You probably have heard about the entourage effect over the past few years; but maybe you don’t really know what it means exactly or how it relates to cannabis. Recent scientific researches that study the chemical composition of marijuana say that this concept is way more important than what it initially seemed. Once you learn about it, you’ll be able to enjoy your strains to their fullest; understanding that flavors, scents and effects can vary according to different factors explained hereunder.
What is the Entourage Effect?
The entourage effect is based on the synergy of different cannabis compounds, such as cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, polyphenols, lignans and other chemical elements. All of them are part of an entourage effect; which causes a greater effect on the body than if they all acted separately. Studying and understanding their different combinations opens a world of possibilities regarding cultivation, distribution and consumption of therapeutic marijuana.
This is the speed and potency boost that cannabinoids and terpenes acquire together. Combining them increases cannabis medicinal effects to treat depression, anxiety, inflammations and muscle aches, among other physical and mental conditions.
In general, THC psychoactivity is associated with secondary effects such as anxiety or paranoia. On the other hand, CBD is specially linked to therapeutic treatments; as this component does not alter mental faculties and produces pleasant and soft sedative sensations. When the two cannabinoids come together, they provide more balanced effects, which in addition to the terpenes present in each variety, could mean more enjoyable and bearable sensations.
Cannabinoids and Terpenes, Responsible for the Entourage Effect
The endocannabinoid system is a group of cannabinoid receptors present in mammals that is in charge of multiple physiological activities. Endocannabinoids generate in the body, while phytocannabinoids naturally synthesized by plants.
Marijuana’s most important cannabinoids are THC and CBD. These chemical compounds are the main responsible for cannabis effects, but other active elements with similar molecular structures also have great relevance, such as CBN, CBG, THCV or CBC, among others.
Terpenes are aromatic components that contribute to improving cannabis effects. Apart from their aromatic function, they also repel different pollinating insects as well as bacteria and fungi. They are present in plenty of other plants apart from cannabis. These are some of the most known terpenes that boost therapeutic properties: myrcene, limonene, beta-caryophyllene, linalool or beta-pinene.
How was the Entourage Effect Discovered?
The first person that referenced the entourage effect caused by cannabis chemical compounds was Israeli doctor Raphael Mechoulam, in 1998. He was also in charge of isolating and synthesizing different cannabinoids like THC, CBD and CBG, among others. The study, published in the European Journal of Pharmacology, discovered that cannabinoids’ effects were greater when in contact with other fatty acid ester compounds.
Over the years, the scientific community decided to further their investigations and got to define this concept as the interaction of cannabis chemical elements. One of the biggest exponents is Dr. Ethan Russo, an American neurologist that listed the multiple potential therapeutic benefits possibly obtained through the entourage effect to treat muscle aches, cancer, epilepsy or depression.
Scientific studies proving the analgesic, anti-inflammatory, anti-cancerous and neuroprotective properties of medicinal cannabis have been ongoing ever since. This incipient interest for cannabis medicinal qualities has promoted the research and production of a large variety of products other than flowers; like for example broad-spectrum CBD oils, gels, creams or even suppositories.
What are the Results of Such Effect?
The entourage effect is a multidisciplinary concept that responds to the unique peculiarities and characteristics of the different types of cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids and other elements present in each and every cannabis strain. For this reason, effects can vary greatly from one strain to the other due to the different indica or sativa distributions, THC, CBD and terpenes content.
Sativa strains produce euphoric and energizing cerebral sensations; while indicas are more narcotic, sedative and relaxing on a physical level. However, each strain is unique and features an exclusive terpene profile. Two strains with similar THC content can produce very different sensations.
The THC-CBD synergy, specially in 1:1 ratios produces well-balanced and bearable effects as CBD counteracts THC’s psychoactivity, turning the high into a more pleasant and less heavy experience. However, in Europe, medicinal strains have less than 1% of Tetrahydrocannabinol and in plenty of cases, less than 0.3%.
Certain cannabinoids and terpenes relieve pain and reduce muscle inflammation when combined together; as is the case with linalool and THC. The combination of CBD, linalool and limonene is a great option to clear acne and other skin conditions. Caryophyllene features antidepressant and anxiolytic properties while myrcene relieves pain, both have sedative qualities.
A New World to Discover
The cannabis industry is constantly evolving. Nowadays you can purchase exclusive marijuana seeds with unique genetic codes to suit all tastes. Meeting the needs and expectations of cannabis growers and consumers is one of the main objectives of seed banks like GB Strains, Sweet Seeds, Barney’s Farm, etc. Cannabinoids and terpenes potential enhances through vaporization.
Another way of experiencing the entourage effect is by using broad-spectrum CBD oil, which doesn’t have any THC but contains terpenes and other compounds, or isolated CBD oil, which, as its name says, it’s the purest form of Cannabidiol oil. The entourage effect is the base to promising studies and researches regarding medicinal cannabis properties. Taking this principle into account opens the door to creating strains to suit all tastes and needs.