The Entourage Effect

The Entourage Effect

Nature is a dance – something that ancient mystics have known for thousands of years. For every yin, there is a yang: light and dark, fullness and emptiness, space and matter, electrons and protons.

The same is true in the CBD world. Phytochemicals in cannabis appear to work synergically, each bouncing off the other – something scientists dub, “the entourage effect.”

In this post, we discuss this effect in more detail, what it is, and why it matters for cannabis users. Read on to learn more.

What Is The Entourage Effect?

Cannabis may contain over 1,000 individual compounds. And many of them – perhaps up to twenty – interact with your body’s endocannabinoid system, producing effects on your wellbeing.

The two most abundant and well-researched endocannabinoids in cannabis are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). When you smoke regular cannabis, these compounds enter your body in high concentrations, producing a range of effects. CBD, for instance, helps to bring the body’s nervous system back into balance, restoring what scientists call “homeostasis,” helping people to feel normal again. By contrast, THC produces feelings of euphoria by disrupting the body’s regular endocannabinoid signally.

In the past, researchers studied both of these molecules independently from each other, cataloging their effects separately. They concluded that THC was psychoactive and CBD wasn’t.

However, as science has progressed, it’s become clear that taking compounds from the cannabis plant together – including some of the terpenes – is more effective than consuming them individually.

The entourage effect is simply the name that researchers give to this synergistic activity. It is the observation that cannabis compounds seem to work better taken together than separately.

Studies That Suggest The Existence Of The Entourage Effect

There are several studies suggesting that the entourage effect for cannabis consumption is real.

For instance, research from 2018 found that taking terpenes and flavanoids in the cannabis plant together improved brain health in study participants. Anti-inflammatory agents in the leaf seem to douse the immune system, offering neuroprotection.

Evidence also supports the idea that CBD consumption may counteract some of the negative effects of THC. Many undesirable side effects of cannabis use, such as anxiety and paranoia appear lessened when users take CBD at the same time.

Lastly, literature reviews point to the idea that taking cannabinoids alongside terpenes may be better than isolating the cannabinoids from the rest of the plant. For instance, a British Journal of Pharmacology study noted that taking both types of compounds in tandem could be beneficial for a range of conditions, including pain, epilepsy, cancer and fungal infections.

What Is The Optimal CBD To THC Ratio?

Naturally, many cannabis users want to know what the optimal CBD to THC ratio is. Unfortunately, no such data exists yet. Furthermore, the actual best ratio for you will depend heavily on your needs. A person using cannabis to manage pain, for instance, may require a radically different cannabinoid profile from a person using it to control epilepsy.

If you’re just beginning to experiment with the THC-CBD entourage effect, start out on low doses. Aim to get 5 mg of THC per 5 to 15 mg CBD. Experiment with a 1:1-3 ratio.

You may also find that you need to juggle the timing around. For instance, some people find that taking both compounds together yields the best results, while others prefer to take them at different times of the day. Usually, consumption of CBD follows THC because of its agonistic effect.

Many people don’t want to take THC because of its psychoactive properties even if the entourage effect is real – and that’s understandable. But does CBD work when taken alone?

Fortunately, there’s still plenty of research to suggest that it does. So even if you take a CBD isolate product, you’re not necessarily eliminating the possibility of improving wellness.

If you’re worried, you can take a full-spectrum CBD. These have less than 0.2 percent THC but they contain a range of other cannabinoids and terpenes extracted from hemp. Hence, by taking full-spectrum CBD, you may be able to access some of the other entourage effects we discussed above. (Full-spectrum CBD Can only be purchased in 0.5G Quantities legally in the UK based on the 1mg of THC per finished/packaged product rule)

More About Cannabinoids

As we noted earlier in this blog, there are many cannabinoids in cannabis, not just the most well-known ones THC and CBD. To better understand how cannabis works on the body as a whole, it seems wise to spend a little time looking at the other less commonly known ones.

There are 8 major cannabinoids in cannabis, which actually form after a process called decarboxylation occurs, whereby cannabinoid acids become the corresponding cannabinoids in the list below:

  • CBG (Cannabigerol)
  • THC9–tetrahydrocannabinol)
  • CBD (Cannabidiol)
  • CBC (Cannabichromene)
  • CBGV (Cannabigerivarin)
  • THCV (Tetrahydrocannabivarin)
  • CBDV (Cannabidivarin)
  • CBCV (Cannabichromevarin)

More research is still very much desired and required to further understand the lesser known cannabinoids, as their true effects and potential are largely mysterious at this stage. Aside from THC and CBD, the cannabis community is desperate to find out more about these other major cannabinoids and what their functions are.

Let’s first take a look at THCV. As we’ve already covered, THC is the cannabinoid known for getting you ‘high’, though there is some research that seems to indicate that the cannabinoid THCV may also be somewhat intoxicating. It is not typically at all prominent in most strains or other cannabis products.

What is interesting about THCV is that it has been seen to have some sort of influence over the effects of THC on the user. In smaller doses, THCV also seems to reduce the ability of THC to activate the CB1 receptors, but in higher doses activation seems more likely. The point here is that how you experience the effects of a cannabinoid largely depends on the exact dosage and how much of each compound is present in that particular strain or product.

Another fascinating cannabinoid is cannabinol (CBN). What is interesting about CBD is that it is actually a result of THC breaking down. What do we mean by this? A good example to highlight this process is that of when cannabis buds/flowers are not stored properly and get a little old, the exposure to oxygen over time causes the THC in the cannabis to slowly turn into CBN.

In terms of effects, research has shown that CBN, when paired with THC, seems to have a more sedative effect, as well as other properties including being anti-convulsant and anti-inflammatory, and also functioning as an antibiotic. Despite this apparent positive potential, there is still a huge gap in the research regarding it.

A lesser-known cannabinoid that is not on the list above is cannabigerol

(CBG). It is thought of as a minor cannabinoid as it generally doesn’t appear in cannabis in levels higher than 1%. Breeders have begun to experiment more with plants to create higher levels of CBG due to its promising medical potential to help with a range of problems, including glaucoma, inflammatory bowel disease, skin infections, cachexia, bladder dysfunction, and depression. Scientists are currently excited about looking further into CBG, and how it changes in combination with varying levels of other cannabinoids, and understanding more about its potential as a treatment.

The Bottom Line

From the evidence, it appears that taking multiple compounds from the cannabis plant together can enhance their individual effects. However, even if you choose to take isolates, there is still plenty of research supporting their benefits.

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