The Entourage Effect: how CBD and THC relate

Cannabis plants contain more than 120 different phytocannabinoids that work in different ways to keep the body in balance. Cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabidiol (THC) are the most popular, both in research and in the form of consumption, separately or together.

At the molecular level, there are many phenomena that occur in the cannabis plant - far beyond what we perceive at first glance, and certainly more complex than we already know and understand about.  

When the individual components present in cannabis are isolated, they do not have as much strength or effectiveness as when combined. This "teamwork" is greater than the sum of all the separate parts, so the term "entourage" is given, which means a group of people surrounding and supporting another main individual.

What is the Entourage Effect?

Although CBD and THC are used mostly in separate ways, there are studies that suggest that combined consumption - together with other smaller compounds found in the cannabis plant - is more effective than used separately. Known as the Entourage Effect, this theory assumes that all cannabis compounds work together and, when consumed together, produce a more effective result than if used alone.

A study released in 1981 brought to light some of the first evidence that confirmed the existence of the Entourage Effect. The study demonstrated that extracts of whole plants from the cannabis plant produced 330% more activity when compared to THC in isolation. The scientists in this study pointed to the hypothesis that in the composition of this plant there were “inhibitory” and “synergistic” compounds.

Many people who work closely with cannabis believe that the Entourage Effect can dramatically increase the medicinal usefulness of THC and CBD, that is, it can expand its known effects or expand its menu of therapeutic activities. 

Although there is a lot of talk about the Entourage Effect, it is important to know that it has a lot to do with the therapeutic qualities of the cannabis plant and, interestingly, also with the unique chemical compounds responsible for the smells and flavors of this plant. Some of the most attractive qualities of the cannabis plant are the aromas and flavors that we encounter during the consumption experience and those responsible for these sensations are the so-called terpenes.

herb, hemp, plant

The action of terpenes

Terpenes, in addition to providing flavor and aroma, also help other cannabis molecules in the production of physiological and brain effects, not to mention other secondary and phytochemical metabolites, resulting from the synergy between cannabinoids and terpenes. In this way, the result of this combination is called the Entourage Effect, and it is the reason why terpenes have proved to be such a fundamental piece in the cannabis puzzle.

Although there is still a wide margin at the scientific level to really understand how terpenes enhance the other benefits of the cannabis plant, these compounds are often added to cannabis products. This action allows the production of new and different combinations of flavors, enhancing the natural perfume and flavor profiles of a variety or to replace the terpenes that may have been lost during the process of extracting the plant.

What are the benefits of the Entourage Effect?

You should be asking yourself at the moment which cannabis products are most likely to promote the Entourage Effect. The cannabis flower is the one that contains a wide variety of cannabinoids and terpenes because it is a natural plant-based product. But some cannabis extracts also offer a rich diversity of cannabinoids and terpenes: oils, capsules for ingestion and steam cartridges are some of the existing forms.

It is important to say that not all cannabis extracts store a wide variety of compounds produced by the plant. Some are refined as a means of removing THC - called broad-spectrum cannabis extracts - or formulated to contain a single compound, usually CBD or THC - called isolates.

A review of a study published in the British Journal of Pharmacology points to interesting data on the Entourage Effect, obtained in conjunction with various conditions. Among the additional therapeutic benefits of using phytocannabinoids and terpenes together, there are positive results for:

  • Ache;
  • Anxiety;
  • Inflammations;
  • Epilepsy;
  • Cancer;
  • Yeast infection.

During these researches, the results obtained after tests on humans and rats point to the role of CBD as a way to reduce the undesirable side effects of using THC, such as anxiety, hunger and sedation. Another study, published in 2018, revealed that compounds such as terpenes and flavonoids that make up the cannabis plant, through their neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory effects, can improve the therapeutic potential of CBD.

A greater volume of research is still necessary in order to arrive at a satisfactory result on the Entourage Effect, which, for the time being, is a theory with a well-founded basis. This does not necessarily mean that the effects of the combination between CBD and THC do not exist, but it is important to remember that you should always consult your doctor to find out the best combination, doses and ways to consume any type of product derived from cannabis. It is essential to follow this recommendation, since these products affect people differently and there are different goals for use.

On our website, it is possible to find the most appropriate CBD-based products for each individual's needs. Among the various reference products, we highlight the products for muscle recovery and aching joints:

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