What is the entourage effect?
The entourage effect explains why cannabis seems to work better therapeutically in combination with other cannabinoids, terpenes, and sometimes even flavonoids.
When scientists try to isolate specific compounds of whole-plant marijuana, they find that these compounds tend not to have the same effect when administered alone, in the ways they do when taken together.
Scientists are starting to believe that this is because whole-plant cannabis contains multiple compounds working synergistically to create an enhanced therapeutic outcome.
It’s probably because each compound works on different receptors within the body, which are all connected.
Whole-plant cannabis therapy is becoming more and more popular due to the entourage effect.
It allows patients to receive a therapeutic benefit with lower doses than if they were getting that same compound through an isolate.
The entourage effect encourages us not to look at individual phytocannabinoids, terpenes, or flavonoids when attempting to understand how marijuana works or its products.
The entourage effect is becoming apparent in the medical community as more people recognize that there are cannabinoids other than THC and CBD within cannabis, each of which has different therapeutic possibilities. Some doctors are even using it to help treat their patients by understanding this effect.
When taken together, all these compounds work together to give the patient a therapeutic outcome that they are likely not able to receive by only taking one combination.
The Entourage Effect is the synergistic benefit of many compounds that are found in marijuana. Below are some examples of cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids that work together to create an enhanced therapeutic outcome:
A terpene found in basil, sage, and wormwood, works with THC to reduce the psychoactive effects of THC while increasing its analgesic effects on the body.
A terpene found in hops and sage has been shown to slow the growth of cancer cells while increasing apoptosis [programmed cell death]
In cannabis, Pinene [a terpene with anti-inflammatory properties] is believed to be a bronchodilator
Beta-Caryophyllene, a terpene found in black pepper and cloves, has been shown to have anti-inflammatory properties. It also reduces the required dosage of pharmaceutical drugs when combined.
In marijuana, Limonene has been used as a mood enhancer and may affect serotonin receptors [an important neurotransmitter]. In one study, it was shown that Limonene could increase the maximum saturation level of the serotonin transporter. It is also an anti-fungal and anti-bacterial
Linalool, a terpene found in lavender, is an antidepressant and sedative. It can also suppress your anxiety.
Camphene, a terpene with antioxidant properties, may have anti-cancer properties.
Caryophyllene oxide, also found in cloves, has analgesic and anti-inflammatory effects. It can also suppress tumors.
Eucalyptol is a terpene with decongestant qualities that may help with bronchitis symptoms. It is known to have antiseptic qualities.
Phytol is a terpene with antioxidant properties. One study showed that it inhibited lipid oxidation and reduced oxidative stress on bone marrow stem cells.
Humulene is one of the most common terpenes found in cannabis. It has anti-inflammatory properties, which effectively treat gastrointestinal problems like irritable bowel syndrome.
Geraniol, a terpene commonly found in citrus fruits and flowers, has antioxidant and neuroprotective properties.
Terpineol is a naturally occurring component in many essential oils. It has been used as a sleep aid for people who have insomnia.
Vanillin is the primary component of vanilla, which is why it smells just like vanilla. Vanillin can help with blood pressure and reduce anxiety.
Beta Myrcene, a terpene found in hops, mangoes, and bay leaves, has anti-inflammatory and pain-reducing properties. It is also effective in treating insomnia by producing a calming effect that will help people fall asleep.
The entourage effect has been seen repeatedly within individual states where cannabis has been legalized for medical use.
For example, in New Mexico, epileptic children were given CBD oil. But when they were given whole-plant medical marijuana, the children experienced a much more significant reduction in seizures.
In another example, Mieko Hester-Perez used CBD oil to treat her two daughters, who both have Dravet syndrome – very severe epilepsy that does not respond well to pharmaceutical treatments – but when she started using whole-plant medical marijuana, their seizures dropped dramatically.
The entourage effect may be one of the most important recent discoveries in the world of medicinal marijuana. It encourages us to look at each cannabinoid and terpenoid when trying to understand how they work in isolation and their combined effect.
Whole-plant cannabis therapy, where the patient uses a combination of cannabinoids and terpenes to get their desired therapeutic effect, is becoming more and more popular. The entourage effect encourages us not to isolate single compounds when trying to understand how they work and what products they might have on the body. Only when we look at these compounds in combination can we achieve an enhanced therapeutic result.
As the marijuana industry is growing exponentially, it’s becoming more apparent that the ancient herb with an abundance of healing compounds has something to offer.
By understanding the entourage effect and the different cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids in cannabis, we’re starting to see how true that is.