As the popularity of CBD products continues to explode, more people are curious about using CBD as a health treatment option and the many medicinal benefits it offers. In the course of their research, people almost always run into the term “entourage effect.” We’re going to offer a look at what the entourage effect means, how it works, and touch on the benefits it offers those who take advantage of it.
To put it simply, the entourage effect refers to the enhanced effect of the full spectrum of cannabinoids and other botanical compounds in the cannabis plant when they are consumed simultaneously. There are about 500 botanical compounds in the cannabis plant, including THC, over 200 terpenes, and many other vitamins and minerals, protein and fiber, flavonoids, and omega fatty acids. CBD is helpful for millions of people, but if other beneficial elements built into the cannabis plant are left behind, and if we don’t take the time to fully understand them, CBD users are potentially missing out on a whole world of improved health benefits they never imagined.
However, many researchers have offered differing opinions on the existence of the entourage effect, its actual benefits, and some have also raised points suggesting potential harm it may cause to those suffering from specific ailments. Regardless of whether or not a specific entourage effect can take place or be created, it relates closely to the practice of whole-plant medicine, since it requires use of the cannabis plant as a whole, which humans have been using for thousands of years.
What is the Entourage Effect?
Think of the entourage effect like a musical orchestra, with many instruments working in unison to produce a unique, cohesive sound that is far more pleasant to experience than a single instrument playing alone in an empty music hall. As mentioned above, the cannabidiol in CBD products isn’t the sole savior when it comes to reducing pain or anxiety. CBN, BVDV, and the many hundreds of botanical compounds such as terpenes and beta-caryophyllene are crucial for boosting the effects of CBD. When these elements work together, users are experiencing the entourage effect. One of the most common and well-known entourage effects is the interaction between THC and CBD.
THC, the primary intoxicating cannabinoid in weed that creates a “high” is counterbalanced by the addition of CBD. The user will not feel as high and still experience a more enhanced relaxation than if taking CBD by itself. Additionally, CBD brings out THC’s potential medical benefits, such as antidepressant effects. Considering the hundreds and hundreds of botanical ingredients residing within the cannabis plant, it is staggering to think of some of the possibilities users can and may already be encountering when they experience full-spectrum products.
Full-spectrum consumption is also similar to how our ancestors experienced cannabis. Whole-plant medicines were used for thousands of years as natural remedies for common maladies such as joint pain and stress. Manufacturing drugs that contain only one active ingredient is a product of the contemporary pharmaceutical industry and is a relatively new phenomenon when taking the full range of human history into account. Thanks to current research, we see how the whole-plant approach can better serve humans in a natural, safe way. From this perspective, the entourage effect has always been with us and perhaps should not be considered such a new and exciting theory.
How it Works
The cannabis plant’s many cannabinoids bind to the body’s cannabinoid receptors, found in the endocannabinoid system (commonly referred to as ECS). The ECS is a massive collection of neurotransmitters assisting in the function of the nervous system, immune system, digestive system, which in turn work together to help regulate sleep, pain, motor control, appetite, digestive function, and more. When the full-spectrum of cannabinoids, terpenes, and other botanical compounds come into play and set off the entourage effect, they can dramatically improve the synergistic properties of the ECS, improving overall health and offering a better quality of life, especially for those suffering from chronic ailments.
The Benefits and Concerns
Numerous studies suggest that botanical compounds in cannabis have a greater effect when consumed together than when they are consumed individually. In Psychopharmacology, researchers presented evidence that consuming the full spectrum of cannabis extracts were two to four times more effective than taking THC by itself.
Aside from the enhanced therapeutic properties of phytocannabinoids and terpenoids, full-spectrum products also offer a wider range of nutrients that promote overall health and can supplement food diets. Taking both of these factors into consideration, it isn’t hard to see how users of full-spectrum CBD products also enjoy an improved spectrum of overall health. Physical and mental health, sleep, mood, and digestion all come into play when CBD users responsibly take advantage of the entourage effect. It is also important to consider what we don’t know about the entourage effect. For instance, THC is commonly used to treat glaucoma by lowering eye pressure. While research suggests THC on its own does a good job of treating the condition, CBD will prevent THC from performing its duty if we believe the entourage effect is real in all cases. What other chained effects should we expect from the limitless combinations of botanical elements contained within the cannabis plant.
Where to go From Here
As is the case with most talk around medical use of the cannabis plant, the entourage effect is generally considered a well-supported theory at the moment. Although growing research suggests it is a beneficial, actual effect that could have tremendous benefits, there is also counter research suggesting the entourage effect simply does not and cannot exist. Regardless, many companies, scientists, and healthcare professionals continue to research the possibilities of an entourage effect and as the body of knowledge continues to grow, it is more than likely some discovery will take place that is sure to move the industry forward in new and exciting ways.
If you are interested in learning more about the entourage effect and exploring products that are a good fit for you, we suggest contacting your healthcare provider or speaking with an established CBD provider.