The process is currently being studied by many medical institutions across the world in order to grasp its importance within the human body.
The phrase “entourage effect” was introduced into the scientific lexicon during 1999. At this time, the entourage effect was defined as a novel method of endocannabinoid regulation.
The Endocannabinoid System
The endocannabinoid system, present in all mammals, is composed of neurotransmitters throughout the body. These transmitters are scientifically known as “retrograde neurotransmitters”, and share information with a myriad of cells in the body.
The role of the endocannabinoid system includes the regulation of:
- Anxiety/Social Behaviours/Stress Levels
- Regular Organ Functions
- Sleeping Patterns
- Immune System Functions
- Metabolism & Energy Levels
- Female Reproductive Organ Function
- Memory and Cognition
- Inflammation & Pain
When a human consumes cannabis, the endocannabinoid system transmitters begin a process in which neurotransmitters will attach themselves to cannabinoid receptors and proteins that already exist within the body.
The human endocannabinoid system is truly fascinating. This system of cannabinoid receptors, located throughout the body, allows cannabis to be used for an incredibly wide range of ailments.
The Entourage Effect Explained
After consuming cannabis, the cannabinoids and terpenes within the cannabis will react with the endocannabinoid system. The reaction of cannabinoids and terpenes within the endocannabinoid system may produce a synergistic combination of cannabinoids/terpenes (within the body) that are more potent than what they may produce on their own.
The entourage effect is also considered as a possible endocannabinoid system modulator.
An example of medicinal cannabis products that try to utilize this effect is full-spectrum CBD. Full-spectrum CBD contains low levels of other cannabinoids (and terpenes) that may have beneficial effects within the body when combined with the CBD cannabinoid.
The Entourage Effect: Cannabis, Cannabinoids, and Terpenes
The entourage effect could be the reason why different cannabis strains affect different individuals. Although the difference between Indica and Sativa cannabis strains should be considered, the cannabinoid content is, by far, the most important aspect of any cannabis strain.
Cannabinoids and terpenes can be found more often in some strains than others, however, these chemical compounds are not exclusive enough within Indica or Sativa strains to warrant the claims of certain effects only coming from Indicas or Sativas. The known effects of cannabis are caused by cannabinoids and terpenes, not by a specific strain classification.
Ethan Russo, one of the leading cannabis researchers in the world, argues, ” Given that such factors as plant height and leaflet width do not distinguish one Cannabis plant from another and similar difficulties in defining terms in Cannabis, the only reasonable solution is to characterize them by their biochemical/pharmacological characteristics”.
Russo and many others, including ourselves, would like to see cannabis distinguished by cannabinoid and terpene content rather than plant morphology. The cannabinoid and terpene content will have a far greater impact on the effects of any type of cannabis than the classification does.
Studies Surrounding the Entourage Effect and Cannabis Effectiveness
Here are just a few scientific studies surrounding the entourage effect, all sources are found at the end of this article.
It is worth mentioning that the term “entourage effect”, has evolved since its inception into scientific language; this may mean that the term may evolve further as cannabis, cannabinoids, and terpenes are studied further.
In 2010, a study was published that observed 177 patients experiencing pain from cancer. These patients found that CBD in conjunction with THC was useful in treating their pain.
In 2013, a study was published by the Frontiers in Psychiatry Journal entitled, “Does Cannabidiol Protect Against Adverse Psychological Effects of THC?” This study found evidence that CBD helps to counter some of the psychoactive effects of THC within the body. These effects include anxiety/paranoia and cognitive impairment.
A 2011 article, published by leading cannabis researcher Ethan Russo, suggests that terpenes and cannabinoids interact in a way that enhances cannabis as a medicinal substance. This is to say, cannabis may be more beneficial to certain medical conditions depending on its terpene/cannabinoid content.
Important Takeaways For Cannabis Consumers:
- The classification of Indica and Sativa does not matter as much as the cannabinoid content of the cannabis
- The entourage effect is still being studied for its effectiveness
- Strains classified as either Indica or Sativa can have very similar cannabinoid content
- Indicas are not necessarily best for night time use. Sativas are not necessarily better for use during daytime hours.
- The entourage effect is a proposed scientific reaction within the body, more studies are needed to conclusively confirm the effect
- The human endocannabinoid system is unique, like a fingerprint, and each individual may experience different effects from the same strain of cannabis.
- The difference between cannabis Indica and Sativa lies in classification (plant type) rather than the effects given from one particular strain or the other
- Cannabis edibles are only affected by cannabinoid content, never strain type
Thank you for reading “What is the Entourage Effect?” Sharing this on social media using the icons below helps us to grow and provide cannabis information to our audience across the world.
- Burnell-Nugent, B. Fallon, M, T. Ganae-Motan, E, D. Johnson, J, R. Lossingnol, D. Potts, R. (2010) Multicenter, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, parallel-group study of the efficacy, safety, and tolerability of THC: CBD extract and THC extract in patients with intractable cancer-related pain. Severn Hospice. Cancer Pain Relief Committee.
- Chen, A. (2017). Some of the Parts: Is Marijuana’s “Entourage Effect” Scientifically Valid? Scientific American.
- Fine, P, G. & Rosenfeld, M, J. (2013). The endocannabinoid system, cannabinoids, and pain. Rambam Maimonides Medical Journal.
- Niesink, R. J., & van Laar, M, W. (2013). Does Cannabidiol Protect Against Adverse Psychological Effects of THC? Frontiers in Psychiatry.
- Russo, E, B. (2011). Taming THC: potential cannabis synergy and phytocannabinoid-terpenoid entourage effects. British Journal of Pharmacology.
- Russo, E, B. (2019). The Case for the Entourage Effect and Conventional Breeding of Clinical Cannabis: No “Strain,” No Gain. Frontiers in Plant Science