CBD Entourage Effect: What is its Significance?

It is widely believed that plants are best consumed the way nature intended. Attempting to purify them by means of chemical procedures can only reduce their potency.

For example, coca leaves are good for health and are in no way dangerous until they are distilled and synthesized to create cocaine. Similarly, poppy seeds are often safely used in food items, until they are used to make opium.

This is the idea that the Cannabis Entourage Effect is based on. All strains of cannabis sativa – hemp or marijuana – are best taken in its natural composition. This is why many choose to use a Full-Spectrum CBD product over a CBD Isolate.

What does Cannabis naturally contain?

Cannabis plants contain approximately 500 compounds, of which over 120 are cannabinoids, including Cannabidiol (CBD) and Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) – both of which have some therapeutic benefits [1]. Apart from cannabinoids, cannabis plants also contain several other compounds, including terpenoids, flavonoids, and fatty acids.

A school of thought among scientists and researchers are of the opinion that the combination of all these compounds in their natural form creates a more potent and effective product, no matter what their purpose may be – medicinal or recreational.

This is especially noticed in Full-Spectrum CBD products – the reason why many advocate for use of this variety of CBD products for therapeutic purposes.

Full-spectrum CBD products contain all kinds of cannabinoids (including CBD and THC), terpenes, flavonoids, and essential oils. They work in unison to magnify the therapeutic benefits of each individual compound. This effect is known as the Entourage Effect.

In fact, a lot of CBD advocates claim that the full-spectrum form is the most effective, no matter what the ailment, given that it has a much higher bioavailability [2].

So, what exactly is the Entourage Effect, and how does it play a part in helping people overcome their symptoms?

Significance of CBD Entourage Effect

The Entourage Effect [3, 4] is the beneficial effects on our body produced by the synergistic interaction of all cannabinoids, flavonoids, terpenes, and fatty acids found naturally in cannabis plants, as opposed to just an individual compound working alone.

When all these compounds interact together with our body, their effects are boosted, making them more potent and bioavailable. In short, it is a synergistic effect on our system – Teamwork!

In case of cannabis, it has been seen that the different compounds can amplify [5] each other’s chemistry, enhancing their effect on humans and animals alike and helping in addressing adverse symptoms more efficiently. Interestingly, scientists discovered the Entourage Effect when they compared the effects of THC with that of the whole plant.

Drug Marinol that became available in the mid-1980s to treat nausea and vomiting caused by cancer chemotherapy was not as preferred as was the whole plant.

It turned out that the over 100-odd other cannabinoids present in cannabis enhance [6] the effect of THC that, in isolation, was meant to prevent nausea. One of the most significant compounds, and also cannabinoids, in this case, was found to be CBD, as it modulates [7] the effects of THC on the human body.

Scientific research and clinical experimentation have revealed that specially bred cannabis plants that contain roughly equal amounts of THC and CBD are the most effective in relieving pain and other symptoms.

Besides, terpenes too have some very interesting benefits. These compounds are basically oils that not only give cannabis its unique smell and flavor, they also offer a variety of benefits.

What are Terpenes? Why are they important?

Terpenes [8] are aromatic compounds that give plants their specific flavor or taste. Besides, they also possess certain therapeutic properties of their own – the reason why terpenes are the basis of aromatherapy. Common terpenes are limonene (citrus fruits) and linalool (lavender). Some of the common terpenes found in cannabis are Caryophyllene, Limonene, Linalool, Myrcene – all of which have certain health benefits.

Apart from their innate medicinal values, terpenes also have another very important role. They intensify the power of the cannabinoids, especially CBD. In order to retain these terpenes during the extraction process, the raw cannabis should never be heated up to 300°F.

What are Flavonoids:

Flavonoids [8, 9 & 10] are phytonutrients that give plants a non-green color, like the red color of apples and berries. The flavonoid present in cannabis plants is called quercetin. This is known for its antimicrobial, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory properties.

Final Thoughts

Since ages, health practitioners have used cannabis for therapeutic purposes. Their logic seems to confirm the concept of Entourage Effect. In fact, many recent studies have also supported this idea.

This is definitely something to consider if you are trying out CBD for the first time. Even long-time users will do well to understand this concept if they feel their usage has not done been of any benefit to them so far.

Nonetheless, it is always wise to consult a physician who has experience in CBD and symptoms this cannabinoid is claimed to cure.

  1. Cannabis, cannabinoids, and health; Dialogues in Clinical Neuroscience; Sep 19, 2017; Genevieve Lafaye, MD; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5741114/
  2. A Systematic Review on the Pharmacokinetics of Cannabidiol in Humans; Frontiers in Pharmacology; November 26, 2018; Sophie A Millar, Nicole L Stone, Andrew S Yates, and Saoirse E O’Sullivan; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6275223/
  3. Appraising the “entourage effect”: Antitumor action of a pure cannabinoid versus a botanical drug preparation in preclinical models of breast cancer; Biochemical Pharmacology; June 27, 2018; Blasco-Benito S, Seijo-Vila M, Caro-Villalobos M, Tundidor I, Andradas C, García-Taboada E, Wade J, Smith S, Guzmán M, Pérez-Gómez E, Gordon M, Sánchez; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29940172
  4. Taming THC: potential cannabis synergy and phytocannabinoid-terpenoid entourage effects; British Journal of Pharmacology; August 16, 2011; Ethan B Russo; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3165946/
  5. Whole plant extracts versus single compounds for the treatment of malaria: synergy and positive interactions; Malaria Journal; March 15, 2011; Rasoanaivo P, Wright CW, Willcox ML, Gilbert B; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21411015
  6. Medical marijuana and ‘the entourage effect’; Dr Sanjay Gupta, CNN chief medical correspondent; March 11, 2014; https://edition.cnn.com/2014/03/11/health/gupta-marijuana-entourage/
  7. Does Cannabidiol Protect Against Adverse Psychological Effects of THC?; Frontiers in Psychiatry; October 16, 2013; Raymond J M Niesink, and Margriet W van Laar; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3797438/
  8. Medicinal Properties of Cannabinoids, Terpenes, and Flavonoids in Cannabis, and Benefits in Migraine, Headache, and Pain: An Update on Current Evidence and Cannabis Science; Headache; July 5, 2018; Baron EP; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30152161
  9. Cannabis and Its Secondary Metabolites: Their Use as Therapeutic Drugs, Toxicological Aspects, and Analytical Determination; Medicines (Basel); February 23, 2019; Joana Gonçalves, Tiago Rosado, Sofia Soares, Ana Y Simão, Débora Caramelo, Ângelo Luís, Nicolás Fernández, Mário Barroso, Eugenia Gallardo, and Ana Paula Duarte; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6473697/
  10. Chemistry and Biological Activities of Flavonoids: An Overview; The Scientific World Journal; December 29, 2013; Shashank Kumar and Abhay K Pandey; https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3891543/