What Is The CBD Entourage Effect?
CBD Entourage Effect Overview
When it comes to cannabis, CBD and THC get most of the headlines. But the cannabis plant has much more to offer with over one hundred cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, and other active chemical compounds.
These natural substances work together like a perfectly-rehearsed symphony that scientists call the “entourage effect.”
In this article, we’re going to explain the CBD entourage effect and highlight a series of research studies.
What Is The Entourage Effect?The entourage effect is the synergistic relationship between the active chemical compounds naturally present in the cannabis plant. These include:
- The two major cannabinoids (CBD and THC)
- The “minor” cannabinoids that are present in much smaller quantities (CBG, CBC, CBN, and the 108 others)
- Flavonoids, fatty acids, minerals, vitamins, and other phytochemicals
By synergistically working together -- as a whole -- these compounds produce greater benefits than CBD or THC by themselves.
Simply put, every compound provides a beneficial effect and intensifies the effects of the other molecules.
The entourage effect is maximized by whole-plant cannabis preparations, also known as full-spectrum extracts.
An easy way to understand this effect is to think of an orchestra.
When played together, the horns, violins, flutes, cellos, bass, and others, create music that moves people.
Similarly, while CBD or THC-only preparations can be beneficial, they’re more effective when combined with hundreds of other active ingredients. These compounds add their own benefits and boost each other’s effectiveness through synergistic interactions.
As the popular saying goes, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
Cannabinoids and the Entourage Effect
The main contributors to the entourage effect are cannabinoids: the main active compounds in cannabis. Although researchers have identified over 113 different cannabinoids, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) are the best known because they’re present in much higher amounts.
On its own, THC causes psychoactive side effects commonly known as the marijuana “high,” which can include euphoria, anxiety, paranoia, impaired memory, and slowed reaction time.
All cannabinoids can interact together in hundreds of unique ways. Researchers are only beginning to explore the ways in which cannabinoids work together and influence each other’s effects.
Terpenes and the Entourage Effect
Given the major impact of cannabinoids, it can be easy to overlook another type of beneficial cannabis compounds: terpenes.
Terpenes are a class of aromatic molecules produced by a variety of plants. The terpene pinene, for example, has the fragrance of pine trees.
Much like the case with cannabinoids, there are well over 100 different terpenes in cannabis plants, including linalool, limonene, myrcene, caryophyllene, and pinene. Terpene composition plays a big role in differentiating strains of cannabis.
Terpenes truly shine when coupled with cannabinoids, improving their effectiveness.
A recent study of the health effects of terpenes and their interactions with cannabinoids is the next great frontier of cannabis research.
Making Use Of CBD’s Entourage Effect: Whole-Plant CBD
We can see that CBD’s entourage effect is beneficial.
The answer is simple: look for CBD preparations made from the whole hemp plant.
Such extracts are typically called full or broad-spectrum CBD and undergo minimal processing. Full-spectrum extracts maintain all of the cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, and other naturally-occurring compounds in hemp.
While broad-spectrum extracts contain the same beneficial compounds the THC is removed.
By comparison, many products are made with CBD isolate: a >99% pure form of CBD.
Although these products are also beneficial, they don’t utilize the entourage effect.
CBD Entourage Effect: Holistic Benefits
If we think about CBD’s entourage effect from a natural perspective, it makes a lot of sense. Beneficial compounds rarely exist in their isolated form in nature. Instead, they’re combined with hundreds of other active ingredients.
If you want to maximize the wellness benefits of CBD oil and other CBD products, it’s best to use full or broad-spectrum products.