What Is the Entourage Effect?
What is the entourage effect? In some cases, it would depend on who you asked.
The ‘entourage effect’ could be a discussion about full-spectrum (with up to 00.3% THC), or broad-spectrum (without any THC) CBD products. The real question is; does that trace amount of THC add anything to the overall effectiveness of the product?
The THC-specific issue aside, it’s generally considered that the 120 or so cannabinoids that have been isolated, work synergistically together to offer the greatest benefits to the end user. Though, some consider that the terpenes and flavonoids also contribute to the famed array of health effects. In this light, the full, entourage effect would contain these compounds as well.
Some CBD products are advertised to support or counter particular bodily, or life issues. So they could be heavy in certain cannabinoids and lighter in others, depending on what effect you’re targeting, e.g: relief from debilitating pain, or simply a general mood lift one afternoon.
This is usually achieved through (genetics) breeding and the varietal, or ‘strain’ of hemp used in the product.
For example; a makeup product could advertise as being high in CBC. CBC is an isolated cannabinoid considered great for skin care (and plenty of other things). It’s probable that there are other cannabinoids in that makeup that support the featured cannabinoid, and effect.
‘Isolates’ are products that only contain a single, particular cannabinoid, with none of any of the other plant’s compounds, terpenes or cannabinoids included.
Many novice users are under the impression that if they buy an isolate, they’ll enjoy greater benefits- as if the other compounds somehow diluted, or cut the desired effect. Fortunately, that has all but been ‘proven’ to be a misconception. We’ll get to that in a second.
Fundation-canna.es says, “As more scientific literature emerges supporting the entourage effect, and increased benefits of full-spectrum CBD compared to CBD isolate, we can expect the manufacture and sale of CBD goods based around isolate to greatly reduce in the coming years.”
As intimated above, it’s possible that some cannabinoids won’t be expressed in the user without other cannabinoids, terpenes, or flavonoids present. So some qualities/compounds are activated or switched-on by others. This makes the topic that much more interesting, layered, nuanced, subjective, and understandably, confounding for scientists. Still, this supposition completely supports the industry-accepted theory of the ‘entourage effect.’
Note: Terpenes are botanical aspects of most plants, responsible for the way they smell. They are part of the flavor and aromatic profile. Flavonoids are found in many foods and seem to have properties to counter issues like oxidative stress. It’s easy to see how these two common compounds, though not categorized as cannabinoids, could contribute to the full entourage effect.
What Are the Benefits of the Entourage Effect?
After reading the above, it’s easy to imagine how the benefits of a full-spectrum CBD product would outshine any particular cannabinoid isolate when used alone. That’s just how nature intended it and we won’t argue with nature.
“The benefit of the entourage effect is the increased likelihood of a therapeutic experience. More compounds consumed in whole plant medicine typically means a higher likelihood of pain relief, anti-inflammatory action, anxiety relief, etc.” Medmen.com
On the other hand, it’s also understandable to imagine that a newcomer to this vein of the wellness market could mistake an isolate-only product for being more effective than another that’s coupled, or supported by the other naturally occurring compounds found in the plant.
In this Scientific American article about the entourage effect, the writer admits, “The conventional science on this topic is scant.” Fair enough S.A., but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist. Absence of proof is not proof of absence.
Is the ‘Entourage Effect’ Proven?
The term was coined all the way back in 1998 by Raphael Mechoulam. Disappointingly, though there are all sorts of research on this topic, the answer that seems to come out of most of the laboratories is a collective shoulder shrug- usually, with more testing (and funding) needed.
A recent study by Nature released in April 2021 addressed the question. Here’s the lead quote from the abstract: “Limited evidence has suggested that terpenes found in Cannabis sativa are analgesic, and could produce an “entourage effect” whereby they modulate cannabinoids to result in improved outcomes. However, this hypothesis is controversial, with limited evidence.”
If you’re curious, here’s another 2019 article by Nature, titled: Cannabis’s Chemical Synergies which references a number of studies on the topic.
In closing, the entourage effect isn’t only limited to the effects of Cannabis and her derivatives on humans. The same sorts of synergistic relationships are found all throughout nature, and even in the balanced diet you pursue daily. Would you only eat carrots or only shellfish? How about only peanut butter? Well, some might, but it’s probably not recommended.
One way to find out if you’ll enjoy a broad-spectrum CBD is to try an easily accessible and delicious drink by Bimble. Not only are our sparkling CBD beverages refreshing and taste great, but they're made with 25mg of certified, broad-spectrum CBD and other natural goodness like raw honey.