Written by Ronan Beadnall
Now I know what you’re thinking, Entourage was a show in the mid noughties right? And yes, you would be right, but the show is also an accurate depiction of what the entourage effect really is. The dictionary definition of entourage is ‘a group attending or surrounding an important person’. The important person in our context is the Cannabinoids (CBD, CBG, THC, CBN etc.) in cannabis. Put simply, CBD and other cannabinoids work better when they are used in conjunction with the rest of the phytochemicals (plant chemicals) of cannabis, such as terpenes. If you do not know what terpenes are have a look at the earlier article on what they are and what they do.
A Cannabinoid describes any chemical compound that has a direct impact on the endocannabinoid system,
a neurotransmission network that exists in all mammals. Neurotransmission basically means the passing of messages between the body and brain. This is a hugely important system as it helps to regulate your entire body, and why CBD and other cannabinoids are so effective at helping your body. Cannabinoids aid the system by helping to send better and better signals from body to brain, and that allows your brain to work on your bodies problems much more efficiently. I know what you’re thinking, how does this relate to terpenes and all I can think of now is the show.
Terpenes are produced by plants for multiple reasons.
They can work to prevent natural fungus and bacteria from developing and even attract pollinators to the plant. That beautiful citrusy smell when you rip open an orange or a lemon? That’s terpenes! Each strain of cannabis developed over time to produce different terpenes through evolution to protect itself against its natural environment. In 1998 Dr. Raphael Mechoulam and Dr. Shimon Ben-Shabat theorized that cannabinoids would bind better to our CB (Cannabinoid) receptors when used in synergy with fatty acids and natural oils also found in Cannabis.
In 2009 Dr. Gudrun Ulrich-Mercenich and Professor Hildebert Wagner expanded upon this theory.
They found that when cannabinoids, such as CBD, are used in conjunction with terpenes and all other natural chemicals in the plant that it would not only improve the body’s ability to absorb beneficial chemicals through the blood-brain barrier but also that it could help to overcome bacterial defense mechanisms and minimize the unwanted side effects of certain cannabinoids. And this is exactly what the Entourage effect is! It is how CBD and other cannabinoids work substantially better when used synergistically with the rest of the phytochemicals. Simply, cannabinoids bind with CB receptors and instruct those receptors to create specific chemicals naturally in your own body. What terpenes help to do is bind the cannabinoids to the receptor and allow for information to be passed quicker and more efficiently between the two, and as consequence, for your body to regulate itself more efficiently. Terpenes also have their own individual effects such as calming effects, pain relief or elevated energy.
This is why when looking to use CBD for a specific purpose, the percentage of CBD in a product is far less important than the terpene count of the strain.
Again, if you would like to know more about terpenes check out earlier articles for information on them.
The problem with the CBD market currently is that CBD isolates are being sold widely and people are not told that they will not work very effectively for their problems such as pain or trouble sleeping or anxiety. It will help to regulate your body but will not give you any actual relief. This is because all the terpenes and other goodness of the plant are taken out, and the entourage effect cannot happen. If you have ever tried CBD isolate before you will know what I mean by this. Full spectrum CBD products are the only way to achieve the entourage effect and allow CBD not only to work better and bind with CB receptors more efficiently, but for terpenes at the same time to provide pain relieving and relaxing effects. A whole plant philosophy is incredibly important for the cannabis industry moving forward as products diminish in effects and usefulness the more phytochemicals are taken out.