CBD vs Delta-8: Which is better for pain?

CBD vs Delta 8 THC for pain

In the realm of pain relief, the spotlight is on two hemp-derived compounds: cannabidiol (CBD) and delta-8 tetrahydrocannabinol (delta-8 THC).

These natural compounds are gaining attention as potential game-changers, offering an effective approach to managing chronic pain without the baggage that often comes with traditional pain remedies.

However, people often get confused between the two, especially when it comes to managing chronic pain.

In this article, we aim to break down the essentials of CBD and delta-8, helping you understand what each brings to the table and which one of these could be the right option for you in addressing pain.

Understanding CBD

CBD is a natural, non-psychoactive compound that is derived from hemp plants. It works by interacting with the endocannabinoid system (ECS) in the body, which is a complex network of receptors that regulate various physiological functions in the body, including mood, sleep, anxiety, and pain.

Unlike its counterpart delta-8, CBD doesn’t induce a euphoric high, instead, it only provides therapeutic benefits without altering your mental state.

How can CBD help with pain?

CBD helps with pain by engaging with the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS is like the body’s internal regulatory network, overseeing functions such as mood and pain perception.

When you take CBD, it acts as a modulator, and partners with ECS receptors, specifically CB1 and CB2, promoting a balanced state known as homeostasis. This interaction also addresses one of the root causes of pain by mitigating inflammation, a common culprit in various chronic pain conditions (1).

CBD’s anti-inflammatory prowess provides both immediate relief from acute pain and a holistic approach to managing chronic conditions associated with inflammation (2).

Furthermore, CBD pain relief properties don’t just stop at inflammation. Its analgesic effects also come into play by influencing neurotransmitters and receptors involved in pain signaling (3).

By interacting with serotonin and vanilloid receptors, CBD effectively dampens pain signals, offering immediate relief without any adverse effects that are often associated with traditional pain remedies.

Additionally, CBD’s calming effects can positively impact mood and contribute to better sleep, which are also essential components of a pain management strategy.

Understanding delta-8

Delta-8 or “delta-8 THC” is a minor cannabinoid found in the hemp plants. It shares many similarities with its more well-known cousin, delta-9 THC; the primary psychoactive compound in cannabis.

However, delta-8 differs by its molecular structure, resulting in a milder psychoactive effect. This distinction makes delta-8 THC an appealing option for individuals seeking the potential benefits of THC without the intensity of psychoactivity often associated with THC.

How can delta-8 help with pain?

Like CBD, delta-8 also has the same capability to interact with the endocannabinoid system and regulate the CB receptors to offer pain and inflammation relief (4).

However, for an issue like pain, it works more effectively in masking the pain signals and replacing them with the psychoactive sensation, rather than minimizing the pain. 

In short, when you are in pain and you take a delta-8 product, the pain you are feeling will be temporarily gone and will be replaced by a feeling of relaxation and mild intoxication.

You can also get the same effects with hemp-derived delta-9 THC, it will be more intoxicating but potentially more effective in masking pain and inflammation because the commercially available delta-8 has less affinity to bind with CB receptors.

When is CBD better for pain than delta-8?

There are many reasons why CBD is a better choice than delta-8 for pain:

CBD is a safer option because it is naturally made, well-researched, non-psychoactive, and widely used as compared to delta-8. 

CBD has a stronger binding affinity to the CB receptors that help regulate and minimize all kinds of pain better as compared to delta-8. 

CBD products are legal in the US as long as it is extracted from hemp and contains less than 0.3% of THC with certain restrictions on full-spectrum CBD products in a few states. 

However, commercial delta-8 is only legal in the US on the technicalities, and due to limited research, States like Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Kentucky, Idaho, Iowa, Michigan, Mississippi, Montana, New York, Nevada, North Dakota, Rhode Island, Utah, and Vermont have imposed restrictions on delta-8 products.

The FDA does not regulate both cannabinoids. However, the CBD industry has become smarter with time as more CBD companies have self-regulated and standardized their products to the extent that it causes an almost similar effect in every batch of the product. 

While the delta 8 THC industry is still new and evolving, so the trust for a delta 8 product hasn’t built up yet.

The side effects of CBD are minimal and they are generally well-tolerated and there is no potential for abuse and dependency with CBD. While delta-8 THC may cause certain levels of dependency and needs more research on other matters to say anything for certain. 

CBD can be taken anytime for pain, as it does not exhibit psychoactive properties, While delta-8 causes you to get mildly “high” at any decent dosage.

Delta-8 can test positive in a cannabis drug test screening, However, except for full spectrum CBD products that contains traces of THC, CBD does not cause a false positive in any kind of drug test.

When is delta-8 better for pain than CBD?

If a person has tried both cannabinoids and prefers delta-8 over CBD for pain, there could be one of two reasons: 

Delta-8 causes you to get stoned, and in some cases, this feeling of intoxication could help eliminate or mask the feeling of pain better than CBD. 

Although delta-8 does have pain-reducing properties, it does not have a strong binding capability to the CB receptors that minimize the sensation of pain.

Another reason delta-8 can be better than CBD is when the dosing of CBD is not accurate. For CBD to be effective for any ailment, accurate dosing is required and unfortunately, many people have trouble finding the right CBD dosage

Without the FDA regulation, there are no fixed guidelines that govern the CBD space.

For delta-8, the dosing is also complex but it’s more likely to get you to feel mildly intoxicated even at a lower dosage and this may feel like it’s working and providing relief in pain better than CBD.

The only reason to stick to delta-8 over CBD for pain is if you like the intoxicating effects that come with it. Otherwise, it’s better to try a good quality CBD product, as it will be beneficial in the long run.

How to use CBD and delta-8 for pain?

Both cannabinoids come in many product forms, such as:

  • Tinctures and oils: CBD and delta-8 come in a dropper bottle that needs to be sublingually administered under the tongue for a minute and then swallowed. It takes 30 minutes to 1 hour for the effects to kick in and it generally lasts for up to 6 to 8 hours. The exact dosing can be a hassle and you can titrate easily, but tinctures and oils administration can be a good choice for onset pain relief.
  • Edibles (gummies, capsules, and softgels): Edibles are one of the most preferred methods of cannabinoid ingestion. They are easy to dose and titrate. It takes up to 2 hours for their effect to kick in and can last up to 8 hours. Both CBD edibles and delta-8 edibles are also good options for managing pain.
  • Topicals (cream, balm, roll-on): If you are suffering from arthritis or a targeted inflammatory pain in any part of your body then topical products are the best option for you. In this case, finding the exact dosing is not necessary, just take a decent amount and apply it to the affected area. You will see the effects in less than 1 hour.
  • Flower and vapes: Inhaling the cannabinoids in the form of flowers or vapes is the fastest way to feel its effects. They generally kick in within 5 minutes of use, however, their effect also dissipates within a few hours.

Final thoughts

In the dynamic landscape of pain management, both CBD and delta-8 THC offer promising avenues for relief. While CBD’s non-psychoactive nature appeals to a broad audience, delta-8 THC provides an option for those seeking a more sedative approach to pain management.

Ultimately, the choice between CBD and delta-8 THC depends on individual preferences, medical conditions, and the desired therapeutic outcome.

As with any supplement or medication, consulting with a healthcare professional is advisable to ensure safe and effective use.


The information in this article is intended for general use only and may not always be appropriate for everyone’s needs. Your health and wellness are unique to you, so before acting on anything we say, seek personalized advice from a medical professional.

We value the accuracy and editorial integrity of all our articles, and we strive to ensure that the content we publish is accurate and up-to-date to the best of our knowledge.