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When conducting research into cannabis and CBD specifically, the entourage effect will consistently come up. The entourage effect is a phenomenon often associated with cannabis where cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, and other compounds produce a combined effect that is far more powerful than a single ingredient used in isolation. One way of considering the entourage effect is to imagine the compounds of the hemp plant working as a team instead of each compound effecting the body in its own individual manner.
What is the Entourage Effect?
The entourage effect was first documented in 1998 by Shimon Ben-Shabat et al. They suggested that “various inactive metabolites and related molecules appeared to boost the activity of primary endogenous cannabinoids in the body.”
Put simply, the entourage effect maximises the therapeutic potential of CBD oil. The teamwork of the aforementioned components of the cannabis plant interact concurrently, producing a synergistic physiological effect. Essentially, CBD relies on the presence of alternative cannabinoids, such as CBN and CBDA, alongside terpenes such as myrcene to enhance the impact of CBD on certain systems within our body.
Cannabis Compounds & the Entourage Effect
There are over 150 different cannabinoids that are found in the cannabis plant, the two most famous compounds are cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). It is THC that causes the psychoactive effect which is synonymous with recreational cannabis use.
It is not only the content of THC & CBD that give a strain of cannabis its characteristics. It is the minor cannabinoids and terpenes that enable the entourage effect and the experience of using cannabis would not be the same.
Compounds that enable the Entourage Effect
There are over 100 phytocannabinoids which is a type of active ingredient that has an impact on the level of the entourage effect. The effect of CBD and THC is gradually being understood but many of the other compounds are still a mystery.
There is some limited research that points towards the enabling relationship of CBD and THC. This particular study, conducted in 2010, provided cancer patients with Sativex, which is a balanced combination of CBD and THC.
While one group was given Sativex, a second received pure THC extract and a third group were given a placebo. Of the three groups, Sativex was found to be the most effective pain reliever, with 40% of patients reporting it as effective. This was more than double the percentage of patients who reported THC extract as an effective pain reliever. While the THC content of both these groups was the same, it appeared that the presence of CBD was enhancing the pain-relieving potential of the THC.
Furthermore, there are many aromatic compounds and ones that affect the flavour of the plant. Many of these compounds are believed to have health benefits and improve the quality of life for those who use them. These compounds include:
Flavonoids are chemicals that are present in many fruits, vegetables, and herbs. Flavonoids are phytonutrients which are a type of natural compound produced by plants. The flavonoids in plant matter contribute to the plant’s appearance and the presence of flavonoids in many fruits dictates its colour. When you see a fruit that is very bright, it is the plant’s flavonoids that cause the bright colour.
Flavonoids can also have a large impact on the taste of fruits.
It is common knowledge that eating high quality fruit and vegetables is imperative for longevity and to maximise your long-term health. There is an increasing amount of research that implies that flavonoids could be one of the primary reasons behind these benefits.
Certain flavonoids are associated with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects within the body. Hemp and cannabis plants are rich in flavonoids, and this could be a key reason as to why cannabis can have numerous health benefits.
Flavonoids may be responsible for providing fruits, vegetables and other plants with their colour and flavour. Terpenes are responsible for the scent of the plant. Terpenes are a naturally occurring compound that are found in plants that impact the plant’s aromatic effect. In the cannabis plant there are unique terpene profiles that are responsible for the plant’s distinctive and recognisable scent.
Terpenes are thought to effect specific parts of the body. Many terpenes in the hemp and cannabis plants are believed to contribute to pain relief and changes in mood. Including from anxiety, depression, and stress.
The evidence to support the therapeutic benefits of terpenes is still limited and much more research needs to be carried out before medical claims can be definitively made and treatments can be designed to incorporate terpenes. That said, it is becoming increasingly clear that the role of terpenes have been greatly underestimated in the past.
Do CBD Isolate Products Provide the Entourage Effect?
Products that only contain CBD isolate only have CBD in them and no other cannabinoid. CBD isolate products don’t contain any THC, naturally occurring flavonoids, terpenes or other compounds that are found in the cannabis and hemp plants.
This is done by isolating CBD in the production process and the additional cannabinoids, flavonoids and terpenes are discarded in the process.
In the UK all ingestible CBD products must be formulated with CBD isolate or distillate with 0% THC.
To obtain the entourage effect, you really need to use Full-Spectrum CBD oil.
The entourage effect of CBD is the combined impact of the cannabis plant’s terpenes, flavonoids, cannabinoids and fatty acids all operating in tandem, altering the way you think and feel. Many people believe that the entourage effect is imperative to experience the true medicinal benefits of CBD.The entourage effect of CBD is the combined impact of the cannabis plant’s terpenes, flavonoids, cannabinoids and fatty acids all operating in tandem, altering the way you think and feel. Many people believe that the entourage effect is imperative to experience the true medicinal benefits of CBD.