When it comes to CBD and many other hemp derived THC products like Delta 8 and Delta 9 you often hear a lot of different terms, one of those popular terms is the Entourage Effect. This term refers to the concept of how a group of things can work together as a whole to offer greater benefits than each of those things working alone. In the world of cannabis or hemp derived cannabinoids the entourage effect is often thrown around, but what exactly is the Entourage Effect and why does it matter?
Scientists have found that when you combine different compounds of the cannabis plant, you may get more benefits than if you were to take each of these compounds on their own. This simple concept is what is referred to as the entourage effect. Since hemp is from the cannabis plant this also applies to many of the hemp derived THC products such as Delta 8, Delta 9, HHC, and THC-O. The cannabis plant contains hundreds of different compounds, each of which provide their own unique set of benefits. These compounds work to affect our endocannabinoid system (ECS) in different ways.
To best understand the Entourage Effect theory, it is helpful to first look at the various different compounds that make up the cannabis plant. Cannabinoids and Terpenes are the main components that are responsible for the entourage effect. These compounds influence everything about how the plant works. Everything ranging from the health benefits of cannabis and how it interacts with the human mind and body. They even effect the taste and smell.
What are Cannabinoids?
There are well over 100 compounds found in the cannabis plant to date. These compounds are called cannabinoids. These cannabinoids interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system and influence a variety of physiological and cognitive processes. Depending on an individual’s health needs and goals, these different cannabinoids can offer benefits to managing different symptoms. Two of the most well-known cannabinoids include Cannabidiol (CBD) and Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). These two powerhouse cannabinoids are both found naturally in the cannabis plant and make up a majority of the plant. These two are not alone however, there are many other cannabinoids. These other cannabinoids are considered minor cannabinoids, which are found in much smaller amounts, yet each have very promising and potent benefits. Some of these minor cannabinoids include CBG, CBC, CBN, THCV, & THC-A.
What are Terpenes?
Terpenes are naturally occurring chemical compounds that can be found in both plants and some animals. They are present all around us. In the context of cannabis and hemp, they are responsible for the aromas and flavors, and even the color of the plant. Terpenes are what make certain strains smell or taste different from others. They are also now thought to go beyond that and provide a synergistic effect alongside different cannabinoids to boost their beneficial properties ranging from therapeutic to mood-altering effects. Altogether there are over 150 different types of terpenes, most of which are only present in very small trace amounts. The more prominent terpenes are what work together to give each strain it’s distinct and unique characteristics.
Where are Terpenes Found?
Terpenes are found in the trichomes of the female cannabis plant. These trichomes are sticky, translucent glands that cover the surface of the buds. They are also present on the leaves and stems but in much smaller amounts. These trichomes contain the resin glands that produce terpenes. Cultivators have become aware that some of these terpenes are volatile chemicals meaning they can become damaged during the normal cultivation process relatively easily and their benefits lost. The awareness of the therapeutic value of these terpenes has led some to look to more sensitive cultivation processes and extraction methods. Some of these methods include live resin as well as live rosin. These processes take the entire cannabis or hemp plant and flash freeze it immediately after harvesting to protect these volatile compounds resulting in a more aromatic and flavorful hemp experience.
Does the Extraction Process Matter?
You have probably heard about or even seen different terminology used such as isolate, full-spectrum, and broad spectrum. Well, what exactly do these terms mean and how do they relate to the entourage effect? Let’s define each of these so we can better understand how each of these extraction methods matter.
Hemp isolate is a purified extract that contains only one single cannabinoid. Products that contain one isolated cannabinoid will have gone through a process to remove other ingredients therefore purifying it into a concentrated form. The active ingredients of a specific cannabinoid are then left in a concentration of upwards of 98% - 100% purity.
Full spectrum hemp oil contains all of the naturally found compounds that are found in the hemp plant to include CBD and THC along with more than 100 different cannabinoids with a large array of terpenes and flavonoids.
Broad spectrum usually refers to CBD products. This means that this hemp oil will contain various compounds found in the hemp plant to include different cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids. Most broad-spectrum products will contain NO THC, however.
Combining Cannabinoids, CBD and THC
When both CBD and THC (the two primary components of cannabis) are mixed together they enhance the efficiency of one another. CBD has counter psychoactive properties, and when combined with THC can lower side effects that can be associated with it, such as anxiety and paranoia. This effect can be further tailored based on the ratio these two compounds are combined in. For example, when CBD and THC are combined in a ratio of 1:1, the psychoactive high will be reduced noticeably. A ratio of even higher CBD to THC such as a 2:1 ratio will most likely make the psychoactive effects disappear altogether for most. By using the entourage effect, users are able to choose different combinations of cannabinoids to shift the advantages and effects of these combinations in their favor depending on their intended purpose or use. By choosing the correct ratio users are often able to find relief for a specific issue they may be suffering from. Even though CBD and THC are the main two cannabis compounds that steal the spotlight. As mentioned earlier, there are a large number of other cannabinoids present in hemp, although in much smaller amounts. The mainstream media doesn’t make much mention of these other cannabinoids such as CBG, CBN, and THCv. Although less popular, these cannabinoids also show many interesting health properties, and the entourage effect most likely applies to them just as it does CBD and THC.
Not only do cannabinoids work together to increase the efficiency of each other. There are also other compounds that join in to boost the benefits of THC. These compounds are called Terpenes and Terpenoids. They have been shown to provide unique therapeutic effects. Both Terpenes and Terpenoids were originally thought to only influence and enhance the taste and smell of cannabis, but we now know that is not the case. Research shows that they boost the properties of cannabinoids like CBG, THC, CBD, along with others.
The History of the Entourage Effect Theory
Those who support the theory of the Entourage Effect are not only interested in the effects of individual cannabinoids but also the effects of these compounds when combined with each other. This concept is heavily weighed on the belief that consuming whole-plant marijuana or hemp will produce a different effect than when compared to consuming individual or isolated cannabinoids or terpenes. The entourage effect was originally coined by Mechoulam and Shimon Ben-Shabat during a study from 1999 which focused its efforts on explaining the phenomenon of why botanical drugs, to include the entire spectrum of compounds within a plant, can sometimes be more effective than isolated components of a plant. Aside from CBD and THC, making a final determination on whether or not the full combination of these compounds makes a difference when consumed as a whole plant is hard due to the fact that many of these minor cannabinoids and terpenes are present in such small amounts compared to CBD and THC. None the less, since CBD and THC are found in the highest percentages in most hemp and marijuana strains, the interaction of these two cannabinoids does make for a strong argument in favor of the entourage effect.
Why Does the Entourage Effect Matter?
We often suggest to our customers to try out each individual cannabinoid on its own first so that you can get a true understanding of how your body reacts to that specific cannabinoid. We find this is a good idea simply because you’ll know which cannabinoids work well with you and your goals. Whether that is to reduce stress, get a better quality of sleep, or even increase your muscle recovery. After you’ve made that determination, we then suggest trying multiple products that contain blends of different cannabinoids. We personally find that these blended products work very well for ourselves and our goals, and a lot of our customers express having the same experiences.
Which Cannabinoid Should I Try First?
You may find yourself wondering “Which cannabinoids should I try first?” That’s a very common question, we suggest starting off with trying Delta 8 (if it’s legal in your area). Delta 8 is a great option to start with since it will give users a good baseline experience to base other products off of. This experience gives you a pretty good idea and understanding if you need or desire something a bit stronger. You can then progress from there. Another product we would suggest trying would be HHC, which is more of a Sativa in its effect, which will give a slightly different experience than Delta 8. Users find this is more of an uplifting and energizing effect with a boost in creativity when compared to Delta 8, which promotes more of a relaxing and euphoric experience. We suggest starting off with these two cannabinoids first before progressing to more potent cannabinoids such as THCO or Delta 9, or Delta 9o.
No matter if you land on one specific cannabinoid that you love or you end up trying and really enjoying a blend of multiple cannabinoid it’s a good idea to have a game plan for when your body adapts to what you decide to take. We’ve discussed this before, but your body does build up a tolerance to most things. Most find that their body builds a tolerance to Delta 8 in particular rather quickly. A strategy we found very effective for ourselves, and our customers is to have a handful of cannabinoids that you know work well for you and as you build a tolerance to one go ahead and switch to another while you are taking a break from the other. This allows you to enjoy the benefits of these cannabinoid yet still giving your body a break from each one individually to allow them to continue working for you.
Otherwise, you may find yourself taking more and more of your favorite cannabinoid in order to get the same effects that you were once seeing from taking much less. This not only gets more expensive, but it compounds the issue and the fact that now you’re taking much larger amounts regularly.
Conclusion, Is the Entourage Effect Real?
As we discussed, that really is still up for debate but looking at the interaction of CBD and THC alone, does show us that the theory does seem to hold some truth. As science continues to advance and further research is done there will only be more and more discoveries found and questions answered. It is tough to debate that fact that many of these wonderful compounds found in both the cannabis and hemp plant hold so much value. Whether or not you should try using these cannabinoids in conjunction with each other is really up to you. Regardless of the debate on if the Entourage Effect is real, it is safe to say that the topic of the Entourage Effect is here to stay.
No matter what you choose to try out, be sure that you are getting high quality hemp-derived products from top tier brands. Reputable brands will openly support their products by full panel third party lab testing. We offer a large variety of both isolate and full spectrum hemp-derived products from gummies, vapes, tinctures, and pre-rolls so that you have plenty of options to choose from, all of which have lab tests to confirm their quality and safety.