The two most notable compounds in cannabis are cannabidiol (CBD) and Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Many CBD users focus on these two compounds, not knowing that there are hundreds of other compounds occurring naturally in cannabis. These compounds have therapeutic benefits too and may improve your body’s health on their own.
Products that contain a blend of CBD and these other compounds are believed to be more potent than pure CBD products. The working of these compounds to produce superior results is what is referred to as the entourage effect.
Understanding the Entourage Effect
The entourage effect can be defined as the process by which various cannabis compounds work in synergy to boost each other’s health benefits and potency. It is believed that each of the naturally occurring cannabis compounds can influence the effect of all the others. This means the combination of compounds in your cannabis product doesn’t matter, as two is always better than one.
The CBD-THC Entourage Effect
Due to their abundance in most cannabis strains, THC and CBD produce one of the most studied effects in the human body.
THC is the cannabinoid behind the intoxicating effects of cannabis. It works by acting on the CB1 receptors on the body’s endocannabinoid system. There are two known subtypes of endocannabinoid receptors – CB1 and CB2 – and CBD only binds with the latter. It, however, affects the action of THC by reducing the amount of CB1 receptors available to bind with THC.
If you consume a product with as much CBD as THC, you will experience a less intense high than if you took more THC than CBD.
THC is popular for its psychoactive effects, but it has health benefits. The compound can be used as a remedy for:
Even without CBD, THC will produce the above effects, but, of course, you will experience the high too.
If, on the other hand, you took a product that contains only CBD, the effects on your body will be a lot different. For one, it will not induce any psychoactive side effects, but it will improve symptoms such as inflammation, depression, chronic pain, seizures, nausea, migraines, psychosis, and inflammatory bowel disease. Side effects, albeit extremely uncommon, may include irritability and fatigue.
What if a Product Contains all Cannabis Compounds?
Since THC and CBD are not the only compounds with pain relief effects, you will not be getting the most out of the cannabis plant, taking a product containing only the two. The best outcome and minimal side effects are achieved when as many cannabis compounds as possible reach your system at the same time.
Pinene, for instance, is a terpene that has been shown to thwart the effects of THC on your cognition and memory, leaving you to enjoy only the benefits of the compound.
Perhaps the reason nobody talks about the other cannabis compounds as much is that no one knows about them. However, there is enough evidence showing that there isn’t a single cannabinoid with more potency than any two or more combined.
Evidence Supporting the Entourage Effect
Several pieces of research have been conducted on the Entourage Effect over the past two decades, with most seeming to agree with the synergy claims.
One study conducted by Dr. Ethan Russo in 2011 was very comprehensive in explaining how terpenes combine with cannabinoids to increase each other’s potency.
Another study confirms that there is not a single cannabidiol that surpasses the potential of a whole-plant cannabis extract. This begs the question as to why some people still use CBD isolates instead of full-spectrum CBD.
To answer that briefly, not everyone is informed about the entourage effect or even if there are other compounds in cannabis besides THC and CBD.
There is also the issue of regulation, where some manufacturers falsely label their products as “full-spectrum.”
Lastly, some people just use CBD isolate, or CBD in its purest form, to avoid failing workplace drug tests, not because they are ignorant or they hate THC.
How to Get the Best CBD Entourage Effect
Experiencing the beneficial effect of a combination of all cannabis compounds is easy. You just need to find the right product.
There are three main CBD options available on the market:
- CBD Isolate;
- Broad-Spectrum CBD; and
- Full-Spectrum CBD.
CBD isolates contain only CBD, or, at least, that’s what they are meant to have.
THC isolates also exist for users who only want to get high. These products do not produce the entourage effect.
Broad-spectrum CBD contains CBD and every other cannabis compound but THC. Full-spectrum CBD on the other hand, contains everything that was in the cannabis plant it was extracted from.
Full-spectrum CBD is popular among people who are not intolerant to THC and want to experience the full Entourage Effect of the cannabis plant. This kind of CBD contains all cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, and fatty acids.
Broad-spectrum is almost as effective as its full-spectrum counterpart, only it takes the user around the effects of THC. If you don’t fancy getting high or are wary of failing a drug test but still want to reap the full benefits of the Entourage Effect, then broad-spectrum is the ideal option for you.
The Bottom Line
The Entourage Effect is still being studied. While the majority of the studies support the concept, there are a few that deem it a myth. An example is this recent research published in BioRxiv that was later shown to have been based on a few terpenoids, hence questionable.
Most researchers and CBD experts seem to be of the opinion that the Entourage Effect is real. If you are seeking it, ensure your broad-spectrum or full-spectrum product comes from a reliable seller. Otherwise, you may pay for a product that doesn’t conform to your needs and objectives.