Cannabis compounds are the ultimate team players, boosting each other’s therapeutic qualities while mitigating less-desirable effects.
- What is the Entourage Effect?
- Who Discovered the Entourage Effect?
- How Does the Entourage Effect Influence CBD and THC?
- What are the Benefits of the Entourage Effect?
- What do Terpenes Have to do with the Entourage Effect?
The Entourage Effect is the widely held scientific theory that the multitude of cannabinoids and other compounds in cannabis—THC, CBD, and terpenes—work better together than alone. The theory states that the plant’s active compounds work synergistically to produce therapeutic reactions in the mind and body.
There’s no shortage of applications for the phrase, “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”
We use the expression to say that something is better or more effective as a team—plans come together, and ventures are more successful when the entire crew can be counted on to play their role.
Think of cannabis as a supergroup with hundreds of members, each one contributing their valuable talents where the other might fall short. Indeed, there’s likely no reaction between our biology and a consumed product that better exemplifies pure teamwork than the Entourage Effect.
What is the Entourage Effect?
In defining the Entourage Effect, it’s vital to first talk about the “stuff” that makes cannabis the plant we all know and love.
Cannabis produces hundreds of compounds, with one class of those diverse compounds called cannabinoids. Another type, called terpenes, are actually found in a bevy of plants, and they’re responsible for the taste and aroma unique to specific cannabis strains.
But the bulk of scientific research and consumer interest revolves around two specific cannabinoids: cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
The differences between the two compounds are stark. THC is the cannabinoid most associated with all of the classic cannabis effects. There’s the euphoria and giggles, along with less-desirable effects like mind fog and couch lock.
On the other end of the spectrum is CBD—the compound with new-wave appeal and a universal charm that never disappoints. In its essence, CBD allows you to reap the benefits of cannabis without surrendering to the psychotropic side effects.
While THC and CBD produce two different reactions in the mind and body, the Entourage Effect theory proposes that the two cannabinoids actually work in concert with one another, along with a cocktail of other cannabis compounds, to achieve more significant physiological benefits.
When you smoke, vape, or consume edibles, your body takes in the many hundreds of botanical compounds found in cannabis. This includes THC, CBD, and everything in between (researchers continue to identify new and possibly beneficial cannabinoids).
Each compound, flavonoid, and terpene delivers unique effects and benefits—the Entourage Effect holds that some of these benefits are impossible to experience without the influence of all of the compounds, working together to either enhance or mitigate effects.
Who Discovered the Entourage Effect?
The Entourage Effect was first mentioned in relation to cannabis in 1998 by a team of researchers that included medical marijuana pioneer and biochemist Dr. Raphael Mechoulam.
Subsequent research posits that the Entourage Effect gathers those hundreds of compounds in marijuana and hemp and initiates interactions that could ease physical discomfort, support general wellness, relieve stress and frustration, promote emotional well-being, soothe stomach issues, increase mental acuity, and more.
How Does the Entourage Effect Influence CBD and THC?
While all cannabis compounds are along for the ride in the Entourage Effect, CBD and THC are the most well-known and generate the most interest. So let’s put on our 10th-grade biology lab coats to understand how the two compounds interact under the influence of the Entourage Effect.
CBD and THC are nearly identical on the molecular level, possessing 21 carbon atoms, 30 hydrogen atoms, and 2 oxygen atoms. However, the CBD and THC compounds diverge thanks to a microscopic difference of atomic arrangement, which influences the effect of each compound on the human body and mind.
Interacting with these compounds is your body’s Endocannabinoid System (ECS). This vital chemical signaling system houses a network of receptors that cooperate with the incoming CBD and THC cannabinoids, dispersing the compounds throughout your body for a range of influences like mood regulation, appetite stimulation, and relief from discomfort.
When THC enters your body, it binds with your cannabinoid 1 brain receptors, making you feel the euphoric “high.” On the other hand, CBD barely binds with those same receptors. It can even interfere with THC’s binding efforts, easing those often unpleasant psychoactive effects while still delivering the benefits. That phenomenon is the Entourage Effect at work.
Let’s dig a bit deeper into some research to examine the incredible effect THC and CBD have on one another and how the levels of one compound can cause the other to rise or fall. Before CBD sprouted into the mainstream, THC was the most sought-after compound in weed.
The psychoactive effects of THC became so popular that cultivators in northern California—America’s cannabis breadbasket—actively worked to amp up THC potency in their strains, nearly eliminating natural CBD levels in the process.
In a study conducted from 1995 through 2014, 38,681 samples of cannabis preparations were analyzed. The results showed that in 1995, there was 14 times more THC than CBD in cannabis.
By 2014, that number had skyrocketed to 80 times more THC than CBD. Meanwhile, according to the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the potency of an average joint has increased from roughly 3 percent THC in the early 1990s to 12.5 percent in 2013. The NIH also states that during that same period, the potency of cannabis extracts jumped to mind-bending levels—containing more than 50 percent THC, with some samples creeping to more than 80 percent THC.
Consuming an edible or concentrate with 80 percent THC can be fun if you’re into that sort of thing. But that’s not everyone’s cup of tea.
Suppose you’re seeking assistance from the medicinal properties of cannabis without the psychotropic effects that can seriously alter your day. In that case, you need higher levels of CBD and a touch of terpenes to hold the line against the potent THC.
What are the Benefits of the Entourage Effect?
The Entourage Effect is all about the different compounds in the cannabis plant working together to deliver better results.
Many of the compounds, most notably THC and CBD, along with terpenes, flavonoids, and additional phytonutrients, impact different physiological mechanisms and signaling pathways in the human body. Thus, the actions of the compounds on these disparate pathways multiply the likelihood of therapeutic action.
It’s this increased likelihood of a therapeutic experience that’s the main benefit of the Entourage Effect. The compounds you consume in high-quality cannabis products typically lead to higher instances of general relaxation and relief from physical discomfort, while the side effects of THC some folks find undesirable are held at bay.
What do Terpenes Have to do with the Entourage Effect?
The role of aromatic compounds known as terpenes demonstrates the Entourage Effect, perhaps even more so than CBD and THC. Terpenes are responsible for the unique aroma of each cannabis cultivar. Whether lemon, pine, or sage, the heavenly scent of your bud is caused by terpenes.
However, terpenes are about much more than the aroma.
One study states that terpenes could help increase mental acuity and support normal cognitive function while calming inflamed joints caused by exercise. In terms of the Entourage Effect, terpenes deliver their benefits while also interacting with THC (and other cannabinoids) in a way that makes it more tolerable for medicinal consumers.
For example, limonene is one of the most abundant terpenes found in cannabis. While this aromatic compound lends a citrusy note to some strains, it also does so much more thanks to the Entourage Effect. Studies show that limonene counteracts some of THC’s effects by relieving the occasional anxiety associated with the psychoactive properties of cannabis.
The Entourage Effect: A Group Where Everyone Contributes
The Entourage Effect is the cannabis plant’s way of telling us that going it alone is not a recipe for success. Just like people, we are better together.
For the full benefits of cannabis to be realized, every single component must be allowed to play its part. THC, CBD, terpenes, and every other compound in between—they all increase the positive effects of one another while mitigating the undesirable.
And Remedy is the place to go when it’s time to enlist your team of holistic heroes.