Can You Suffer from Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome When Taking Delta 8 THC?

Also known as CHS, Cannabinoid Hyperemesis Syndrome is a rare condition in a small percentage of heavy cannabis users. This condition can trigger bouts of nausea, abdominal pain, and vomiting following the consumption of THC.

So, what are the statistics surrounding CHS, and can delta 8 THC products increase the risk of this condition?

Fortunately, CHS is relatively rare. Although no study has yet examined the exact figures, very few people report experiencing CHD symptoms, and it’s not the main cause of emergency room visits linked to cannabis use.

CHS primarily affects heavy users. Although the cause remains unknown, it rarely happens to occasional users. There are no apparent indicators that bring on its symptoms, and the condition itself appears to affect people randomly.

It’s unclear whether or not delta 8 THC can cause CHS, but since delta 9 can do it, it’s certainly possible.

The symptoms of CHS should leave you within 48 hours after you stop using cannabis.

Is Delta 8 THC Addictive?

When it comes to the way people perceive addiction, delta 8 THC isn’t addictive but rather habit-forming. Delta 8 THC doesn’t cause physical addiction, meaning your body won’t become dependent on it.

Although we lack studies into delta 8 THC and addiction, one study suggests that cannabis can become habit-forming and cause behavioral addiction after prolonged use.

You probably won’t suffer from withdrawal symptoms once you stop using delta 8 THC, and you also shouldn’t need to deal with severe cravings. However, any substance or activity that affects your brain’s reward system and dopamine levels can become mentally addictive — especially if you’re prone to addictions.

Delta 8 THC produces pleasant effects, so it can become addictive if you use it responsibly. People often use psychoactive substances to escape from reality or cover a past and unresolved trauma, leading to forming bad habits around them.

Delta 8 THC is capable of alleviating discomfort and stress. Therefore, it’s important to use it in moderation and observe how your body responds to this cannabinoid. If you feel that dependency on delta 8 THC is knocking at your door, a T-break should help.

Can You Build Tolerance to Delta 8 THC?

a hemp bud on a hand and a bottle od Delta 8 THC extract in bottle

Like delta 9 THC, delta 8 THC does form tolerance; you’ll need to increase your dose over time to achieve the same effects with regular use. This alone may lead to irresponsible use that revolves around getting high.

Controlling your tolerance to delta 8 THC will help you enjoy its cognitive effects without increasing the risk of behavioral addiction. 

Not to mention that it can save you money, as you won’t need to use that much.

How to Prevent Tolerance from Building Up

It’s very simple.

You can use the same process as controlling your delta 9 THC tolerance: by taking no-use periods.

These periods are known as tolerance breaks, and they mean that you don’t consume any THC, so your body has time to recalibrate its CB1 receptors.

THC binds to the CB1 receptors in the brain, producing a high feeling. When you use it continuously for several weeks or months, these receptors can become depleted.

This is where tolerance breaks are helpful. They give the receptors a break, providing more time to recover to interact with delta 8 THC more efficiently.

How you manage your tolerance breaks depends on your needs and preferences. Everybody is different, and some people may need more time for their CB1 receptors to get back to normal.

A bit of trial and error should help you figure out the best practices for taking a tolerance break from delta 8 THC.

Concluding: Is Delta 8 THC Safe?

Yes, delta 8 THC is relatively safe, especially when you use it responsibly. However, similar to any substance, there are some risks involved with its use.

We need more studies to draw definitive conclusions about the long-term side effects and risks associated with delta 8 THC. Nevertheless, delta 8 doesn’t seem to pose any immediate health risk, as with other cannabinoids.

If you’re considering buying delta 8 THC gummies, tinctures, or vape pens, make sure to purchase your products from reputable vendors that publish relevant lab reports for all their products; doing so can help you avoid potential risks associated with using contaminated hemp extracts.

Last but not least, give your body some time to adapt. Start with low doses and observe your body’s response to this cannabinoid — adjusting the dosage as needed. If you feel the need, take a tolerance break to give your CB1 receptors some time to regenerate.

We hope this article has given you an insight into the safety profile of delta 8 THC. From there, you can continue doing your own research. Be sure to check our other educational articles in the blog section — and leave a comment if you like what we do!

Nina created CFAH.org following the birth of her second child. She was a science and math teacher for 6 years prior to becoming a parent — teaching in schools in White Plains, New York and later in Paterson, New Jersey.

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