What is the CBD Entourage Effect?

Entourage Effect in CBD and Cannabis: What Does It Mean?


Cannabis plants are said to have more than 100 different phytocannabinoids. These phytocannabinoids are naturally occurring cannabinoids that can be found in cannabis plants. As these phytocannabinoids enter one’s body, they act on the receptors found in the endocannabinoid system which, in return, will help in keeping your body in balance. 

Cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are the two most popular phytocannabinoids; they occur in the highest concentrations in cannabis — and are responsible for its psychological and physical effects. 

There’s an ongoing debate on which is better — THC or CBD? But, recent studies suggest that these two cannabinoids work in tandem to amplify their positive effects while mitigating their unwanted side effects.

This phenomenon is known as the entourage effect — it’s the reason why whole-plant products are considered superior to isolates.

Here’s what you need to know.

What is the Entourage Effect?

The Entourage Effect refers to the theory that when all of the compounds in cannabis plants work together, they can produce better effects than when taken separately. 

Cannabinoids and terpenes can contribute to different effects, aromas, and flavors of cannabis. That’s why different cannabis strains have different recommended uses.

The advocates of the entourage effect believe that it can create new features that may not be present in isolated THC or CBD. In addition, there is a possibility that the medicinal effects may be altered or enhanced when multiple cannabis compounds are combined together.

How does this work? The entourage effect can help in enhancing the health benefits of cannabinoids like CBD and THC. It can be through amplifying their effects or expanding the options on how to use them for different health needs.

The entourage effect does not only occur between THC and CBD, as there are more different kinds of cannabinoids found in the plant with unique properties. CBD may be the most popular cannabinoid that is used for health and wellness but its benefits can be boosted through the support of other cannabinoids.

Applicable Examples of the Entourage Effect in CBD Oil

Hemp Plants in Hemp Field

Now that you’re familiar with the entourage effect,  let’s take a look at what science has to say about this intriguing phenomenon.

A 2018 meta-analysis showed that 71% of the patients reported that they felt more improvement when they used CBD extracts mixed with other cannabinoids and terpenes. Only 46% reported similar effects with pure CBD.

The study adds that one of its notable observations is the difference in the average daily dose between pure CBD and plant-based CBD. It was revealed that the average daily dose of plant-based CBD is four times lower than the average daily dose of pure CBD. This means that the CBD extract mixed with other cannabinoids is four times more powerful than pure CBD.

There is also a review of studies in 2011 published in the British Journal of Pharmacology, which explored another phytotherapeutic agent in cannabis — terpenes. 

Terpenes not only add unique aromas and flavors to the plant, but they also work synergistically with cannabinoids to leverage the entourage effect. They can alleviate physical discomfort, help with mental distress, and improve general well-being.

Earlier in the article, we mentioned that cannabinoids can also mitigate the side effects of one another. The same 2011 review showed that CBD helped in reducing some side effects of  THC, including anxiety, sedation, and hunger.

Terpenes and Flavonoids Can Support Brain Health and Beyond

In terms of the entourage effect, it is believed that the terpenes can also help in increasing the effectiveness of phytocannabinoids. But what exactly are terpenes?

Terpenes refer to essential oils that have unique aromas and flavors present in almost every plant on earth. In other words, what you can smell from a plant is due to its terpenes. 

When it comes to cannabis plants, their characteristics are often determined according to the concentration of terpenes found in them. Studies suggest that terpenes have  a wide range of health benefits including the physical and mental health

There’s also a group of phytonutrients that can be found in a wide array of fruits, flowers, vegetables, and even cannabis and hemp plant called flavonoids. Its primary purpose is to act as cell messengers and to give pigment to the plants. When it comes to hemp and cannabis, their primary flavonoids are called cannaflavins.

A 2011 review states that there is an increase of interest in studying flavonoids due to their health benefits reported by some epidemiological studies [1]. It further suggests that flavonoids possess numerous beneficial properties such as: anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and neuroprotective.

Another research suggests that CBD combined with certain phytochemicals such as terpenes and flavonoids has potential benefits for brain health. They showed pro-cognitive, neuroprotective, and anti-inflammatory effects in cerebral ischemia and neurodegenerative disorders.

Full-spectrum CBD vs. Isolate: Which Is Better?

Two Bottles of CBD Oil With Hemp Leaves

The entourage effect occurs in full-spectrum CBD products. Full-spectrum CBD contains all of the naturally occurring cannabinoids, terpenes, and trace amounts of THC (0.3% or less). 

CBD isolate is just pure CBD that has been separated from other cannabis compounds. It provides the highest concentration of CBD per serving but it also lacks the entourage effect. For that reason, full-spectrum CBD oil remains the preferred format.

When it comes to the health benefits of CBD oil, full-spectrum products will provide more pronounced effects. Isolates, in turn, are better for people who are allergic to certain compounds from hemp, or for those who don’t want to fail a drug test after consuming full-spectrum CBD.

You can still reap the benefits from CBD pure isolate, but they won’t be as potent as with full-spectrum CBD oil. 

Learn More: Different Types of CBD Spectrum

Final Thoughts on the Entourage Effect

THC and CBD have many health benefits on their own. However, recent studies say their efficacy may increase when you take them together instead of using isolates.

The entourage effect means that you need less CBD to achieve the desired results because the cannabinoid is supported by other compounds from hemp, such as adjunctive cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids.

By using different ratios of the aforementioned phytochemicals, you can personalize your experience with CBD oil on top of receiving better results from your supplementation.

Although clinical trials are yet to determine the prevalence of the entourage effect in cannabis on large populations, current evidence makes it hard to deny that this phenomenon exists.

Do you believe in the entourage effect? Let us know by leaving a comment!

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