If you’re dealing with back pain and desperate for a solution, you might have come across hemp-derived delta 8.
Delta 8 THC is a great therapeutic cannabinoid if you want the head high, but you’ve decided that normal THC (delta 9 THC) is a bit too overwhelming. It promotes mental and physical relaxation and creates a high half as strong as delta 9 – relaxing, but not to the point of excess.
But how well does it work for back pain? And how does it compare to delta 9 for this purpose? In this article, we’ll discuss these topics and break down how delta 8 works for back pain and how to use it.
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What Causes Back Pain?
Back pain has a variety of causes – some related to specific conditions, others more general in nature.
According to medical center Mayo Clinic, back pain may be caused by:
- Muscle or ligament strain – Back muscles and spinal ligaments can become strained due to repeated heavy lifting or sudden abnormal movements.
- Bulging or ruptured disks – Disks, which act as cushions between the bones and the spine, can bulge or rupture, creating pressure on a nerve(s). This may result in back pain.
- Arthritis – Arthritis in the spine can lead to the area around the spinal cord narrowing, which creates discomfort.
- Osteoporosis – In this condition, bones become porous and brittle, which can lead the vertebrae in the spine to develop painful breaks.
- Ankylosing spondylitis – This is an inflammatory disease that can cause some of the bones in the spine to fuse, making the spine less flexible (which can then lead to back pain).
What is Delta 8?
Delta 8 (delta-8-tetrahydrocannabinol) is a naturally occurring cannabinoid in the hemp plant. However, it’s only naturally found in minuscule amounts, so it’s made synthetically to be used in products.
Delta 8 has psychoactive effects, and it’s roughly ½ as potent as delta 9 THC, the THC in weed. It’s become increasingly popular as a therapeutic because it can render many of the benefits that delta 9 can, but without as powerful of a high or as much of a chance of creating anxiety and paranoia.
Can Delta 8 Help With Back Pain?
Although there is a decent amount of research on how the cannabis (called hemp if it contains less than 0.3% THC) plant may render therapeutic benefits for chronic pain, there hasn’t been much inquiry into delta 8 THC, specifically.
However, preliminary research and anecdotal evidence suggest that delta 8 may help with pain.
A research survey of more than 500 delta 8 users found that common benefits of using this cannabinoid include relaxation, euphoria, and pain relief. The researchers concluded that delta 8 “may provide much of the experiential benefits of delta-9-THC with lesser adverse effects.”
Research on medical cannabis for back pain, specifically, is promising. A review of studies found that “cannabis was shown to be effective [in treating] back pain with an acceptable side effect profile.”
Note that delta 9, rather than delta 8, is the main cannabinoid in most strains of medical cannabis. However, the previous research that suggests delta 8 offers many of the same benefits, in combination with this research, shows that delta 8 may also have therapeutic potential for back pain.
How Delta 8 May Help With Back Pain
It’s clear that delta 8 may help with back pain – here’s a bit more about the specific benefits it has to offer:
Delta 8 May Reduce Discomfort
Delta 8 helps to promote physical relaxation. Some people even say that, compared to delta 9, it spreads its effects more evenly across the mind and body, making it especially beneficial for things like back pain.
Delta 8 May Promote Mental Relaxation
Delta 8 creates a mild head high that can help you relax. People commonly use it for stress and anxiety, both of which, when left unchecked, contribute to pain. Many people also report that delta 8 helps them ignore any discomfort that’s left over.
How Delta 8 Works In Your Body
Delta 8 works by interacting with your Endocannabinoid system (ECS), a receptor system in your body responsible for regulating your vital functions. Functions the ECS regulates include pain and inflammatory response, immune response, and mood.
The purpose of the ECS is to keep your body in homeostasis, or balance. Healthy functioning of your ECS is correlated with normal states of health. During times of mental and physical duress, introducing outside cannabinoids helps your ECS re-balance your body.
There are two main types of cannabinoid receptors in the ECS:
- CB1 receptors, which, when stimulated, render mental, or “head” effects
- CB2 receptors, which, when stimulated, render physical, or “body” effects
Delta 8 interacts with both the CB1 and CB2 receptors, which allow it to produce both physical and mental benefits – hence why it’s beneficial for back discomfort, but can also help you mentally relax and tune out a bit.
Side Effects of Delta 8
Although delta 8 has many benefits, it also has some side effects. Adverse effects that may occur after using delta 8 include:
- Red eyes
- Dry mouth
- Trouble with coordination
- Slowed reaction times
- Short-term memory loss
- Rapid heart rate
Proper dosing helps to mitigate these side effects, but what you’ll feel will also be dependent on your tolerance to delta 8.
Delta 8 vs. Delta 9 for Back Pain
Delta 9 is more powerful than delta 8 – it’s the cannabinoid that creates the high associated with smoking cannabis. However, many people prefer delta 8 as a therapeutic for a few reasons:
- It’s only half as strong as delta 9, so it doesn’t create a high that’s overwhelming or uncomfortable, but it can still render the deep relaxation you’re looking for
- It’s less likely than delta 9 to cause anxiety and paranoia as side effects
- Delta 8’s effects are spread fairly evenly across the mind and body, whereas cannabinoids like delta 9 and THC-O tend to concentrate their effects in the head
If all you’re interested in are the therapeutic benefits, we’d recommend starting out with delta 8. If you find that you need something stronger, then delta 9 is worth a try.
It is possible, though, that the physical effects of each cannabinoid are very much the same.
How to Take Delta 8 for Back Pain
There are many ways you can take delta 8, and each has its upsides and downsides. Below, we’ll discuss each in more depth and talk about what you’ll need to consider.
NOTE: Bioavailability is a measure of how much of a cannabinoid you consume that your body uses; some portion of anything you consume is naturally discarded.
Delta 8 Edibles
Average Bioavailability: 10-20%
Starts Working In: 45 minutes to 1 hour
The most popular type of delta 8 edibles are gummies. Gummies offer a fixed-dose delta 8 consumption method, which makes them the ideal product if you want to take the same dose of delta 8 on a regular basis.
Delta 8 gummies can also be split into pieces if you want a smaller dose.
Delta 8 Flower & Vapes
Average Bioavailability: 40-50%
Starts Working In: 5-10 minutes
Delta 8 can be inhaled through a vape, or in the form of delta 8 hemp flower. There are a few benefits to inhaling delta 8; for one, it’s fast-acting, as the cannabinoids travel straight to your lungs via the smoke or vaper.
Inhalable delta 8 also makes it easier to take small doses throughout the day as you need to.
Apart from the obvious health risks posed by smoking or vaping delta 8, one downside of inhalable consumption is that it’s hard to accurately measure how much delta 8 you’re taking.
Delta 8 Capsules
Average Bioavailability: 10-20%
Starts Working In: 45 minutes to 1 hour
Delta 8 can also be taken in capsule form, which provides an alternative to edibles. The downside to capsules is that, unlike edibles, they can’t be split into pieces if you want to take a smaller amount.
Delta 8 Oils/Tinctures
Average Bioavailability: 20-30%
Starts Working In: 10-15 minutes
Delta 8 oil (also sometimes called tinctures) consists of cannabinoids and carrier oil. Oils are taken under the tongue and absorbed through the blood vessels in your mouth.
There are a couple of major upsides to oils as a consumption method.
First, they’re fast-acting, as sublingual absorption delivers cannabinoids directly to your bloodstream.
Second, oils can be dosed very precisely, as you can measure the amount you’re taking down to the drop via the metered dropper that comes with most products.
What you’re sacrificing with oils is taste: you may not be a fan of the earthy, slightly bitter taste of delta 8 THC hemp extract.
Delta 8 Topicals
Average Bioavailability: N/A
Starts Working In: 10-15 minutes
Delta 8 can also be used in topical form. Topicals are products that are applied directly to the skin, rather than consumed and distributed through your bloodstream.
Topicals are an effective way to use delta 8 if you’re dealing with physical discomfort, as you can deliver targeted relaxation just to the areas you need it. Delta 8 topicals also won’t cause you to fail a drug test, as they don’t deliver cannabinoids to your bloodstream.
The downside of topicals is that, since they don’t deliver cannabinoids to the bloodstream, you won’t experience the head high or any of the mental benefits of delta 8.
Delta 8 Dosage for Back Pain
If you’re using delta 8 for back pain, we recommend starting with a medium-strength dose, which you can calculate using the following formula:
(0.1) x (your body weight in lbs.) = your daily delta 8 dose for pain in mg.
Once you’ve taken delta 8 a few times, adjust your dose up or down depending on how it’s working for you.
Conclusion: Can Delta 8 Promote Full-Body Relaxation?
Delta 8 offers deeper relaxation than non-psychoactive cannabinoids, but it isn’t as powerful as delta 9, making it ideal for back pain and other forms of physical discomfort.
Just be sure to speak to your doctor before using delta 8 if you’re already on pain medications; they’ll be able to help you use delta 8 safely and effectively.
Delta 8 for Back Pain: Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some questions our customers frequently ask us about using delta 8 for back pain.
Does delta 8 help with body pain?
Research and anecdotal evidence suggests that delta 8 may promote mental and physical relaxation and pain relief. However, more clinical research on delta 8 for pain is needed.
What are delta 8’s negative side effects?
Delta 8 has many of the side effects of delta 9, but anecdotally, they aren’t as severe. Side effects of delta 8 include red eyes, dry mouth, trouble with coordination, slowed reaction times, anxiety, short-term memory loss, and rapid heart rate.
Is delta 8 an anti-inflammatory?
Research and anecdotal evidence suggests delta 8 may have anti-inflammatory benefits, however, more clinical investigation is needed before we know how effective delta 8 is an an anti-inflammatory.
Which is better for pain, delta 8 or delta 9?
Both cannabinoids have upsides and downsides for pain. Delta 9 is roughly two times stronger than delta 8. However, delta 8 may render many of the physical benefits of delta 9 without as powerful of a head high. Anecdotally, many people report that delta 8 spreads its effects evenly across the mind and body, whereas delta 9’s effects are more mind-focused.