CBD & The Human Body
Science & Health
The Hot Topic- Entourage Effect
You might have heard the phrase “entourage effect” tossed around in relation to CBD. In this article, you will learn exactly what that means and why it matters when deciding which type of CBD product to choose.
You’ve probably heard the word entourage and know its everyday meaning as “a group of people surrounding an important person.”
In the case of the cannabis plant, the ‘entourage’ refers to all of the other compounds present in addition to the CBD. The ‘entourage effect’ is the idea that synergy may exist between CBD and other components of cannabis resin to deliver potential benefits. So, the entourage effect is basically another way of explaining the old adage often attributed to Aristotle that “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”
The Multiplier Effect
So what is this potentially synergistic effect between CBD and its fellow compounds?
You will need to understand a little bit about the composition of the cannabis plant first. CBD and its more famous twin, THC, are cannabinoids. Phytocannabinoids are the chemical compounds naturally present in the cannabis plant that can be found nowhere else in nature.
However, there are many more Phytocannabinoids other than CBD (Cannabidiol) and THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) including CBN, CBC, and THCA. On top of cannabinoids, the plant contains other types of compounds, which include vitamins, minerals, enzymes, and fatty acids, as well as substances called flavonoids and terpenes.
Many believe that some of the potential benefits of CBD are enhanced by the presence of these additional substances alongside CBD in comparison to isolated CBD.
Key Compounds Creating the Entourage Effect
Flavonoids are a group of chemical compounds commonly found in plants, fruits, and vegetables. They are responsible for the bright colors of fruit and veg and according to an article published in the Journal of Nutritional Science “are now considered as an indispensable component in a variety of nutraceutical, pharmaceutical, medicinal and cosmetic applications. This is attributed to their anti-oxidative, anti-inflammatory, anti-mutagenic and anti-carcinogenic properties coupled with their capacity to modulate key cellular enzyme function.”1
Flavonoids play a big role in the entourage effect. According to the theory, they act in synergy with cannabidiol to deliver potential health benefits.
Terpenes are aromatic organic compounds produced by a variety of plants including pine, lavender, lemongrass, black pepper, cloves, cinnamon, mint, mangos, and nutmeg. Terpenes are also to thank for that most unique smell of marijuana.
Like flavonoids, some terpenes are also credited with offering health and therapeutic benefits to humans. These include anti-inflammatory2, anti-anxiety3, anti-depressant4, sedative, and antibacterial properties5.
All Together Now
Now, where it really starts to get interesting is the idea of synergy between these flavonoids, terpenes, and the other compounds and CBD. An accumulating body of evidence indicates that the medical effects of cannabis may be more effective when the plant is in its whole or natural state.
In an article published in Frontiers in Plant Science, a peer-reviewed scientific journal covering botany, the author writes: “the case for Cannabis synergy via the “entourage effect” is currently sufficiently strong as to suggest that one molecule is unlikely to match the therapeutic and even industrial potential of Cannabis itself as a phytochemical factory.”6
The entourage effect is what may actually be responsible for some of the therapeutic effects of the cannabis plant as it relates to pain, headaches and migraines, and even opioid detoxification, according to an article published in the medical journal, Headache. It states, “There are many cannabis strains that vary widely in the composition of cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, and other compounds. These components work synergistically to produce wide variations in benefits, side effects, and strain characteristics. Knowledge of the individual medicinal properties of the cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids is necessary to cross-breed strains to obtain optimal standardized synergistic compositions. This will enable targeting individual symptoms and/or diseases, including migraine, headache, and pain.”7
According to an article published in the British Journal of Pharmacology, a biweekly peer-reviewed medical journal covering all aspects of experimental pharmacology, “Phytocannabinoid-terpenoid interactions that could produce synergy with respect to the treatment of pain, inflammation, depression, anxiety, addiction, epilepsy, cancer, fungal and bacterial infections.”8
Types of CBD Products
Because of the potential benefits of the entourage effect, then, it’s important to differentiate between the two types of CBD-based products on the market. Those formulations containing both CBD and an entourage of compounds are usually called “broad-spectrum” or “full plant extracts” or “whole-plant extracts.” The class of products containing only CBD is usually referred to as “CBD isolates.”
Phytocannabinoid-rich, broad-spectrum CBD oil contains a host of cannabinoids, flavonoids, and terpenes in addition to many other types of potentially beneficial compounds found in the whole plant.
So, when choosing a product, remember, “CBD only” formulations may not offer the full potential benefits of the entourage effect since they contain only isolated CBD in its pure form.
- Panche AN, Diwan AD, Chandra SR. J Nutr Sci. 2016 Dec 29;5:e47. doi: 10.1017/jns.2016.41. PubMed PMID: 28620474; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5465813.
- Gallily R, Yekhtin Z, Hanuš LO.. 2018 Dec 26;3(1):282-290. doi: 10.1089/can.2018.0014. PubMed PMID: 30596146; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC6308289.
- Kamal BS, Kamal F, Lantela DE. Front Neurosci. 2018 Oct 22;12:730. doi: 10.3389/fnins.2018.00730. PubMed PMID: 30405331; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC6204402.
- Andre CM, Hausman JF, Guerriero G. Front Plant Sci. 2016 Feb 4;7:19. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2016.00019. PubMed PMID: 26870049; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC4740396.
- Booth JK, Page JE, Bohlmann J. PLoS One. 2017 Mar 29;12(3):e0173911. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0173911. PubMed PMID: 28355238; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC5371325.
- Russo EB. Front Plant Sci. 2019 Jan 9;9:1969. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2018.01969. PubMed PMID: 30687364; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC6334252.
- Baron EP., Headache. 2018 Jul;58(7):1139-1186. doi: 10.1111/head.13345.
- Russo EB. Br J Pharmacol. 2011 Aug;163(7):1344-64. doi: 10.1111/j.1476-5381.2011.01238.x. PubMed PMID: 21749363; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3165946.
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