If you’re dealing with anxiety and have decided to turn to hemp-derived cannabinoids, you may have found yourself at a bit of a crossroads: what strength of cannabinoid is ideal?
Let’s face it: psychoactive cannabinoids promote a type of relaxation that non-psychoactive cannabinoids can’t. But some might be too strong to be effective for anxiety.
Delta 9 THC, for example, may cause paranoia and anxiety as side effects.
This is where delta 8 THC may be beneficial. This THC isomer is just half as strong as delta 9, and it’s less likely than its psychoactive counterpart to cause anxiety. But at the same time, it offers a stronger alternative to non-psychoactive cannabinoids like CBD and CBG.
In this article, we’ll investigate the research behind delta 8 for anxiety, how it works, and how you can use it to achieve the best results.
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What is Delta 8?
Delta-8-tetrahydrocannabinol (also called delta 8 THC or just delta 8), is a cannabinoid found in the cannabis plant. Hemp is cannabis containing less than 0.3% THC.
Although it occurs naturally in hemp, delta 8 is synthetically produced for use in products because it’s only found in very small amounts.
Delta 8 is an isomer of delta 9 THC, the cannabinoid in weed (when people say THC, they’re referring to delta 9).
Like delta 9, it is psychoactive. However, its high effects are just half as strong, and it’s less likely to cause anxiety and paranoia as side effects. These two factors have made delta 8 a very popular choice for therapeutic uses, especially anxiety.
Can Delta 8 Help With Anxiety? What Research Says
Delta 8 has several key therapeutic benefits that may contribute to your mental well-being.
Relaxation & Euphoria
Researchers decided to conduct a survey to get a better look at how delta 8 makes people feel, and in a sample of over 500 people, 71% reported relaxation, 68% reported euphoria, and 55% reported pain relief after using delta 8 products.
Anecdotally, many of our customers who use delta 8 report feelings of euphoria and relaxation.
Without a doubt, more clinical research into delta 8’s relaxing effects is needed – but based on this survey, and what people (such as our customers) say, it’s clear that this cannabinoid has the potential to help you achieve mental relaxation during anxiety-inducing situations.
Sleep and anxiety go hand-in-hand: less sleep means more anxiety, and more anxiety means less sleep. Often, the key to reducing anxiety is to break this vicious cycle.
Though very little research has been conducted on the effects of delta 8 for sleep, anecdotal evidence suggests it may have some benefits.
In addition to promoting calming effects that may help you get into a restful state, delta 8 has therapeutic potential for anxiety and pain, both of which affect sleep.
Just as with sleep, pain can create a vicious cycle that leads to more anxiety – or at the very least, prevents you from properly addressing your anxiety.
Although delta 8 hasn’t been researched for pain, anecdotal evidence suggests that it may promote physical relaxation.
There is research showing that delta 9 THC, which is slightly stronger, may help with pain, though. And as the effects of delta 8 are commonly reported to be more body-focused than those of delta 9, it may even render these benefits to a greater degree.
How Delta 8 Works
Delta 8 works by interacting with your body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS).
The ECS is a receptor system in your body – all humans have one. The ECS plays a part in regulating your vital functions, including your mood and mental state.
Consuming cannabinoids from hemp may help the ECS better perform its job during times of mental or physical distress.
There are two main types of receptors in the ECS:
- CB1 receptors, which, when stimulated, may render mental, or “head” effects
- CB2 receptors, which, when stimulated, may render physical, or “body” effects
Delta 8 binds to both types of receptors, though it favors the CB1 receptors. It binds to the CB1 receptors more weakly than delta 9 does, which explains why its psychoactive effects aren’t as powerful.
Delta 8’s action at the CB1 receptor may lead to calming mental sensations and feelings of relaxation and euphoria. Its action as CB2 contributes to its physical benefits.
Side Effects & Downsides of Delta 8 for Anxiety
Although delta 8 is milder than delta 9, it may potentially cause some adverse effects:
- Loss of consciousness
- Tachychardia (raised heart rate)
- Difficulty with short-term memory
As with all psychoactive cannabinoids, delta 8 can render negative side effects if not used correctly – that’s why it’s important to start with a very small dose and observe how your body reacts before taking more (see the dosage section of this article for more).
One downside of delta 8, as compared to some cannabinoids and other natural supplements for anxiety, is that it may reduce your cognitive functioning and capability.
Although delta 8 is generally more energizing than sedating, it may not be the best choice if you have to go to work or perform some other mental task directly after using it.
Delta 8 THC vs. Delta 9 THC for Anxiety
Delta 8 is half as strong as delta 9. While delta 9 is more sedating and has more powerful relaxing benefits, it’s also more likely to cause anxiety and paranoia than delta 8 is. These side effects may end up nullifying any benefit the delta 9 has.
If you’ve never used any psychoactive cannabinoids before, we’d recommend starting with delta 8 for anxiety. If you find that you need something stronger, you can then step up to delta 9.
Delta 8 THC vs. CBD for Anxiety
Whereas delta 8 will render a head and body high, CBD (cannabidiol) is not psychoactive. In fact, CBD’s effects aren’t very noticeable – most users report that it reduces negative sensations, rather than creating any overtly positive sensations.
If you’re not yet comfortable with cannabinoids that may affect your cognitive functioning or cause you to feel high, CBD may be worth trying. CBD has been researched for use with anxiety, sleep, pain, epilepsy, and more.
How to Take Delta 8 for Anxiety
If you’ve shopped for delta 8, you know there are several ways you can take it. Here’s an overview of each, as well as some discussion about which consumption method works best for anxiety.
(For reference, bioavailability is the percentage of the delta 8 you consume that your body actually uses; some portion of the cannabinoids you consume is always naturally discarded)
Delta 8 Edibles
Average Bioavailability: 10-20%
If you’re dealing with anxiety, having a wellness routine is really important – this will ensure you consistently do whatever it is that helps you feel better. This is where delta 8 gummies (and other edibles) shine. Each piece contains the same amount of cannabinoids, so there’s very little guesswork about how many gummies you need to take.
Delta 8 gummies can also easily be split into smaller doses if the product you buy contains too much delta 8 in each piece.
Delta 8 Flower & Vapes
Average Bioavailability: 40-50%
Delta 8 can be inhaled through a vape, or by smoking hemp flower. Although inhalable consumption poses a health risk and makes precise dosing harder, this is a beneficial consumption method for anxiety.
Inhalables, particularly vapes, let you microdose delta 8 throughout the day, rather than taking one larger dose. If your anxiety crops up at random times, a vape can help – especially since they begin working in just 5-10 minutes.
But again, inhalables can cause damage to your body, so it’s a trade off.
Delta 8 Capsules
Average Bioavailability: 10-20%
Delta 8 capsules offer an alternative to gummies. If you’re already used to taking things in capsule form (e.g. over-the-counter ibuprofen), you might find that this consumption method is ideal for you.
The downside to capsules is that, unlike edibles, they can’t easily be split into smaller pieces if you want a smaller dose.
Delta 8 Oils/Tinctures
Average Bioavailability: 20-30%
Delta 8 oil products are taken under the tongue, where the cannabinoids can be absorbed through the blood vessels in your mouth.
The main benefit of oils is that you can dose them very precisely; this also means you can gradually increase or decrease your doses. This makes them a great option if you’re new to psychoactive cannabinoids and want the freedom to start low and adjust slowly.
What you’re sacrificing with oils is the taste: you may not be a fan of the earthy, slightly bitter taste of hemp.
How Much Delta 8 Should You Take for Anxiety?
For anxiety, we recommend starting with a low-strength dose – especially if you’re new to delta 8.
You can calculate your dose with this formula:
(0.05) x (your body weight in lbs.) = your daily delta 8 dose for anxiety in mg.
Once you’ve taken your starting dose a few times, adjust it depending on how well it’s working for you. We can’t stress starting with a small dose enough; this will prevent you from feeling the bulk of the side effects listed above (or, if you do get them, they won’t be severe).
Best Delta 8 Flower Strains for Anxiety
If you plan to use delta 8 flower for anxiety, here’s what you need to know choosing a strain.
First, know that delta 8 flower is made by adding delta 8 distillate to CBD flower; delta 8 doesn’t naturally occur in large enough amounts to create potent flower that can be harvested and dried, so it has to be produced. However, many people still find delta 8 flower products beneficial.
Generally, we recommend indica strains for anxiety. Indicas are calming; sativa strains are more energizing.
In addition to their naturally calming properties, indica strains tend to contain higher levels of CBD (without having any less THC). Research suggests that CBD may reduce the side effects of anxiety caused by THC, so strains with more CBD may be more effective for anxiety than those without.
Another thing to look for are strains that are high in terpinolene, a naturally occurring terpene in hemp with calming properties.
With these points in mind, here are some strain ideas:
- High-terpinolene sativa strains: Jack Herer & Ghost Train Haze
- High-terpinolene indica strains: Strawberry Fields & Purple Zkittlez
The Legality of Delta 8
Disclaimer: we work hard to ensure the information in our articles is up-to-date, however, due to the ever-changing nature of the law, be sure to independently check the laws in your state before purchasing delta 8.
Hemp-derived delta 8 is federally legal as of the 2018 Farm Bill, which legalized all cannabinoids that come from the hemp plant. Hemp is cannabis that contains less than 0.3% THC.
Individual states have made delta 8 illegal, though – here’s what you need to know.
States Where Delta 8 is Legal
- New Hampshire
- New Jersey
- New Mexico
- North Carolina
- Washington D.C.
- West Virginia
States Where Delta 8 is Illegal or Restricted
- New York
- North Dakota
- Rhode Island
- South Dakota
- South Carolina
Conclusion: A Better Cannabinoid for Anxiety?
Anecdotal evidence suggests delta 8 offers euphoric, relaxing effects. Research on delta 8 shows that it has therapeutic potential for managing anxiety.
For some people, delta 8 provides the perfect in-between to CBD and delta 9. It’s psychoactive and will render the euphoria and relaxation CBD can’t, but it’s less likely to cause the anxiety and paranoia that delta 9 may create.
Just be sure to start with a small dose and work your way up; this will ensure that you get the benefits of delta 8 without as many of the potential downsides.
Delta 8 for Anxiety: Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some questions our customers often ask us about using delta 8 for anxiety.
What strain of delta 8 is best for anxiety?
Indica delta 8 strains with high levels of the terpene terpinolene, such as Strawberry Fields and Purple Zkittelz, are most beneficial for anxiety.
How much delta 8 should I take for anxiety?
You should take a low-strength dose of delta 8 for anxiety, which you can calculate using this formula: (0.05) x (your body weight in lbs.) = your daily dose of delta 8 for anxiety.
Will delta 8 calm me down?
Research and anecdotal evidence suggests delta 8 may create feelings of euphoria and relaxation, which can contribute to a calmer mental state.
Is delta 8 good for anxiety and sleep?
A survey conducted in 2022 found that people commonly reported feeling calm and relaxed after using delta 8 products.