When it comes to the hemp plant and its many compounds, the entourage effect is undoubtedly one of the most exciting discoveries in recent times.
According to its proponents, the entourage effect is a mechanism in which extracts produced from the whole hemp plant boost the efficacy of the plant’s health benefits – something that would be unattainable with isolated compounds.
Scientists have diverse perspectives on this subject. There is considerable evidence that full-spectrum hemp extracts are more effective in certain circumstances than isolated counterparts.
Cannabinoids, terpenes and other compounds are all part of full-spectrum products. Broad-spectrum products are like a “light” version of full-spectrum.
On the other hand, Isolates refer to pure CBD that has been removed from the rest of the plant.
This article will focus on the entourage effect, explaining what it is and how it can benefit those using CBD.
What is the entourage effect?
Cannabinoids are among the most potent components of the hemp plant. They are chemical compounds generated by the plant in its natural state.
What distinguishes them is their capacity to interact with endocannabinoid receptors throughout the human body—these interactions aid in managing and balancing several activities occurring within our bodies.
There are over 100 cannabinoids, and each one, even small ones like CBN or CBC, may affect how you feel.
In 1998, Raphael Mechoulam and Shimon Ben-Shabat proposed that the endocannabinoid system (ECS) exhibited a phenomenon known as “the entourage effect.”
According to the study’s authors, a variety of “inactive” chemicals and related molecules improved the activity of the two primary endogenous cannabinoids, 2-AG and anandamide.
According to Mechoulam and Ben-Shabat, their research clarified why plant drugs are frequently more successful than synthetic isolates.
This suggests that for CBD oil users, CBD is not the only compound responsible for the health benefits elicited.
If you experience more relief from stress or physical discomfort while taking a full-spectrum CBD oil, this might be due to the synergistic effects of additional cannabinoids such as CBD, CBDV, CBG, CBC, or CBN, as well as terpenes such as beta-caryophyllene, limonene, myrcene, or linalool.
While CBD is an extremely effective molecule on its own, it requires a team of allies to reach its full potential. Terpenes are intriguing compounds (we’ll discuss them a bit later), but first, let’s review the most well-known entourage effect between CBD and THC.
THC & CBD: The Most Well-Known Entourage Effect
The interaction between CBD and THC was one of the first and most often reported entourage effects.
While THC binds directly to the CB1 cannabinoid receptors in the brain, CBD exerts its effects via a different mechanism. When these two chemicals are combined, CBD decreases THC’s psychoactive potential by blocking the CB1 receptor sites to which THC attempts to bind. As a result, you experience less of a high than if you took THC alone.
The data demonstrating CBD’s capacity to help mitigate the psychoactive effects of THC continues to accumulate. An FDA-approved medication, Sativex, combines a 1:1 mix of CBD and THC to ensure that patients can take it without becoming too stoned.
Once you understand how CBD, THC, and the CB1 receptor interact, you should have a rough understanding of how the entourage effect works. THC acts as an agonist for this receptor, acting as a key to unlock the receptor’s lock.
Although it competes with THC for the receptor’s binding site, CBD is not a direct agonist of the CB1 receptor. As previously stated, combining these two chemicals reduces the number of receptors that THC may activate.
CBD functions via various mechanisms, making it difficult to attribute its health benefits entirely to CB1 activation. According to Adie Wilson-Poe, a professor at Washington University in St. Louis, CBD exerts its effects via at least 14 distinct processes in the central nervous system alone. Apart from that, it contains more than 65 molecular targets.
When you consume full-spectrum CBD oil, your body absorbs a greater number of compounds. Utilizing broad-spectrum products simultaneously activates a number of beneficial compounds.
What happens when you use whole-plant ingredients?
While the entourage effect’s ability to modulate THC’s euphoric effects is a huge benefit, the whole-plant concept entails much more. Full-spectrum products may enhance CBD’s overall potency.
Although minor cannabinoids and terpenes have several beneficial benefits on their own, it’s difficult to quantify the efficiency of specific entourage effects when varied ratios of these compounds are used.
From our perspective, it’s more about the entourage effect improving everything than isolates being less effective (or at least, that’s what preliminary research indicates!)
Indications of the entourage effect
A considerable amount of research supports full-spectrum CBD’s higher efficacy. Ethan Russo, a renowned cannabis researcher, presented a groundbreaking study in the British Journal of Pharmacology in 2011.
Russo stated in the study that cannabinoids and terpenes have synergistic effects that result in enhanced therapeutic results.
Additionally, in 2019 Russo published a study in the journal Frontiers in Plant Science where he concluded that there is compelling evidence that cannabis’s phytochemical factory is more beneficial to humans than isolated compounds.
What Are Terpenes?
If you’ve ever wondered why various cannabis strains smell differently while maintaining some features in common with other plants, the answer is “terpenes.”
Terpenes are volatile aromatic compounds that give plants, fruits, vegetables, and spices their distinct scents—the more fragrant the plant, the higher the concentration of terpenes.
However, recent research has demonstrated that terpenes are highly effective medicinal chemicals because they initiate the entourage effect.
Approximately 200 terpenes have been identified; however, only a few appear in amounts significant enough to mention.
Terpenes are classified into three groups:
The classification of a terpene is determined by the number of repeating units in a five-carbon molecule called isoprene, which serves as the structural marker for all terpenes.
The Ten Most Common Terpenes
The following are the ten most abundant terpenes discovered in the cannabis plant:
Terpenes’ Health Benefits
While it is true that terpenes impact the fragrances of plants, there is mounting evidence that they offer dozens of health benefits – particularly when combined with cannabinoids such as CBD.
Terpenes may provide the following possible health benefits:
- Decreased stress
- Appetite regulation
- Physical pain alleviation
- Cognitive boost
- Better blood circulation
- Anti-nausea and anti-vomiting
- Protection of healthy cells
The benefits of full-spectrum CBD oil, for example, are amplified when it is combined with other extracts.
Recently, the entourage effect has received a great deal of attention. If this principle holds true for all cannabis extracts, it has the potential to alter how individuals consume hemp-based goods permanently.
Nonetheless, the notion that cannabinoids and terpenes are more potent when combined is fascinating. However, the real issue for scientists is to determine how we might be able to leverage the entourage effect by changing the cannabinoid and terpene ratios.
Once we have a better knowledge of this phenomenon, we may be able to tailor various forms of CBD better to meet individual requirements.
DISCLAIMER: THIS ARTICLE DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE
The information, including but not limited to text, images, graphics, and other material contained in this article, are for informational and educational purposes, solely intended to be used as a self-help tool. No information in this article or on this website is intended to substitute for professional medical advice, treatment, or diagnosis. Always seek guidance and advice from a qualified healthcare provider before undertaking a new health care regimen.