The Entourage Effect
The Entourage Effect is a concept you may have come across when researching CBD products. In fact, one of the reasons why many people opt for full-spectrum CBD instead of pure CBD is because of the entourage effect.
Understanding the entourage effect will help you understand how CBD affects your body. This will enable you to choose CBD products that affect your body the way you desire.
If you’ve shopped for CBD products, you’ll have noticed that they fall into three main categories:
1) CBD isolate, which is pure CBD.
2) Full-spectrum CBD, which contains high amounts of CBD as well as small amounts of the other cannabinoids found in the plant, as well as flavonoids and terpenes.
3) Broad-spectrum CBD, which is full-spectrum CBD with some components removed, usually THC.
The type of CBD you choose depends on your needs. Many people opt for CBD isolate if they only want pure CBD. But what’s the benefit of full-spectrum CBD and broad-spectrum CBD? Why does it matter whether there are other cannabinoids in the product?
In essence, the magic of full-spectrum CBD is in the entourage effect.
What is the Entourage Effect?
The entourage effect is the theory that all compounds in cannabis and hemp plants are more beneficial when taken together.
Cannabis and hemp plants contain dozens of cannabinoids—perhaps as many as 120. The most well-known cannabinoids are CBD and tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC. Every cannabinoid seems to work differently, and research suggests each one has a different effect on the body. Cannabinoids affect various parts of our body, from our skin and digestive system to our brain and heart.
In addition to cannabinoids, there are flavonoids, which affect the flavor and color of the bud, and terpenes, which affect the bud’s aroma and may have beneficial health effects.
The entourage effect is the idea that cannabinoids work better together. In other words, when CBD is in the presence of other cannabinoids, its effect is more potent and more beneficial than when you take each cannabinoid individually. It is also believed that terpenes and flavonoids also add to the entourage effect.
One example of the power of the entourage effect is how CBD tames the effect of THC. THC, which gets you high, can have some side effects. For example, some people find that it makes them anxious. A 2019 study shows that CBD seems to offset some of these side effects, thus “balancing” the not-so-great effects of THC without reducing its benefits.
Another example of the entourage effect in action is Sativex. Sativex is an FDA-approved medication, often used to treat pain in people with multiple sclerosis. Sativex combines CBD and THC, as researchers found that they soothe pain better when they’re used together.
A 2011 study also suggests that, when terpenes and cannabinoids are taken together, they could have a more potent effect in treating:
- Pain and inflammation
- Anxiety and stress
- Epilepsy and other seizure conditions
- Fungal infections
Further research conducted in 2018 found that certain flavonoids and terpenes could have beneficial properties, such as anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective effects. The authors suggested that these compounds, when combined with cannabinoids, could have a more potent and beneficial effect.
With all this in mind, it’s no wonder why so many people opt for full-spectrum CBD. However, it’s important to remember that high doses of THC can show up in a drug test—so be cautious when opting for high-THC products.
What do Other Cannabinoids Do?
You’ve heard of THC and CBD, but what are the other cannabinoids called? And more importantly, what do they do?
Along with CBD, THC is one of the most well-known and well-studied cannabinoids. THC is the part of cannabis that gets you high. But THC might be able to do more than that. Research suggests that it might also have the following properties:
- Anti-pain. Like CBD, THC could be used to treat pain, according to research. Dronabinol has been shown to reduce pain, which is another reason why it can be helpful for HIV/AIDS patients.
- THC might be able to improve sleep quality. A 2017 review of studies notes that some evidence suggests it makes you sleep worse, while other studies suggest THC could treat insomnia.
- PTSD treatment. Since THC reduces the amount of time we spend dreaming, it might be able to help PTSD patients who struggle with nightmares.
- One side effect of cannabis is the “munchies”—THC can make you hungry. Dronabinol, a synthetic version of THC, is an appetite-stimulant given to HIV/AIDS patients who have a low appetite.
- Anti-nausea. THC could reduce chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting. In fact, over 30 studies suggest that synthetic THC can treat CINV.
THC remains an interesting cannabinoid, and there’s a lot we still don’t know about it. It’s still being studied further by researchers. Future research will help us understand the effects of THC better.
CBG is fast gaining popularity, with some calling it “the new CBD”. CBG is the “mother cannabinoid”—every other cannabinoid comes from CBG. It’s also the most expensive cannabinoid to produce.
While the research on CBG is still in its infancy, research has identified quite a few potential benefits of CBG. For example, it may have the following properties:
- A promising 2015 study showed that CBG seemed to protect neurons in mice with Huntington’s disease. The study concluded that CBG should be tested for its potential to treat other neurodegenerative diseases, too.
- Anti-inflammatory. A murine study showed that CBG seemed to reduce the inflammation associated with inflammatory bowel disease.
- Anti-bacterial. Some research suggests that CBG might be able to kill methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA), which causes staph infections.
- Anti-cancer. A 2014 study showed that CBG slowed the growth of colon cancer cells in mice.
- Mood-boosting. Studies suggest that CBG increases the “bliss molecule,” anandamide, which improves your mood. It also might work as a GABA reuptake inhibitor, which can help reduce anxiety.
When THC is exposed to carbon dioxide for a long period of time, it becomes CBN. For this reason, more mature cannabis tends to turn into CBN. There are a number of potential benefits of CBN, although they are mostly conducted on rats and mice, and all need to be studied further.
These potential properties include:
- One lab study suggested that CBN could kill MRSA bacteria, which causes staph infections.
- Anti-inflammatory. A rodent study conducted in 2016 showed that CBN reduced inflammation in rats with arthritis.
- Appetite stimulant. A study suggested that CBN increases the appetite—it made rats eat more food, and eat for a longer period of time.
- Another study conducted on rodents found that CBN delayed the onset of ALS in rats.
There are relatively few studies on CBC. However, the studies that are out there are quite promising. CBC might be able to treat:
- Pain and inflammation. As with most cannabinoids, CBC seems to reduce the pain and inflammation associated with osteoarthritis, according to a 2011 study. Another study showed that CBC and THC together reduces inflammation.
- A 2016 study suggests that CBC could treat acne.
- A 2010 study suggested that, together with THC, CBC might be able to treat depression.
- A 2006 study found that CBC is the second-most-potent cannabinoid at slowing the cancer cells, second to CBG. Unfortunately, this hasn’t been studied in humans.
CBC shows a number of potential benefits, but these all need to be studied further before we fully understand its effects on humans.
While these aren’t the only cannabinoids there are, they’re the most well-studied and possibly the most important. Future studies will probably uncover the importance of many other cannabinoids which could be harnessed to treat certain health conditions.
How to Benefit from the Entourage Effect
One of the simplest ways to benefit from the entourage effect is to look for products that are “full-spectrum.” We have a range of full-spectrum items including but not limited to, full-spectrum CBD tinctures, and a broad-spectrum tincture option for those who don’t want to ingest THC.
Hemp flower is, by definition, full-spectrum. As it’s not processed and the form isn’t changed, we don’t remove any of the natural cannabinoids found in the bud. Our high-quality flowers allow you to make your own potent extracts and concentrates—and, of course, you can smoke them if you prefer.
Full-spectrum CBD doesn’t just come in the form of buds and tinctures. Our edibles and topical CBD, for example, also contain full-spectrum CBD. Experiment with different forms of CBD products until you find a product that you enjoy using.
Understanding the entourage effect can equip you with the knowledge you need to choose the best CBD products for your needs. Remember to speak to your doctor before using CBD to treat any particular ailment.