Delta-8 THC is one of many psychoactive cannabinoids found naturally in the hemp plant. The high from Delta-8 THC offers a smoother and more subdued high than the villainized marijuana, and has allowed countless users to enjoy its soothing qualities without feeling overwhelmed. Delta-8 THC comes in many forms, but one of the most popular products on the market are Delta-8 THC edibles. Soft and chewy gummies, silky tinctures, and easy-to-swallow edibles are only a few forms, but they all have one thing in common: they must first pass through your digestive system. Because of this, it may take anywhere from 30-90 minutes (or more) in order to start feeling the effects. You may wonder if you should consume Delta-8 THC with or without food, which is exactly what we’ll be going over in this article. Since this topic isn’t often mentioned on brand websites or FAQ’s, you may be surprised to learn the answer to this particular question!
Understanding the Bioavailability of Delta-8 THC Products
Delta-8 THC products come in a variety of products but are typically categorized as either edibles or inhalables. Edibles must be consumed orally whereas inhalables are smoked or vaped. The smoke/vapor from inhalables is absorbed into your lungs and passes directly into your bloodstream, which allows your body to process the Delta-8 THC extremely quickly. Since the cannabinoid bypasses the digestive system completely, the bioavailability of inhalabes is extremely high since no Delta-8 THC is lost in digestion. Edibles, on the other hand, must pass through the stomach and small intestine in order to be processed and released into your bloodstream. Once in your bloodstream, the effects of the Delta-8 THC begin to kick in and can last for hours as your body fully processes the cannabinoid.
Food and Delta-8 THC: Does It Make A Difference?
Since Delta-8 THC edibles must be processed by your digestive system, you might be wondering how whether or not eating a meal makes a difference. Spoiler alert: it does! But here’s where it gets interesting. Inhalables bypass the digestive system, having a meal won’t really make much of a difference. Edibles, however, release a THC metabolite called 11-hydroxy-THC as the edible is digested. This metabolite is responsible for the euphoric effects and intensifies as your body processes the edible over the next few hours.
If you consume a Delta-8 THC edible without eating anything, you may feel the effects faster, but more intensely. The effects may come in hard and fast, resulting in feeling overwhelmed and uneasy. If you consume too much Delta-8 THC, the 11-hydroxy-THC metabolite can cause feelings of paranoia and drowsiness that can make your high less pleasurable. Always start off slowly with your doses and increase the amount consumed only after you’ve had a chance to see how your body reacts. Do you have to take Delta-8 THC with food? No. But there are several reasons why having a meal prior to consuming Delta-8 THC is a good idea.
The Benefits of Consuming a Meal with Delta-8 THC
You probably know that it’s recommended to take medication (either prescription or OTC) with food, whether it be a snack or a small meal. This allows the body to absorb the medication more evenly through digestion and can even reduce nausea flair-ups, stomach irritation, and indigestion. While it’s true that the stomach is largely responsible for thoroughly digesting food, there is another major organ that plays a part in the digestive system: your small intestine. Once the stomach has completed a partial digestion of the food, it is passed into the small intestine where it is fully broken down in the digestion process.
If you have a small meal or a snack with your tasty edible, your rate of digestion slows down to process the food and break it down for full absorption. This slowed digestion reduces the rate at which the Delta-8 THC enters into your bloodstream. Rather than a sudden onslaught of heady euphoria, the effects will begin more gradually. This can help you experience a more relaxing, albeit slower, high.
A Closer Look At The Digestion Process
Both Delta-8 THC and Delta-9 THC are fat-soluble cannabinoids; when you eat foods that have a high healthy-fat content, your body can digest and absorb the cannabinoid more evenly. When you consume a meal with Delta-8 THC, the ensuing high will most likely start smoother and the effects will be more consistent throughout the high.
As the cannabinoids are digested, bile is released from the gallbladder. Bile is critical in the digestion process, as the acid helps to break down whatever food is in the stomach to allow for a quick and effective digestive process. If you only eat a gummy and nothing else, the gallbladder will not release the same amount of bile as it would in a full digestion cycle because nothing is detected in the stomach.
The Research Involved with Food and THC Absorption
It’s always fascinating to see research confirm our theories, especially with so few studies conducted on cannabis and hemp. A study was recently conducted on a specific prescription drug known as Sativex. Sativex contained a 1:1 ratio of CBD and THC and was selected to test the importance of food consumption in tandem with psychoactive cannabinoids. Unfortunately, there is no targeted research with any Delta-8 THC products, but this study may help you understand the real world effects of food along with a THC cannabinoid. Delta-8 THC and Delta-9 THC are extremely similar with their carbon chain bonds, with both cannabinoids having double bonds on the 8th and 9th chain, respectively. It makes sense to assume that the results of the Savitex study would be similar to the effects from a Delta-8 THC product.
In the Sativex study, participants were divided into two groups: those who ate before consuming Sativex (Group A) and the other who only consumed Sativex (Group B). Group A was fed a meal high in fat content about 30 minutes before being dosed with four sprays of Sativex. Group B was instructed to fast for 10 hours before the same four-spray dose was administered and were instructed to fast for four hours following the dose.
In the following hours, the study confirmed that Group A (those who had eaten a high-fat meal prior to being dosed) had a peak plasma concentration about 90 minutes after being dosed. Group B, on the other hand, were only able to experience that same peak plasma concentration… four hours after the dose was administered. Additionally, Group A achieved nearly 3x the absorption rate of THC than Group B, confirming that it really does make a difference when THC is paired with a meal.
The results of the Sativex study were extremely helpful in determining whether or not food should be consumed in tandem with THC. In addition to helping users achieve peak plasma concentration in a very short amount of time, it also increases the body’s ability to absorb THC. Despite the fact that Sativex was used instead of Delta-8 THC, it makes sense to believe that food really does make a difference when consuming a Delta-8 THC edible. While inhalables are absorbed directly into the bloodstream via the lungs, edibles like gummies and softgels work better when consumed with a meal.
The next time you’re eyeing your favorite edible and wondering if you should skip your snacks to accelerate the edible’s effects, ask yourself if you’re wanting a fast and hard-hitting high or a smooth and evenly balanced high. You might just be surprised at how much more you enjoy your high when paired with a small meal or snack. The high might take a little longer to kick in, but the overall effects are sure to be more balanced and pleasurable. Feel free to conduct your own mini research and test the results on an empty stomach versus a full one. Here at Earth Hemp, we have a delightful assortment of vapes, tinctures, gummies, and sofgels that promise to transport you into a smooth and euphoric high. Feel to share your experiences with our Delta-8 THC products in the comments below! We look forward to reading all about it. Until next time, fellow cannabinoid enthusiasts!