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The Entourage Effect: How to Enjoy the Full Benefits of Cannabis

Modern research solves the issue of getting more out of marijuana

If you have ever looked at a cannabis flower, chances are you have noticed the sticky, shiny dots of resin in trichomes. This resin and the compounds present in it give marijuana its well-known effects, ranging from therapeutic to recreational.

CBD and THC are two well-known compounds (known as cannabinoids) found in cannabis plants in large concentrations. However, the trichomes also have several other minor cannabinoids – more than 100, fact – in small concentrations that contribute to the overall benefits of the strain.

This is known as the ‘Entourage Effect’ – the fundamental principle that different cannabis compounds work together to produce various effects – which is much better than taking the said compounds only by themselves.

It is all about working together

Different type of cannabinoids in marijuana

When we smoke cannabis, many cannabinoids enter our bodies, each with unique properties and effects. Depending on how they interact, these effects may change – this is what the entourage effect is all about.

And in theory, taking pure CBD or THC may not be as beneficial as taking the ‘entire plant’ – that is, consuming all the compounds.

You see, in addition to CBD and THC, there are other compounds such as:

  • Cannabinol (CBN): Anti-bacterial, appetite stimulation, anti-inflammatory
  • Cannabichromene (CBC): Anti-pain, anti-inflammatory, works synergistically with other cannabinoids
  • Cannabigerol (CBG)

And with these, there are also terpenes and flavinoids to consider.

Terpenes are aromatic compounds that give cannabis flowers and plants their characteristic scent – like lavender, rosemary, etc. They are found in all plants but are associated with high concentrated marijuana.

There are thousands of terpenes out there, but purely from the context of cannabis plants, the following are of interest:

  • Myrcene: One of the most common cannabis terpenes out there. It has relaxing, sedating properties in addition to being anti-bacterial and anti-fungal. It is generally seen as a sleep aid
  • Limonene: Known to improve mood and reduce stress, it is commonly found in citrus plants. Also has anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant benefits
  • Caryophyllene: Binds to cannabinoid receptors in the endocannabinoid system, has anti-inflammatory effects 

To give you a real-life example of how the entourage effect works, try this out:

Tips when smoking weed

Next time you decide to smoke marijuana, eat mangoes some half an hour before. The effects you will experience will be far better than just smoking the plant. This is because mangoes are rich in myrcene, which works harmoniously with cannabis and your ECS to amplify the benefits.

The bottom line is you have terpenes and cannabinoids interacting, different cannabinoids interacting together, and external cannabinoids working with the ones produced by our bodies – all of which is happening in your endocannabinoid system!

All this synergy is expected to produce favourable outcomes and medicinal benefits.

How this affects the development of new strains

The different cannabis strains

Think of it as music mixing board with 100+ unique beats and modes. You can create a symphony of different compositions, genres, and songs for different moods, all by manipulating the beats on the board.

This is what cannabis growers across the world have been trying. The success has been good to see, but we can expect more development as we begin to broaden our understanding of marijuana.

This is what cannabis growers across the world have been trying. The success has been good to see but as we begin to broaden our understanding of marijuana, we can expect more development.

For example, decades of cross-breeding have given rise to Northern Lights strain: an indica-dominant strain rich in myrcene. The profile of this bud – again, resulting due to the compounds in its trichomes – is sleepy, calming, and sedating with euphoric effects.

Similarly, you have Jack Herer – an uplifting strain that energises your body and mind. It is sativa dominant that also contains terpinolene.

Hundreds of such cannabis strains exist globally, each with its own profile.

What does the science say about the entourage effect?

The most common terpenes in weed

It is believed that the group dynamics of all cannabinoids and other compounds working together can lead to better effects that you would not otherwise find in pure THC or CBD. The entourage effect can potentially magnify the effects of these compounds and even expand their therapeutic benefits.

As for the science behind it all, more research is needed. But the existing data is promising.

2010 review titled ‘Taming THC’ by Ethan Russo remains the benchmark in fully understanding the entourage effect. The study makes several compelling points such as:

  • Memory loss caused by THC can be counteracted by the terpene pinene
  • CBD can also enhance the effects of THC, as made evident in a 2010 clinical study involving the marijuana medication Sativex (equal parts of THC and CBD) for cancer pain. Some patients were given Sativex while others were given just pure THC and placebo. Sativex was found to reduce the pain in cancer patients significantly – reporting better success than those who took pure THC.
  • CBD and limonene may work together to reduce anxiety
  • CBD can also negate the effects of THC because of the way it works with the endocannabinoid system. In other words, CBD can make you less stoned and paranoid and can potentially be used in medications driven by THC.

But that’s not all:

  • 2018 meta-analysis revealed that pure CBD extracts were not as effective as CBD mixed with other cannabinoids and terpenes when it came to reducing the occurrence of seizures in epilepsy patients
  • Another 2018 study explored the antitumor action of cannabis in preclinical models of breast cancer. It concluded that the antitumor effects of cannabis extract treatment (cannabinoids combined with other compounds) were far superior to that of pure THC

These are just a few of the several occurrences that have set the foundation for the medical marijuana industry. A common theme has been established that pure or standalone CBD/THC may not do you half as good as taking it with other cannabinoids like terpenes.

For instance, in the case of CBD extracts, you may be better off going with a full-spectrum or broad-spectrum product to enjoy all the benefits. 

Parting thoughts

As the cannabis industry grows in Thailand thanks to its favorable laws, they are finding their way into everyday wellness products. Whether it is in medicines to treat a particular problem or just for general well-being, people accept cannabis and are willing to give it a try.

The entourage effect has been a defining principle in all these developments. The idea is that all cannabis compounds work together in harmony to lead us to the magical power of cannabis.

However, CBD and THC have stolen the spotlight when it comes to research. Other cannabinoids and even terpenes are off the radar and need some push towards them. The medicinal possibilities are limitless.

It is only now that many cultivators are starting to enhance the profile of their strains by adding terpenes and other cannabinoids into the mix. Nevertheless, the interest is there, and as it continues to grow, we can get a step closer to fully unlocking the mysteries of marijuana.