The “Entourage Effect”

Whole plant working together for outstanding health benefits! 

“The Entourage Effect” was a term first used by S. Ben-Shabat and Dr. Raphael Mechoulam in 1998. This term describes the total effect of all the components in cannabis, the culmination of a unique and synergistic combination of cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids. This culmination produces maximum medical efficiency and ultimately allows patients to pinpoint which strains will work best for them. 

Cannabinoids area group of terpenophenolic chemical compounds concentrated in the viscous resin of the glandular trichomes on the plant bud. Some are responsible for the main effects of cannabis and others have significant medical properties. There are over 100 known cannabinoids and many are still being discovered as more research uncovers findings. These cannabinoids interact with our endocannabinoid system, binding to our CB1 and CB2 receptors, offering therapeutic and beneficial medical benefits. 

Terpenes are volatile organic compounds and are what give premium quality cannabis its uniquely complex taste and smell. They are an important component to the overall cannabis experience. They influence a strain’s taste and smell while also influencing its effects on the body and mind. Over 100 have been identified in cannabis alone. Terpenes are instrumental in delivering the physiological and psychoactive effects of cannabis, working in accord to either catalyze or inhibit the effects of other compounds within the plant, and their profiles vary from strain to strain. From the cannabis plant’s wide variety of chemicals and compounds, approximately 140 are terpenes. Production of terpenes is increased with light exposure and provide the plant with natural protection from bacteria, fungus, insects, and other environmental stressors. 

Terpenes unique to cannabis interact with cannabinoids to create a specific effect. For example, while pinene is used as an anti-inflammatory, expectorant, bronchodilator, and local antiseptic, it lessens the effects of THC. Myrcene lowers the resistance across the blood-brain barrier, allowing itself and many other chemicals to cross the barrier easier and more quickly. Along with that, myrcene is packed full of medical benefits ranging from being a potent analgesic to blocking actions of promutagenic carcinogens. Strains high in limonene have strong citrusy smells and promote general uplifting mood and attitude along with assisting with the absorption of other terpenes through the skin and other body tissues. Limonene also suppresses the growth of many species of fungus and bacteria. Linalool has been used for centuries as a sleep aid and helps to lessen the anxious emotions brought on by pure THC. Linalool can also restore cognitive and emotional function, making it useful in the treatment of Alzheimer’s. Caryophyllene is the only terpene known to interact with the endocannabinoid’s CB2 receptors, and studies have shown it may help in cancer treatment. Fine/Rosenbaum pain study shows that other phytocannabinoids in combination with CBD and beta-caryophyllene through a CB2 receptor-dependent pathway might be an excellent therapeutic agent to prevent nephrotoxicity caused by anti-cancer chemotherapy drugs. High caryophyllene strains are useful in treating a number of medical issues such as arthritis and neuropathy pain. Humulene is found in Sativa strains and considered to be an anti-tumor, anti-bacterial, anti-inflammatory and anorectic. Humulene is commonly blended with beta-caryophyllene as a major remedy for inflammation. That’s just naming a few of the terpenes in cannabis. There are many more, with many more waiting to be discovered. 

Flavonoids account for approximately 10% of bioactive compounds discovered in cannabis with about 20 varieties known to exist in cannabis. They aren’t unique to the cannabis plant, existing through nature with over 6,000 varieties of flavonoids discovered. They affect the pigmentation of cannabis, just as they do with other fruits, vegetables, and flowers. Their primary function is to provide color to plants for the purpose of attracting pollinators, and are responsible for protecting plants against the elements such as potentially harmful UV rays, pests, and disease. They give cannabis character, providing distinct qualities used to differentiate between strain varieties. Odor and flavor are possible in cannabis due to the terpenes and flavonoids sharing synergistic qualities with one another. Whether flavonoids enhance the properties of cannabinoids or modulate their efficacy isn’t fully known and can be researched further once federal actions are lifted in the US allowing further research to take place. 

Flavonoids unique to cannabis are Cannaflavin A, Cannaflavin B, and Cannaflavin C. They are currently being studied for their potential medical benefits. Cannaflavin A is pharmacologically active and holds anti-inflammatory properties that may be stronger than those found in typical NSAIDs. Other highly active flavonoids found in cannabis include Quercetin, Silymarin, and Kaempferol. All of these flavonoids hold anti-inflammatory, anti-fungal, anti-oxidant, and anti-cancer potential. 

The market is flooded with different CBD products. Making sure you get the right product for obtaining the entourage effect can be as simple as paying attention to the product you’re purchasing. You want to look for a Full Spectrum or a Broad Spectrum product, whether it be a tincture or infused gummy. Full Spectrum is simply all of the compounds of the plant, with trace amounts of THC which can be beneficial because THC and CBD are synergistic and perform best for pain relief and healing disease when they are used together. Full Spectrum also has terpenes and flavonoids which are also part of the cannabis make up. Full Spectrum allows the entire plant to work as a whole, magnifying the therapeutic benefits of each individual cannabinoid and terpene. Full Spectrum is great for individuals who were recommended a THC to CBD ratio, or whose conditions are more severe than CBD isolate or Broad Spectrum can alleviate. 

Broad Spectrum is like Full Spectrum, however, it has no THC whatsoever. It still has a host of all the other very beneficial cannabinoids along with terpenes and flavonoids, which all work together synergistically as well, just the THC is removed.  With Broad Spectrum you get the benefits of the entourage effect without the component of THC and the benefits it has to offer.  Broad Spectrum is great for individuals with conditions CBD isolate alone cannot help relieve, those with a sensitivity to THC or who live in states with strict THC laws, or those new to CBD products who are not quite sure about a product containing THC. 

Isolates are irrelevant to mention in this article due to the fact that this article is about the entourage effect. You will not feel any entourage effect on an isolate alone as it is purely CBD with no other cannabinoids, terpenes or flavonoids or other compounds the plant has to offer. 

The entourage effect produces maximum medical efficiency. It allows patients to distinguish which strains work best for them and doctors to tailor their strains to their patient’s specific needs. It is well known that chemical analysis is needed to know absolutely what’s in your cannabis. Dr. Yazbeck, CEO of MyDx- invented the world’s first handheld chemical testing platform portable lab that utilizes an analyzer paired with a cannabis-specific sensor that is used to detect terpenes and cannabinoids. The Total Canna Profile (TCP) is a comprehensive analysis of three different cannabinoids and twenty-two terpenes, all delivered straight to your device using the CannaDX app. This will help empower patients, doctors, recreational users, and growers, allowing them to confirm the identity of a strain using a chemical blueprint.

Many properties in cannabis are synergistic. CBD and THC perform best for pain-relief and healing disease when they are used together. This is similar when you consider the terpenes and flavonoids, which are all part of the cannabis makeup. The entire plant is designed to work as a whole to produce the best effects.

Studies are uncovering so much potential for the cannabis plant. It truly is a miracle plant. When you look at all the factors and their healing potential it is mind-blowing how society hasn’t been taking advantage of this plant’s miraculous powers in the last century. As federal actions are lifted across the U.S., we will gain a better understanding of the role that cannabis cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids play. Until then, researchers internationally continue their studies, uncovering new discoveries in chemical profiling, allowing us to better understand the complex mysteries and truly healing qualities of cannabis.

With all the different medical benefits of each individual cannabinoid and the studies that show how cannabinoids effects are enhanced or magnified when working alongside other cannabinoids and components of the cannabis plants, it is almost no argument that the entourage effect is truly a more powerful approach at Cannabinoid treatment. Working together, the whole of the plant is greater than the sum of its parts. Now you know what to look for when looking for products that help provide the entourage effect, and you know what others are talking about when they refer to the entourage effect. It is a powerful source of cannabinoid treatment. I am excited to see what future studies uncover as laws are lifted and more in-depth research can be done. 

-Mary Jane

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