The entourage effect of cannabis

Chemistry entourage effect

A dominant theory in the world of cannabis science, the "entourage effect"

You may be familiar with the natural benefits of the two main compounds in cannabis, CBD and THC, but there are actually hundreds of other medicinal compounds in this plant. When used together, they produce a synergistic phenomenon known as the entourage effect.

What is the Entourage effect?

The Entourage effect is the synergistic phenomenon that occurs when several compounds in the cannabis plant work together to produce a powerful compositional effect.

Each element of cannabis can enhance the natural properties of other elements of the same plant. For this reason, the compounds in cannabis will together produce stronger and more diverse effects than any compound alone.

With literally hundreds of cannabinoids naturally produced in cannabis, the variety of different synergies offered within this plant is staggering.

To understand just how powerful the entourage effect can be and, more importantly, how it can be used to enhance your experience, let's take a look at the three main groups of compounds in cannabis: cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids.

Cannabinoids and the Entourage effect

The cannabinoids are a group of active cannabis compounds that can interact with receptors in our endocannabinoid system (ECS) to produce a variety of effects.

In addition to CBD and THC, scientists have identified more than 100 different cannabinoids in the cannabis plant, and many remain unidentified.

When used together, the unique properties of each cannabinoid are enhanced through the entourage effect, naturally providing greater relief than they would individually.

Terpenes and the Entourage effect

The terpenes are the aromatic molecules found in most fruits, plants and herbs, including cannabis. They are the source of the pungent scent of lemon, the pungent aroma of pine and the relaxing flavor of lavender.

In cannabis, terpenes are produced in the sticky resin glands of the plant and are responsible for the variety of unique aromas secreted by different strains of cannabis.

By stimulating the receptors in our olfactory system, terpenes can stimulate a variety of psychological and physiological effects which can be of great benefit to the body.

Flavonoids and the Entourage effect

Flavonoids are a broad category of chemicals found in all kinds of plants including cannabis. They often act as coloring agents; you will find them in high concentration in blueberries or beets but more exactly in Blueberry or purple kush.

Flavonoids are perfectly safe for human consumption and may offer certain health benefits, although there is no clear scientific consensus on their benefits, the most interesting effects of flavonoids on cannabis are its flavor and its effect on aroma.  

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Certain flavonoids can promote rest and neurological health. While the effect may be subtle, you can imagine how hundreds of flavonoids combined could significantly alter the effects of a particular strain of cannabis.

How cannabis compounds can work together

When we smoke or vaporize, our bodies absorb hundreds of botanicals. Each comes with unique effects and benefits, and their behavior may vary in the presence of other compounds. This is the entourage effect.

It's kind of like how your mood can change depending on your social surroundings, when you're alone or when you're going out with your best friends. Your mood and the personality you project change depending on who is in the room.

To illustrate the entourage effect in cannabis, there are unfortunately very few studies that explore these synergies in humans, this is still only a theory supported by a small body of research, and of course , tons of anecdotal evidence from curious fans around the world experimenting with new strains ...

The first example of the entourage effect was given by the team of Prof. Mechoulam (1998) who described that the activity of the endocannabinoid 2-AG was increased by other 2-acilglycerols. This discovery is probably not one of the most interesting and practical for most people who use cannabis, but it was, after all, the first step in studying the entourage effect and opening the door. to other discoveries more practical for everyday life

The combination of THC and CBD is one of the most studied and one of the most fun. We know that this combination, when used to treat cancer pain, is significantly better tolerated by patients than pure THC extract (Johnson et al, 2010).

The Entourage effect in CBD

When buying CBD, there are several types of CBD to choose from:

  • CBD isolate
  • Full spectrum CBD
  • Broad spectrum CBD
  • Whole plant extracts

Depending on the type of CBD used, the impact of the entourage effect can vary widely. To understand which CBD products can maximize the entourage effect, let's explore the various chemical profiles of each type.

CBD isolate

CBD isolate is produced by isolating the CBD and removing all other compounds and substances from the extract. The result is a pure CBD extract. CBD isolate products do not contain any other cannabinoids or terpenes and, therefore, will not produce the Entourage effect. CBD isolate can provide the therapeutic effects of CBD; However, unless the user is coerced into pure CBD for legal reasons, CBD isolates greatly limit the potential effects of cannabis.

Full spectrum CBD

Full Spectrum CBD is produced by extracting all of the cannabinoids and terpenes found in the cannabis plant, including THC.

Because Full Spectrum contains a full spectrum of cannabinoids and terpenes, it can produce a powerful entourage effect with benefits that will far exceed those provided by the isolate.

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Due to the legal status of THC in Europe, Full Spectrum CBD should not exceed the limit amount varying from 0.2% to 0.6% THC, depending on the jurisdiction.

Broad spectrum CBD

Broad spectrum CBD is a mix between CBD isolate and full spectrum CBD.

Similar to full spectrum CBD, broad spectrum CBD is produced by extracting all of the cannabinoids and terpenes from the plant; however, it then undergoes an additional process to completely remove all of the THC from the extract.

By removing THC from the extract, broad spectrum CBD can offer most of the benefits of full spectrum CBD, without the strict legal regulations.

Whole plant extract

Whole plant extracts are often confused with Full Spectrum CBD; however, they are not the same.

While both extracts contain a full range of cannabinoids and terpenes, whole plant extracts undergo less processing than full spectrum extracts and may contain other compounds naturally produced in the plant including fats, fibers, vitamins and other nutrients.

Ultimately, whole plant extracts will produce the strongest entourage effect, however, they are generally regulated by the same laws as THC.

The evolution of cannabis through artificial selection

But to this first comparison, we must add the fact that the cannabis plant has evolved much faster thanks to artificial selection: probably because we know that cannabis has a psychoactive utility (medical or recreational), we have interested in breeding the strongest varieties of this plant.

Whether this activity is due exclusively to THC or to increasingly complex interactions with other cannabinoids, the grower has always cared little, of course: you don't have to understand the exact chemical process to look up. more and more powerful varieties.

Urban artist the average concentration of THC in weed has increased these last years. This fact alone gives us an idea of ​​how artificial selection can modify genetics with astonishing speed.

Either way, it's important to keep in mind for all of these examples that research is still in its early stages.

There are over 100 cannabinoids in the plant, but if we also consider terpenes and other substances, we will find that each cannabis plant contains over 400 different chemical compounds, which opens up a huge range of possible combinations that we still don't know how they work.

With this article I have tried to make an introduction to what the entourage effect is and to the best known examples so far.

To repeat, the entourage effect remains an unproven theory. But as terpenes and newer cannabinoids become issues of intrigue for consumers, we're likely to find more research on the horizon.

Tags : flavonoidEndocannabinoid systemterpene
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Weed media broadcaster and communications manager specializing in legal cannabis. Do you know what they say? knowledge is power. Understand the science behind cannabis medicine, while staying up to date with the latest health related research, treatments and products. Stay up to date with the latest news and ideas on legalization, laws, political movements. Discover tips, tricks and how-to guides from the most seasoned growers on the planet as well as the latest research and findings from the scientific community on the medical qualities of cannabis.