What is the “Entourage Effect”?
Cannabis contains over 113 cannabinoids, over 200 terpenes, and hundreds of other chemical compounds.
These compounds work together to produce a synergistic effect known as the “entourage effect”.
The entourage effect refers to the combined effect of the cannabinoids, terpenes, and other chemical compounds in marijuana. These compounds work together to produce an effect that is greater than the sum of their parts.
The phrase entourage effect was introduced in 1998 by S. Ben-Shabat, and by Raphael Mechoulam, to represent a novel endogenous cannabinoid molecular regulation route. The phrase refers to the compounds present in cannabis supposedly working in concert to create “the sum of all the parts that leads to the magic or power of cannabis”, according to Chris Emerson. Other cannabinoids’, terpenoids’, and flavonoids’ contribution to clinical cannabis effects has been espoused as an “entourage effect”.
The entourage effect is considered a cannabinoid system modulator and is achieved in pain management through increasing receptors affinity to enhance endogenous anandamide activity and/or reducing enzymatic anandamide degradation.
The term entourage effect refers to a concept and proposed mechanism by which compounds present in cannabis which are largely non-psychoactive by themselves modulate the overall psychoactive effects of the plant (these resulting principally from the action of the main psychoactive component of cannabis, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)).
Cannabidiol (CBD) is believed to be the major modulatory component of cannabis, mitigating some of the negative, psychosis-like effects of THC, and is included in some medicinal formulations alongside THC. CBD co-administration also reduces the negative effects of THC on memory. Myrcene, which is recognized as a sedative component in hops, may be responsible for the sedative effects (“couch lock”) of certain cannabis strains (sedative effects are commonly ascribed to the indica cannabis type). Linalool may also contribute to the entourage effect, modulating the glutamate and GABA neurotransmitter systems to produce sedative and anxiolytic effects.
A 1981 study found that whole plant extracts produced 330% more activity than THC alone. The researchers hypothesized that cannabis contains “synergist” and “inhibitor” compounds.
Since then, scientists have determined that cannabinoids and terpenes are responsible for these effects. For example, cannabinoids such as CBD can subdue the negative effects of THC, while boosting its benefits.
Terpenes are scented compounds found in marijuana that are also thought to play a role in the entourage effect.
Many people take this as evidence that “whole plant medicine” is superior to extracts which focus on one or two compounds.
“Whole plant medicine” is a term used to describe medicines utilizing the full spectrum of therapeutic compounds cannabis has to offer.
Though the idea of the entourage effect has taken root in the cannabis industry and among consumers, the concept is often based on conjecture and anecdotal evidence as rigorous scientific underpinning is lacking.
To sum up, if you are wanting to use medical cannabis, cannabis oil, CBD oil or cannabis tinctures etc. you should opt for “whole plant medicine” ie. products which use the whole Cannabis plant rather than for instance isolated CBD oil made from just Cannabis Hemp varieties.