Whether an entourage, ensemble, or synergy, cannabinoids and terpenes do their best work together.
By now, you’ve probably heard about cannabis and the entourage effect.
The entourage effect refers to how all of the compounds produced by an individual cannabis plant work together to create an experience or treatment.
Tiny, hair-like filaments that surround the cannabis flower – which are called trichomes – produce these compounds. And these trichomes produce a massive array of compounds classed as either cannabinoids or terpenes. Cannabinoids and terpenes help the plant by preventing the growth of mold and fungus, deterring pests, and serving other useful functions for the plant.
The two most well know cannabinoid molecules are THC and CBD, while terpenes are the primary active compounds in many essential oils like lavender or citrus oils.
Cannabis and the entourage effect are core to the marketing of CBD health and wellness companies, medical cannabis treatments, and recreational marijuana products that focus on “whole flower” products, as well as other traditional methods of consumption.
And the term was coined by a team of scientists headed up by the person responsible for discovering cannabinoids in the first place.
Where Did We Get the Term Entourage Effect?
In 1998, Raphael Mechoulam (the “Father of Cannabis”) and a team of Israeli researchers published a paper in which they coined the term “Entourage Effect.”
They were investigating the effects of full-spectrum cannabis extracts compared to isolates.
Now, full-spectrum extracts retain all of the cannabinoids and terpenes found in the plant, while isolates are pure formulations of CBD, THC, or another cannabinoid.
Their findings suggested that extracts with the full complement of cannabinoids and terpenes provided more effective treatment than pure cannabinoid isolates.
So the term entourage was used to suggest that cannabinoids and terpenes work together to create an effect.
The term picked up mainstream use after another paper – published in 2011 by Dr. Ethan Russo – showed how cannabinoids and terpenes work together to fight many health issues, including pain, anxiety, epilepsy, cancer, and bacterial infections.
And the benefits of cannabis and the entourage effect have a lot to do with one, very common, terpene.
A Full Explanation of the Cannabis Entourage Effect
β-myrcene is the most common terpene found in cannabis. You can also find it in hops and mango. This terpene is known to produce a sedating and relaxing effect on the body. Strains of cannabis with high β-myrcene concentrations, such as those of the Indica variety, are so sedating that one symptom of this type of marijuana consumption is “couch lock.”
One of the functions β-myrcene performs in the body is to inhibit the action of metabolic pathways responsible for inflammation. It is this action that contributes to its anti-inflammatory properties. This reduced inflammation also reduces pain over time.
β-myrcene also allows more things to pass through tissue. It is used in CBD and THC topical patches to increase the absorption of these cannabinoids through the skin and into the bloodstream. It’s so effective at letting substances pass that it also lowers the resistance of the blood-brain barrier. This means that cannabinoids and other terpenes can more effectively cross into the brain, as well as letting more β-myrcene through.
Another effect of β-myrcene is on the CB1 receptor. CB1 is one of two receptors in the human endocannabinoid system (ECS), the other being the CB2 receptor. CB1 receptors are found primarily in the central nervous system, which includes the brain, while you will find CB2 receptors in immune cells and the lymphatic system.
THC interacts with the CB1 receptor. That interaction allows it to affect the brain and get you high. β-myrcene improves how well the CB1 receptor absorbs THC, thereby magnifying its effects. Thus, between allowing more THC to enter the brain, boosting how much TCH gets taken in by the CB1 receptor, and having a sedative effect, THC and β-myrcene work together to make you so relaxed that you can’t leave your couch – aka, couch lock.
Fewer Muscle Spasms
Abundant in lavender, linalool is another cannabis terpene. It’s responsible for the calming, sleep-inducing effects of lavender essential oils.
Linalool does this by inhibiting nerve signals, and it’s this property, in conjunction with β-myrcene and CBD that makes it an effective treatment for muscle spasms – including those associated with multiple sclerosis (MS).
CBD activates the CB2 receptor, which blocks the release of substances that cause inflammation.
As I mentioned, β-myrcene let’s more of everything through, so its presence lets more CBD and linalool through. Linalool blocks the nerve signals, which can lead to muscle spasms, and both β-myrcene and CBD also reduces inflammation. Less inflammation could allow nerve cells damaged from MS to heal, while fewer muscle spasms mean fewer seizures.
Fighting Infectious Bacteria
MRSA is a type of infection-causing bacteria that is highly resistant to common antibiotics. Both CBD and CBG have proven antibiotic effects against this highly infectious superbug. Pinene – found in pine needles – is also effective against MRSA. Combine these compounds with β-myrcene’s ability to enhance the skins ability to absorb them, and you have a very powerful anti-infection cocktail.
And when we look at a terpene common to lemons, we can see how cannabis and the entourage effect helps with a very common affliction.
Treating Anxiety with the Entourage Effect
Of the many claimed benefits of cannabidiol (CBD), one is its ability to help relieve anxiety. The research is still in early stages, but preclinical trials suggest that CBD helps with anxiety by boosting the signaling of serotonin receptors in the brain.
The terpene limonene is also thought to help with anxiety, as well as reduce obsessive-compulsive disorder behavior (OCD) or even treat depression. Limonene is the most common terpene found in nature and occurs naturally in many cannabis. It tends to be most abundant in Sativa strains, but some Indica strains have high limonene profiles as well.
By working together, CBD and limonene create a synergy to alleviate anxiety.
And one other curious benefit of cannabis and the entourage effect works as an antidote to getting high in the first place!
Conclusion on the Entourage Effect
Though researchers don’t know exactly how, CBD prevents or reduces the high sensation you get from THC. And, from ancient times, lemon rinds and pine nuts have been considered effective antidotes for too much THC consumption.
Lemon rinds are rich in limonene and pine nuts in pinene. So cannabis that contains combinations of the cannabinoid CBD with either or both terpenes limonene and pinene can get you off your high, or keep you from getting there in the first place.
That’s why cannabis blends or extracts with equal amounts of THC and CBD are popular medical marijuana treatments.
By consuming them in equal proportions, you get many of the positive effects of both while CBD also works to prevent you from getting high.
There are many other terpenes and cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant, and we’re just barely scratching the surface of what know about the many ways they work together to affect our bodies.
Which is why the opportunity in cannabis is so tremendous.
From private companies dialing in terpene profiles, to soon-to-go-public ventures hoping to raise the capital they need to get to scale, there are hundreds of companies competing to create their slice of what could be $1 trillion in value in the U.S. alone.
We have a lot of ground to cover.
To your investing success,
3 responses to “Cannabis and the Entourage Effect Explained”
August 01 2019