The entourage effect is a one-of-a-kind phenomenon. It refers to the mechanism by which the substances within cannabis actually work for distinct effects. The group of chemicals in cannabis is more effective when used together than when one chemical is used by itself. A good example of this is how THC interacts with CBD. THC can cause psychoactive effects. CBD is believed to regulate the psychoactive ceiling of the THC. As a result, the potential for anxiety is less.
Cannabinoids and Terpenes: Their Role in the Entourage Effect
Terpenes are aromatic compounds found in cannabis that give cannabis its unique smell. These compounds are also found in fruits, flowers and plants. The terpene linalool has a citrus and lavender scent. This terpene also has a sedating effect and amplifies the relaxing effect of CBD. Terpenes A and B-pinene have a pine scent. These terpenes also have therapeutic properties.
Cannabinoids are chemical compounds that have an effect on the endocannabinoid system (ECS). Cannabinoids may be influenced by terpenes. Since every cannabis strain has a different composition of both cannabinoids and terpenes, the entourage effect may explain why different strains have distinct effects. At this time, research is in the early state. As a result, it’s not clear how specific terpenes interact with different cannabinoids.
The entourage effect opens up new ways of using cannabis for both medicinal and recreational purposes. In the past, terpene profiles of cannabis weren’t thought to do more than deliver taste and scent. However, they have caught the attention of manufactures of cannabis supplements and cannabis medicines. For example, the FDA-approved cannabinoid Sativex is a medicine for MS spasms. The company that made Sativex found the medicine worked better when combined with flavonoids and various terpenes. This combination relived more symptoms than when only one cannabinoid was used.
What the Studies Reveal
Studies on the entourage effect focused on how cannabinoids and terpenes affect each other. A rodent study in 2017 administered CBD and THC to the mice. This experiment revealed that the CBD synergistically enhanced the THC to relieve pain. This suggests that a THD and CBD combination may be able to be used in the treatment of neuropathic pain. Human trials in 2006 showed synergy between the two compounds. The conclusion was that CBD and THC increase efficacy when reducing adverse symptoms. Plus, there are studies on terpenes, too. In 2018, linalool was discovered to produce an anxiolytic and calming effect in mice. Lab tests also revealed that both A and B-pinene have synergistic effects when used with the chemotherapy medication Paclitaxel.
It’s important to note that CBD interacts with cannabinoid receptors in a different way than THC. It doesn’t bind directly to the receptors but modulates their activity. CBD actually works again the production of an enzyme that breaks down the endocannabinoid anandamide. As a result, the CBD increase the amount of this cannabinoid in the brain. In this way, CBD tames the effects of THC and enhances its qualities. There is a less psychoactive high.
For the most part, the entourage effect gained ground in 2011 when a paper published in the British Journal of Pharmacology reviewed the interactions between terpenes and cannabinoids. It was speculated that the short term memory can be prevented if there’s pinene in cannabis. Still, there are no real facts that the entourage effect really exists. It’s mostly anecdotal evidence. With cannabis, lore is the law. Marijuana dispensaries now list and advertise different cannabinoid rations with detailed terpene profiles. Companies like Phylos and NaPro Research have begun working with breed cannabis varieties with different levels of terpenes, including myrcene, pinene and limonene. Some studies are tough because of marijuana’s Schedule I status. Due to this status, research licenses are not available for many scientists. For sure, more clinical trials are needed. There’s just scientific literature lacking to support the entourage effect. There just may be an entourage effect, but it’s impossible to know without more information. Plus, the placebo effect is powerful. If you believe you’re going to have a cerebral experience, then you probably will.
Common Terpenes and Benefits
Common terpenes include alpha-humulene, alpha-pinene, limonene, beta-caryophyllene, eucalyptol and myrcene. Alpha-humulene has an earthy and woody aroma and is commonly found in beers. It’s also found in sage, ginseng and ginger. High concentrations of this terpene have anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial and appetite-suppressing properties. Alpha-pinene has the aroma of pine, conifer and juniper trees. It’s also found in sage bushes and eucalyptus. It has antiseptic and anti-inflammatory benefits. Plus, it energizes and stimulates. Beta-caryophyllene smells like pepper. It’s found in rosemary, cloves and hops. This terpene is a non-psychoactive agent in the body’s endocannabinoid system. It’s known to alleviate pain and reduce chronic inflammation. Eucalyptol has the fragrance of eucalyptus plants. It’s found in rosemary, bay leaves and tea trees. It’s used as an antioxidant, relief for asthma and muscle and joint pain.
Limonene gives cannabis a lemony aroma and is zesty. It’s found in fruit rinds like lemon peels. This strain is typically used to help with anxiety, pain and inflammation. Myrcene is a strong terpene with an earthy aroma. It’s found in mangoes, wild thyme, bay leaves and parsley. It’s good for pain relief. Some feel that myrcene interacts with THC and allows cannabinoids to cross the blood-brain barrier easier. It’s also used for its anti-carcinogenic and anti-inflammatory properties.
All of these different aromas and purposes are used based on personal preferences. They are indicative of therapeutic benefits and additional medicinal benefits when used in combination with cannabinoids. In addition, they can be methodically combined to create specific entourage effects.
In sum, these entourage effects make for complex interactions with cannabis. The advancements in science will continue to allow the production of increasingly precise cannabis products. Modern science continues to help us better understand what terpenes can do. By understanding which terpenes do what, patients, doctors and scientists can choose cannabis products that specifically align with one’s needs. It just keeps getting better and better.