The Entourage Effect Explained
In this article we will be talking about the entourage effect, what it is and how we can use it to our advantage. We will focus on how we can benefit from this phenomenon in relation to cannabis, where many unique elements appear together and how the effects are different with isolated elements.
WHAT IS THE ENTOURAGE EFFECT?
The entourage effect is a phenomenon where several different compounds work together to achieve an effect that would be impossible for them to achieve on their own. This “accompanying“ effect is the sum of the effects that compounds can produce in the relationship to each other.
The cannabis plant has more than 400 hundred unique chemicals, each affecting us in a different way. There are more than 100 cannabinoids, 200 terpenes, many flavonoids, and several phenolic compounds. Some of these compounds are inactive, some are active, beneficial, and good for us like CBD. Some are even psychoactive and potentially dangerous, like THC!
But when in relation to each other, the effect of one compound can be pronounced, while the effect of another compound can be diminished. This way one compound can become more effective when combined with another one. (or less effective.) Sometimes, an inactive compound can even become active in combination with other compounds!
Basically, the entourage effect is the combined effect of many compounds acting together in harmony. As an analogy, imagine a pianist playing the piano. While the sound of the music he creates can be amazingly wonderful, when he is accompanied by a singer, the music gets to another level. Though, If the singer is bad and sings too loud, the pianist would probably be better playing on his own. So the entourage effect doesn’t automatically translate into a better experience. But I think we all agree that listening to a professional orchestra playing in tune, accompanied by a choir or an opera singer, delivers the ultimate music experience.
And we believe that the same can be said for medicinal plants like cannabis. Their healing is the greatest when the widest spectrum of plant components is consumed. In other words, nature knows best!
Looking at science and research
While the Endocannabinoid system we have in our bodies is mostly being accepted in medical fields, the entourage effect still remains more of a theory.
I would like to stay away from in-vitro studies done in labs and in vivo studies done on rats. This article will be mostly based on studies performed by doctor Ethan Russo. He helped GW Pharmaceuticals to develop the only two phytocannabinoid-based registered drugs. (Sativex and Epidiolex) He should be the right address for concrete information about the entourage effect! You can read more about his finding on his website.
Is the entourage effect real?
According to Dr. Russo, yes. He is a firm believer in the synergistic effects of plant-based compounds. That’s why Sativex, the cannabinoid drug he helped to develop, consists of both cannabidiol (CBD) and Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). The ratio of these most common cannabis compounds in Sativexis is 1:1. While this ratio might not be perfect in all scenarios, it supports the idea of cannabinoid synergy.
For example, isolated CBD on its own doesn’t produce many effects, some studies even point towards inactivity. But if consumed together with THC, for example, 10mg of CBD and 1mg of THC, the CBDs effects can be greater than the effects of 100mg CBD alone.
Taking Sativex as an example, where the ratio could be 10mg THC to 10mg CBD, the effects of CBD are pronounced by THC. Additionally, when CBD is influencing on cannabinoid receptors, it also prevents the full effect of THC. This is seen in diminished negative side effects of THC, like racing heart, anxiety, red eyes.
This is an example of cannabinoid synergy.
Like in a basketball game, where having both a strong defense and strong offense is important!
Terpene Entourage effect
The role of terpenes in the Entourage effect is ever so important! What are terpenes? They are the building blocks of aromas. Theres thousands of them and their combinations are what give plants their distinct smell.
As we mentioned before, more than 200 terpenes were found present in the cannabis plant. Although some specific terpenes are way more prevalent than others, interesting discoveries point to them directly influencing our endocannabinoid system!
One research from the University of Arizona Health Sciences found evidence that points to cannabis terpenes having a role in pain therapies with fewer side effects. The study credits entourage effect for producing better effects with smaller doses.
Terpenes and cannabinoids are both located in the trichomes, the resin glands of the cannabis plant. They are basically cousins too, as they share the same precursor, Geranyl pyrophosphate.
So the theory that these plant components are sharing similarities in effects is not far fetched!
Why did GW Pharmaceuticals also include a wide array of terpenes in the formulation of Epidiolex? Epidiolex is the registered cannabinoid drug in the EU, where isolated cannabidiol is the only cannabinoid component. Why would they enrich the CBD isolate with terpenes, if not for the entourage effect?
Anecdotal evidence of The Entourage effect
- Many patients report a completely different experience when taking Marinol, as opposed to consuming high THC medicinal cannabis. Marinol is a registered cannabinoid drug, available in the US, where synthetic THC is the only active ingredient. They find it much better to consume medicinal cannabis rich in THC, along with the full spectrum of plant compounds.
- Full-spectrum CBD hemp extracts are found to be more effective than broad-spectrum extracts, which are more effective than isolated CBD.
- CBD extracts rich in Cannabinol (CBN) are supposedly producing a more sedating effects
- CBD extract rich in Cannabigerol (CBG) are supposedly producing a more clarifying and focused effect
- CBD extracts rich in Tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV) are supposedly producing an appetite decreasing effect
- Hemp varieties rich in terpene myrcene are said to produce a much more sedating effect than others, even though the cannabinoid content is similar. Mango, the fruit which contains a lot of myrcene is said to potentiate effect of THC if eaten before THC consumption.
- Hemp varieties rich in terpene limonene are said to produce a more stimulating effect
- Hemp varieties rich in linalool are said to produce a more relaxing effect. Linalool is also the most common terpene in lavender. Lavender is being praised for its relaxing effects!
- Black pepper is rich in terpene Beta-caryophyllene. Black pepper is commonly used as a co-ingredient to cannabis preparations with THC. The calming effects of beta-caryophyllene can supposedly greatly diminish the negative effects THC has on anxiety.
Types of CBD products that produce the entourage effect
Different types and forms of CBD produce different effects which is also noticeable with the entourage effect. The experience is usually the best with an unprocessed plant but there are other options.
- The first option would be to eat the raw plant. But in practice, it is not a viable or convenient way of consumption to most users.
- A more convenient option may be why we offer the option of purchasing the CBD drops formulated with full-spectrum Raw CBD extract, which is available for purchase on our site?
This kind of extract contains all the compounds from flavonoids, heavier oils, waxes, lots of terpenes, and many cannabinoids still in acid form. (inactive form)
- While some users prefer Raw CBD extracts, many prefer a little more refined version. Our full spectrum Premium CBD oils offer the same amount of beneficial substances, while some of not so important components are removed. With the removal of chlorophyll and waxes, the CBD oil has a milder taste and less sediment. We believe that chlorophyll is healthy, but not when its intake is counted in drops. As the added value of chlorophyll is minuscule, and when its impact on the taste does not appeal to most, we rather remove it from our flagship product. This full-spectrum extract is also decarboxylated. This means that the cannabinoids are converted from their acid form into their active form. The decarboxylation is done slowly, under vacuum, and at a low temperature so no precious substances are lost in the process!
- Then there are the more recently popularized CBD products such as gummies or wax. We can still talk about the entourage effect with them but there is not yet any concrete data regarding the specific effects it may produce.
Broad-spectrum entourage effect
The main problem for CBD users who want to consume full-spectrum CBD extracts is the THC content in them. Although the amount of THC is below 0.2%, so below the legal limit, we completely understand their concern. First, some people can be really sensitive to THC so they can have a negative reaction to full-spectrum CBD products. Especially if they are not used to them and start with a dosage higher than they should. Second, even though the amount of THC is almost negligible it can still show on a drug test. Many athletes or those whose jobs demand regular drug testings, just cannot afford the risk. For this kind of CBD users, we have developed Broad Spectrum THC-Free CBD drops. Some compounds are indeed lost during the THC removal process, but the product still offers a wide spectrum of beneficial substances.
For those who want to experience the effects of CBD and only CBD, we offer formulations with CBD isolate as well. But unless we introduce additional cannabinoids or terpenes into the formulation, the entourage effect will not manifest.
How To Get The CBD Entourage Effect
CBD products can be formulated with many different hemp extracts. Here you can find out how the entourage effect can be manifested from the raw extracts to the isolated cannabinoids.
If we are talking about the entourage effect, a refined form of CBD is definitely not what you are looking for as we are dealing with one component. You should focus on the full-spectrum products (which provide most if not all of the compounds found in the plant) or whole plant CBD which also includes the wax and other material found in the plant. The two are very similar with the latter essentially being the less refined version.
To get the best entourage experience, an unprocessed cannabis plant should be consumed. Ideally, with the vaporization of cannabis flower. Vaporized cannabinoids and terpenes show the best bioavailability!
As mentioned above there is also the broad spectrum CBD, where the components of THC have been removed along with some of the combined effects. But for many it presents the perfect balance of benefits without the side effects.
Manufacturing Full-Spectrum extracts
At Essentia Pura, we are not denying the entourage effect. We are also not presenting it as a fact, as plenty more research needs to be done in regard. But we believe in whole plant medicine! I think everyone agrees that lemonade, rich in all kinds of nutrients and vitamins is healthier than vitamin C alone.
And we project the same vision into cannabis. We want to capture the whole essence of the plant, without disturbing its original chemical composition. In this process, supercritical carbon dioxide is our best ally. We use this ultimate extraction technology to extract all the goodness from the plant world, and deliver it in the purest form to our customers.
We are one of the leading full-spectrum CBD manufacturers in Europe, proudly offering full-spectrum CO2 hemp extracts in all kinds of different formulations.