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What are the side effects of Delta 8?

Delta 8 tetrahydrocannabinol, commonly known as delta 8 THC, is a psychoactive compound found in the cannabis plant. Delta 8 THC produces similar effects as delta 9 THC, the main psychoactive compound in cannabis, but it is less potent. While delta 8 provides some potential therapeutic benefits, it also has some side effects to be aware of.

What is Delta 8 THC?

Delta 8 THC is one of over 100 cannabinoids produced naturally by the cannabis plant. It is chemically similar to delta 9 THC, differing by only a few atomic bonds. Delta 8 occurs in very small concentrations in most cannabis strains, usually less than 1%.

Delta 8 can be extracted and concentrated from hemp or cannabis plants through a chemical process involving CBD isolation and conversion to delta 8 THC. The final delta 8 products typically contain around 95% pure delta 8 mixed with terpenes and other minor cannabinoids.

Delta 8 is considered a psychoactive cannabinoid because it binds to the CB1 receptors in the brain, causing the “high” associated with cannabis use. However, delta 8 is around 50-75% as psychoactive as delta 9 THC, producing a milder high.

Potential Therapeutic Benefits of Delta 8

Early research suggests delta 8 THC may offer some similar health benefits as delta 9 THC and other cannabinoids:

  • Reduced nausea and vomiting
  • Increased appetite
  • Pain relief
  • Reduced inflammation
  • Neuroprotective effects
  • Anxiolytic (anti-anxiety) effects

However, large-scale human studies are still needed to confirm the therapeutic potential of delta 8 THC.

Side Effects of Delta 8 THC

Delta 8 does come with some potential side effects, similar to delta 9 THC. Possible side effects include:

Psychotropic Effects

The “high” from delta 8 THC results from its psychoactive effects. It causes changes in mood, perception, cognition, and behavior. The psychotropic effects typically include:

  • Euphoria
  • Feelings of relaxation and calmness
  • Altered sensory perception
  • Changed awareness of time
  • Impaired balance and coordination
  • Difficulty with complex mental tasks
  • Short-term memory issues
  • Anxiety or paranoia (in high doses)

These effects tend to come on around 30-60 minutes after ingesting delta 8 and can last for up to 6 hours depending on the dose, delivery method, and individual factors.

Increased Heart Rate and Blood Pressure

Delta 8, like delta 9 THC, can increase heart rate and blood pressure temporarily after use. This effect is most prominent shortly after ingestion. These effects could increase the risk of cardiovascular complications in those with pre-existing heart conditions.

Impaired Motor Skills and Coordination

Delta 8 affects parts of the brain that control movement and coordination. It can impair balance, motor function, reaction time, and concentration. These effects may increase the risk of accidents or falls if a person drives or operates machinery while intoxicated.

Red Eyes and Dry Mouth

Like delta 9 THC, delta 8 can cause side effects like red, bloodshot eyes and dry mouth or “cottonmouth”. These effects are temporary and not harmful, but can be uncomfortable.

Gastrointestinal Issues

Delta 8 may affect digestive processes and cause adverse gastrointestinal effects in some users. Nausea, vomiting, and diarrhea have been reported, especially at higher doses.

Anxiety or Paranoia

Delta 8 is less likely to cause anxiety or paranoia compared to delta 9 THC, but it is still possible at high doses. Those prone to paranoia with delta 9 may want to exercise caution with delta 8 as well.

Dependence and Withdrawal

There are risks of developing a dependence on delta 8 THC with frequent or long-term use, similar to delta 9 THC. Withdrawal effects like irritability, insomnia, loss of appetite may occur when stopping heavy use of delta 8.

Duration of Delta 8 THC Side Effects

Most side effects of delta 8 THC will resolve on their own within 6-8 hours as the compounds are metabolized and eliminated from the body. However some effects like impaired coordination, drowsiness, or anxiety may persist for 24 hours or more after large doses.

The duration of side effects is influenced by factors like:

  • Dose taken
  • Frequency of use
  • Method of ingestion
  • User’s tolerance
  • Individual variation in metabolism

Ingesting delta 8 via inhalation from vaping or smoking results in faster onset of effects within minutes but shorter overall duration. Oral ingestion causes effects to come on slower over 1-2 hours but may prolong the duration.

Factors That May Increase Risk or Severity of Delta 8 Side Effects

Certain factors may predispose someone to an increased risk of experiencing delta 8 THC side effects or more severe side effects:

  • High dose – Higher doses increase risks
  • Inexperience with THC – Lower tolerance increases risks
  • Pre-existing health conditions – e.g. heart or psych conditions
  • Combining with other drugs – Mixing with alcohol, medications, other psychoactive substances
  • Environmental factors – Unsafe or stressful settings
  • Genetic variability – Genes influencing drug metabolism
  • Age – Adolescents may be more vulnerable

To reduce risks, it is important for consumers to start with low doses of delta 8 THC and avoid mixing it with other intoxicating substances. Those with health conditions or a high risk for side effects may want to avoid delta 8 use.

How Common Are Delta 8 THC Side Effects?

There are currently no large-scale studies on the prevalence of different side effects caused by delta 8 THC. However, based on anecdotal user reports, some general observations can be made:

  • The “high” effect seems to occur in most users
  • Anxiety, paranoia, nausea, vomiting appear to be less common side effects
  • Red eyes and dry mouth are frequently reported
  • Most side effects appear to be mild and transient
  • Severe, adverse reactions seem to be rare

The table below shows estimates of the relative frequency of some common delta 8 side effects:

Side Effect Estimated Frequency
Euphoric high Very common
Relaxation Very common
Anxiety Uncommon
Paranoia Rare
Impaired coordination Very common
Increased heart rate Common
Dry mouth Very common
Red eyes Very common
Nausea Uncommon
Vomiting Rare

These frequencies are rough estimates based on observable data in delta 8 users. More research is needed to systematically assess the prevalence of different side effects.

Ways to Reduce Delta 8 THC Side Effects

There are some steps consumers can take to reduce the risks and severity of potential delta 8 side effects:

  • Start with low doses (5-10mg) and increase slowly to find the right amount
  • Use precisely measured delta 8 products from reputable sources
  • Avoid mixing delta 8 with alcohol, medications, or other substances
  • Ingest delta 8 in a safe, comfortable environment
  • Have healthy foods and hydrating fluids on hand
  • Allow sufficient time for effects to wear off before driving/operating equipment
  • Avoid delta 8 if you have health conditions or are prone to side effects
  • Talk to your doctor about potential drug interactions

Following dosage and safety guidelines can reduce the risks. But side effects are still possible even with careful use.

Are Delta 8 THC Side Effects Dangerous?

Most side effects from delta 8 THC have been characterized as mild to moderate in severity. Severe or dangerous reactions appear to be rare but can occur.

Potential adverse effects include:

  • Increased risk of motor vehicle crashes – Delta 8 impairs coordination, reaction time, and concentration necessary for safe driving.
  • Falls or injuries – Balance problems make injuries more likely.
  • Respiratory distress – Vaping delta 8 may cause lung injury in some cases.
  • Cardiovascular problems – Increased heart rate/blood pressure could endanger those with heart conditions.
  • Psychotic reactions – High doses of delta 8 may worsen certain psychiatric disorders.
  • Rapid heart rate/low blood pressure – Signs of shock, dangerous vital sign changes.
  • Kidney/liver dysfunction – Toxicity from metabolites or contaminants.

While most side effects are temporary, these types of adverse reactions can pose a health hazard. Cases of delta 8 toxicity resulting in hospitalization have been documented.

Comparing Delta 8 and Delta 9 THC Side Effects

Delta 8 and delta 9 THC have an overlapping profile of potential side effects. However, delta 8 tends to produce milder psychoactive effects and less anxiety/paranoia compared to delta 9. A comparison of common side effects is shown below:

Delta 8 THC Delta 9 THC
Psychotropic high Mild to moderate Strong
Relaxation Moderate Strong
Anxiety Uncommon Common
Paranoia Rare Relatively common
Impaired coordination Moderate Severe
Increased appetite Mild to moderate Strong

The reduced psychoactivity of delta 8 compared to delta 9 may result in milder side effects for many users. However, delta 8 still carries risks of impairment, dependence, and other adverse effects.


Delta 8 THC does produce psychotropic effects, impairment of motor skills, and some other side effects similar to delta 9 THC. However, most of the observed side effects appear to be mild to moderate in severity based on anecdotal user reports.

To reduce side effect risks, delta 8 users are advised to start with low doses from reputable suppliers, avoid mixing with other intoxicants, and use delta 8 in safe settings. Consulting a doctor is recommended if any severe reactions occur or for those with health conditions.

While delta 8 shows some potential therapeutic benefits, more research is still needed to better characterize its safety profile and side effects at different dosage levels among regular consumers. Until more evidence is available, delta 8 THC should be used with caution.