The Entourage Effect
What is the entourage effect, and why do you need to care?
Briefly put, the entourage effect describes the increase in efficacy of individual cannabis compounds when they are used together. These compounds include the well-known compounds of CBD and THC, but also includes many of the hundreds of naturally occurring compounds found in hemp, such as Terpenes, flavonoids, minor cannabinoids (CBG, CBN, CBC, THCV etc.). A paper in the journal Current Neuropharmacology defines the entourage effect as “the suggested positive contribution derived from the addition of terpenes to cannabinoids” (Ferber et al, 2020).
First, you probably have some questions, such as what are terpenes and flavonoids? Terpenes are basically just essential oils that give the hemp plant its smell and flavor. Terpenes are found in many different plants, such as lavender, citrus, and rosemary. The benefits of many plant-derived medicines and herbs can actually be attributed to the terpenes that are present within those plants, according to an article in The Journal of Enzyme Inhibition and Medicinal Chemistry. The main findings of this article conclude that many different terpenes are very biologically active and have many and varying properties in the body, because they can be changed through a process called “biotransformation” into so many different end products, depending on what the body needs at the time. (Sultana and Saify, 2012). Remember our last blog post, where I talked about inflammation and antioxidant properties in full spectrum hemp products? Well, this paper theorizes that much of those antioxidant properties may be able to be attributed to the bioactivity of terpenes.
One such terpene is Limonene. This is one of the best studied and widely used terpenes in the world. An article titled “Limonene: Aroma of innovation in health and disease” reviews and summarizes much of the research that has been done on this one specific terpene. The clinically proven benefits of this terpene include benefits such as: Anti-inflammatory, Gastrointestinal tract support through downregulation of enzymes that can cause GI tract dysfunction, Respiratory tract function improvement, as well as increases in wound healing and viral activity. (Vieirra et al, 2018.) Keep in mind, this is ONE TERPENE, out of the hundreds that have been discovered and documented. This is also PEER-REVIEWED science that is telling us about all of these benefits from a single terpene. This points out the absolute importance of using a raw, full-spectrum product for the maximum benefit, as opposed to a pure CBD supplement or oil.
Another paper, in the Journal “Frontiers of Neurology”, discussing epilepsy treatment with CBD and other cannabis compounds, concluded that there were many additional benefits of “CBD-rich cannabis extracts” as compared to “purified CBD”, also known as CBD isolate. This points us to the conclusion that there is much more to hemp products than just CBD. This paper found that in randomized groups, 71% of patients reported improvement while using the “CBD-rich extract” as compared to 48% improvement while using “Purified CBD” (Pamplona, da Silva and Coan, 2018).
In addition to the many terpenes naturally found in Cannabis plants (Industrial Hemp), there are also a plethora of Phyto cannabinoids other than CBD, as alluded to earlier. THC, found in amounts of less than 0.3% by weight in Hemp plants, is known as “the stuff that gets you high”, has been shown in clinical studies to be an effective muscle relaxer, antispasmodic, a neuroprotective antioxidant, and “has 20 times the anti-inflammatory power of aspirin and twice that of hydrocortisone” (Evans, 1991) (Russo, 2011).
There are 5 other widely recognized cannabinoids, although more are discovered seemingly every day at trace amounts, called “minor cannabinoids”. These minor cannabinoids and their main recorded benefits are listed below. This list and the corresponding benefits are taken from the paper “Taming THC: potential cannabis synergy and Phyto cannabinoid-terpenoid entourage effects” from the British Journal of Pharmacology.
CBG: Has been shown to have relaxant properties that could be higher than that of CBD or THC. as well as anti-hypertensive properties, along with a host of anti-microbial and anti-depressant properties.
THCV: Anti-inflammatory properties, decreases body fat and increases energy expenditure in overweight lab rats.
CBN: Anti-inflammatory properties, promotion of bone formation has been exhibited in the laboratory.
CBDV: Anti-convulsatory agent.
CBC: Has been documented to have further anti-inflammatory and analgesic (pain relieving) properties.
This wide array of beneficial compounds in the hemp plant is the reason why we use unprocessed, whole plant biomass for our pellets. We are strong believers that there is much more than just CBD at work in our full-spectrum hemp pellets, which is why they aren’t labeled as “CBD pellets”. This is also why we strongly believe them to be a superior product to oils and tinctures. In the case of a full spectrum hemp product, the benefit lies within the synergistic relationship between terpenes & cannabinoids.
A.J. Vieira, F.P. Beserra, M.C. Souza, B.M. Totti, A.L. Rozza. Limonene: Aroma of innovation in health and disease. Chemico-Biological Interactions. 2018; 283: 97-106.
Ferber SG, Namdar D, Hen-Shoval D, et al. The "Entourage Effect": Terpenes Coupled with Cannabinoids for the Treatment of Mood Disorders and Anxiety Disorders. Curr Neuropharmacol. 2020;18(2):87-96. doi:10.2174/1570159X17666190903103923
Pamplona FA, da Silva LR, Coan AC. Potential Clinical Benefits of CBD-Rich Cannabis Extracts Over Purified CBD in Treatment-Resistant Epilepsy: Observational Data Meta-analysis [published correction appears in Front Neurol. 2019 Jan 10;9:1050]. Front Neurol. 2018; 9:759. Published 2018 Sep 12. doi:10.3389/fneur.2018.00759
Sultana, N. and Saify, Z., 2012. Enzymatic biotransformation of terpenes as bioactive agents. Journal of Enzyme Inhibition and Medicinal Chemistry, 28(6), pp.1113-1128.