The term “entourage effect” has been gaining popularity in cannabis and CBD, but what exactly does it mean?
The cannabis plant is made up of over 100 different cannabinoids. While THC and CBD are the most well-known, many other cannabinoids also have potential health benefits. The entourage effect refers to the idea that these cannabinoids work together with other cannabis compounds, such as terpenes and flavonoids, to produce an enhanced effect than they would on their own.
For example, the terpene myrcene has been shown to boost the effects of THC by increasing its ability to cross the blood-brain barrier, while CBD has been shown to counteract some of the psychoactive effects of THC.
Understanding the entourage effect is critical to unlocking the full potential of cannabis products. Whether you’re a veteran cannabis user or just curious about the science behind it, read on to learn more about the entourage effect, how it works, and why it matters.
What Is the Entourage Effect?
The term entourage effect describes the synergistic interaction between different compounds found in the cannabis plant, such as cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids. These compounds work together to enhance the overall effects of the plant, making it more potent and effective than if each compound was used on its own.
For example, THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is the primary psychoactive compound found in cannabis. It has been shown to have more powerful effects when combined with other cannabinoids like CBD (cannabidiol) and CBN (cannabinol), as well as certain terpenes like myrcene and limonene.
The entourage effect is thought to play a crucial role in the potential benefits of cannabis, as it allows for a more comprehensive and holistic approach to treatment. By leveraging the entourage effect, cannabis products can be formulated to target specific needs more effectively while minimizing unwanted side effects.
Who Discovered the Entourage Effect?
The term “entourage effect” was first coined by Israeli researchers Raphael Mechoulam and Shimon Ben-Shabat in a 1998 paper published in the journal European Neuropsychopharmacology.
The researchers were studying the effects of cannabis compounds on the human body and observed that their interaction produced a more substantial effect than any single compound. They referred to this phenomenon as the “entourage effect” to describe how the various cannabis compounds work together to produce a more significant impact on the body.
It was Dr. Ethan Russo, however, who explored and popularized the term. Dr. Ethan Russo is a prominent cannabis researcher and neurologist who has done extensive work on the entourage effect. He has been a vocal proponent of the idea that cannabis compounds work synergistically to produce more significant effects than any single compound could achieve alone.
In 2011, Dr. Russo published in the British Journal of Pharmacology his seminal paper titled “Taming THC: potential cannabis synergy and phytocannabinoid-terpenoid entourage effects.” This paper expanded on the concept of the entourage effect, highlighting the role of terpenes in modulating the effects of cannabinoids and suggesting that specific terpenes could enhance or reduce the effects of THC.
Dr. Russo’s work has helped to shape our understanding of how cannabis compounds work together to produce potentially therapeutic effects, and his research has been instrumental. His work has also helped identify specific terpenes and cannabinoids that may work together to produce a desired effect and has provided a framework for understanding the complex interactions between cannabis compounds.
As a result of these pioneers’ work, the term “entourage effect” is widely adopted in the cannabis industry and scientific community nowadays.
Which Compounds Are Involved in the Entourage Effect?
The main compounds that are thought to contribute to the entourage effect are phytocannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids. It should be noted, however, that it is a complex phenomenon because of the many compounds involved, and researchers are still working to understand the full extent of their interactions. In the future, we may add more compounds to this list.
Phyto means plant in Greek. Phytocannabinoids are a group of compounds found in the cannabis plant that interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS is a complex network of receptors and enzymes that regulates various physiological processes, including mood, appetite, pain sensation, and immune function.
Cannabinoids are thought to contribute significantly to the entourage effect by interacting with other compounds in the plant, such as terpenes and flavonoids, to produce more significant effects than they would individually. For example, THC has been shown to have more potent analgesic effects when combined with other cannabinoids like CBD and CBN, as well as certain terpenes like myrcene and limonene.
Other cannabinoids, such as CBG (cannabigerol) and CBC (cannabichromene), have also been shown to have potential therapeutic effects, and their interactions with other compounds in the cannabis plant are thought to contribute to the entourage effect.
Terpenes are the aromatic compounds responsible for giving plants their rich aromas. They are believed to enhance the entourage effect by modulating the activity of the endocannabinoid system (ECS) and other molecular targets in the body. They may interact with the ECS in several ways, including:
- Modulating cannabinoid receptors: Some terpenes have been shown to bind to and modulate the activity of cannabinoid receptors such as CB1 and CB2. This can enhance the effects of cannabinoids that bind to these receptors, such as THC and CBD.
- Affecting neurotransmitters: Terpenes may affect the activity of neurotransmitters such as GABA, serotonin, and dopamine, which can impact mood, anxiety, and pain.
- Altering the permeability of cell membranes: Terpenes may alter the permeability of cell membranes, which can affect the absorption and bioavailability of cannabinoids and other compounds.
- Inhibiting enzymes: Some terpenes have been shown to inhibit enzymes that break down cannabinoids. This can increase their bioavailability and enhance their effects.
Much like the entourage effect in general, the specific effects of terpenes are still being studied and are not yet fully understood. However, it is clear that terpenes play an essential role in the potential therapeutic effects of cannabis and contribute to the entourage effect by interacting with other compounds in the plant.
Flavonoids are a group of plant metabolites found in many different plants, including cannabis. Like cannabinoids and terpenes, flavonoids may contribute to the entourage effect by modulating the endocannabinoid system’s activity and other molecular targets in the body.
Flavonoids have been shown to have a wide range of potential therapeutic effects, including anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and neuroprotective properties. The main flavonoids found in cannabis include:
- Quercetin: This flavonoid has been shown to have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and antiviral properties. It may also role in modulating the endocannabinoid system’s activity.
- Cannflavin A and B: These flavonoids are unique to cannabis and have been shown to have potent anti-inflammatory effects. They may also role in modulating the endocannabinoid system’s activity.
- Kaempferol: This flavonoid has been shown to have antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and neuroprotective properties.
- Apigenin: This flavonoid has been shown to have anxiolytic and sedative effects and may also have anti-inflammatory properties.
While the specific mechanisms by which flavonoids contribute to the entourage effect are still being studied, they clearly play an important role in the effects of cannabis. In particular, flavonoids’ anti-inflammatory and neuroprotective properties may help enhance the effects of other compounds in the plant.
Ways to Experience the Entourage Effect
Cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids work together in a complex interplay to produce various effects. Adding to the complexity is the fact that the specific experiences that a person may have when consuming cannabis depend on several external factors. These include the chemical composition of the strain or product, the method of consumption, and the individual’s own physiology and sensitivity to the different compounds.
Among the most common experiences cannabis consumers report is a feeling of euphoria and relaxation. THC is primarily responsible for the psychoactive effects of cannabis, which can produce such feelings. Some terpenes, such as limonene and linalool, have also been shown to have mood-enhancing effects and are commonly used in aromatherapy.
CBD has also been shown to have anxiolytic effects, making it a popular choice for people seeking relief from anxiety. In many cases, people use cannabis to improve their sleep quality. Interestingly, terpenes such as myrcene and terpineol have sedative effects that may also help.
People consuming cannabis also typically report pain relief, which makes sense as CBD and other cannabinoids have been shown to have analgesic effects. In fact, cannabis has been a popular choice for people seeking relief from pain for millennia.
Does the Entourage Effect Amplify the Effects of Cannabis?
The entourage effect is a complex and multifaceted phenomenon. While it may sound like it always amplifies the effects of each compound in cannabis, this is not necessarily always the case. Instead, the entourage effect enhances the overall effect of the plant by promoting a synergistic interaction between its different compounds.
For example, while CBD has been shown to have analgesic effects on its own, the presence of other cannabinoids and terpenes can enhance its overall analgesic effect. In this case, the effect is enhanced. Conversely, while THC is primarily responsible for the psychoactive effects of cannabis, the presence of other compounds can modulate or mitigate its psychoactivity. In the case of THC, the effects are lessened.
Other Ways to Boost the Entourage Effect
There are several different ways that you can potentially boost the entourage effect when consuming cannabis.
Means of Consumption
The way you consume cannabis plays a significant part in determining the strength of the entourage effect.
Heating cannabis, for example, can promote the decarboxylation of THCA and CBDA into their active forms, THC and CBD, respectively. This can increase the potency of the product and enhance the entourage effect. In addition, vaporizing cannabis can promote the release of volatile terpenes, improving the entourage effect by increasing the bioavailability and potency of the different compounds.
Tinctures, on the other hand, may have a different way of promoting the entourage effect. Tinctures are liquid extracts produced by soaking cannabis in alcohol or oil. Their production process typically extracts a wide range of compounds, including cannabinoids and terpenes, which may also promote the entourage effect.
Finally, the dosage is also of paramount importance. Microdosing, for instance, involves consuming minimal amounts of cannabis. This may help consumers avoid overwhelming psychoactive effects while promoting the entourage effect. Microdosing is typically used by people sensitive to THC or who want to maximize the plant’s therapeutic effects while minimizing unwanted side effects.
It’s important to note that everyone’s experience with cannabis is unique and that the entourage effect may vary depending on factors such as the individual’s physiology, the chemical composition of the product, and the method of consumption. By experimenting with different strains, products, and consumption methods, you can potentially enhance the entourage effect and achieve a more personalized and practical cannabis experience.
Check out our range of products and talk to our budtenders for suggestions on the right cannabis product, depending on your needs and desires.
Besides the means of consumption, your product will determine how much of an entourage effect you will experience. CBD isolate, for example, contains nothing but CBD. There will be no entourage effect when consuming it.
To maximize the entourage effect, you can start by choosing full-spectrum cannabis products. Unlike isolated compounds, these contain the broadest possible range of cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids. This diverse and complex chemical profile may enhance the entourage effect.
In addition, different strains of cannabis can have other chemical profiles, which can also affect the entourage effect. Try experimenting with other strains to see which ones work best for you.
The quality of the cannabis you consume is another important factor. Products that have been tested for potency and purity typically display a more substantial entourage effect.
Another way to maximize the effect is by combining different cannabis products, such as smoking flowers and using a topical or tincture. This can help promote the entourage effect by increasing the diversity of compounds you consume.
Finally, consider incorporating other herbs and supplements. Some herbs and supplements rich in terpenes, such as black pepper and caryophyllene, have been shown to enhance the effects of cannabis by promoting the entourage effect. Consider incorporating these into your routine to see if they make a difference.
When experimenting, try to use a consistent dosing method. When you use the same dosing method and amount each time you consume cannabis, you can better understand what effect different strains and products have on you.
Maximize the Entourage Effect with Quality Cannabis Products
Cannabis is a complex plant containing hundreds of compounds, including cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids. These compounds work together synergistically, producing various effects on the body and mind.
Understanding the fascinating world of the entourage effect is crucial for anyone who wants to use cannabis, whether a cannabis enthusiast or a curious newcomer. So, talk to our budtenders when you buy your Colorado marijuana at Mountain Annie’s and ask them about the latest products you can try and how they may produce the entourage effect. Visit one of our four Colorado dispensaries, Ridgway, Silverton, Durango, and Cortez, or shop our specials online and discover your new favorite strain at one of our shops!
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