Now that cannabis has become more mainstream than ever before, scientists have had increased opportunities to research it. It seems every day we learn some new curious tidbit about this magical plant. One of the most exciting discoveries made in recent decades is the entourage effect.
What Is The Entourage Effect?
The entourage effect is a term popularized by Dr. Ethan Russo. The theories in his 2011 paper, Taming THC: potential cannabis synergy and phytocannabinoid-terpenoid entourage effects, have radically changed the way those of us in the cannabis industry view terpenes and minor cannabinoids.
To better understand what exactly the entourage effect is, we first have to explain a few of the important compounds found in cannabis.
What are Cannabinoids?
Some of the most important compounds found in cannabis are called cannabinoids. Scientists have identified over 100 different cannabinoids, but there are two that you’re already likely familiar with CBD and THC.
These two cannabinoids are often associated with one another, despite having radically different effects on the body. Here’s an abridged breakdown of CBD vs THC: THC is the cannabinoid responsible for producing the famous “high” that can accompany cannabis use. CBD, on the other hand, does not produce any intoxicating effects and is generally taken therapeutically as opposed to recreationally. Scientists suspect that the reason CBD doesn’t create mind-altering sensations in the same way THC does has to do with the way it interacts with our endocannabinoid system.
While cannabinoids can be an amazing addition to your wellness routine, make sure not overdo it, or it can lead to cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome.
What are Terpenes?
The other molecules key to the entourage effect are terpenes. Cannabis is a notoriously fragrant plant. Enthusiasts are able to identify it’s skunky, earthy aromas from a mile away. The reason that cannabis possesses its unique smell, is due to terpenes.
They’re not just in cannabis either. If you’ve ever taken the time to stop and smell the roses, what you’re actually smelling are terpenes. These aromatic molecules are responsible for the sleepy scent of lavender, the tangy aroma of citrus, and even the piny smell of a northwestern forest.
Terpenes do more than just smell nice, they also play an essential role in plant reproduction and survival. Some vegetation evolved to produce foul-smelling, or bitter terpenes in order to ward off potential predators, while others developed sweet aromas to attract pollinators.
Amazingly, recent research suggests that terpenes have a medicinal effect on human beings. For example, the terpene limonene, commonly found in fruits, possesses anti-inflammatory properties. Many terpenes have strong anti-bacterial characteristics and are healthy antioxidants.
What is the Entourage Effect?
So now we’ve covered that both cannabinoids and terpenes can have beneficial effects on the human body, we can better explain the fascinating phenomenon known as the entourage effect.
Think about a basketball team. A talented shooting guard can rack up tons of points on their own, but when they’re assisted by a skillful point guard, they are even more effective at scoring.
Well, it turns out, cannabis is kind of like a basketball team in that regard. CBD on its own can be a powerful therapeutic agent, but when combined with a team of other cannabinoids and terpenes, it can be even more effective.
One of the strong examples of how the entourage effect can work in real life presented in Dr. Russo’s now famous 2011 paper has to do with the bacterial staph infections (MRSA). Both the cannabinoids CBD and CBG have antibacterial properties that can inhibit the growth of staph infections. The terpene pinene is known to be an antibacterial agent. So while taking CBD isolate could help to treat a staph infection, using a cannabis product that contains CBD, CBG, and pinene would be even more effective. That’s the entourage effect in a nutshell.
How to Encourage the Entourage Effect When Using CBD
Now that we know what the entourage effect is, let’s discuss the best ways to go about accessing it.
One way to encourage the entourage effect is to use CBD products that have been labeled as either broad-spectrum or full-spectrum. Broad-spectrum CBD products will contain various levels of different cannabinoids and terpenes, but will not include any THC. The difference with full-spectrum is that these products will contain THC, though it’s often a negligible amount. However, if you have concerns about a drug test for THC, broad-spectrum may be the better option.
There’s an even better way to bring on the entourage effect, and that’s using CBD rich hemp flower, like what’s found in stelo™. Extracts that are labeled full or broad spectrum don’t necessarily use the same cannabinoids and terpenes from a single plant. Oftentimes, these compounds are isolated, and then Frankensteined together. A more harmonious approach to the entourage effect is using all-natural flower.
The elon®, our revolutionary CBD delivery device, uses concentric heating and buttonless technology makes accessing the entourage effect with real hemp flower easier than ever before.
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