Even though it is a theoretical explanation, the entourage effect could explain why cannabis has such amazing and unique effects on our body and our brain. Cannabis contains many different compounds, including terpenes and cannabinoids. These compounds all have their own particular effects. However, when these substances come together in our body, they also interact with each other. This interaction is known as the entourage effect, and it could be responsible for the subtle differences that give every cannabis strain its own unique high.
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Powerful Active Compounds Responsible For The Entourage Effect
The cannabis plant is in a league of its own – as any weed enthusiast will agree. We enjoy her myriad influences, whether they’re mind-expanding, creativity-boosting, relaxing, or indeed enervating highs – the list goes on. All of these different effects are caused by the hundreds of natural compound the plant contains. Most people know about THC and CDB, but cannabis can bring us so much more.
- THC (tetrahydrocannabinol)
- CBD (cannabidiol)
- CBN (cannabinol)
- Cannabigerol (CBG)
- Cannabinodiol (CBDL)
- Cannabitriol (CBT)
- Cannabichromene (CBC)
- Cannabielsoin (CBE)
These lists are far from complete. By now, over 100 different cannabinoids have been discovered, as well as more than 200 unique terpenes. Terpenes are compounds produced by all plants. These molecules give plants their typical flavours and scents, as you’ll notice with examples like caryophyllene in basil or black pepper, and myrcene in thyme. All of these organic compounds interact with each other and produce combined effects. This makes for an endless list of possible combinations, along with unlimited variety in the effects these combinations cause when we some or eat different cannabis strains. We call the unique effect produced by the interaction between cannabis compounds the entourage effect.
The Synergy Of Weed
So how does this entourage effect of cannabis express itself, you wonder? In fact, not much research has been done to discover how all these substances influence each other. We only know a few pieces of this complex puzzle. One example is that the cannabinoids CBD and CBD can slow down bacterial infections caused by MRSA. Combinations of CBD and THC are also known to produce an entourage effect. THC is the cannabinoid that causes your basic high effect. Although highs can be very pleasant, some people may experience anxiety and panic after smoking cannabis. CBD can counter these experiences by its calming effect. Consumption of weed containing sufficient levels of both THC and CBD can result in a more relaxed high for you to enjoy. This combination is an example of an entourage effect.
As you see, different cannabinoids can work together to produce an entourage effect, but interactions between cannabinoids and terpenes can do the same.
Well-known synergies between cannabinoids and terpenes include the following:
- Pinene (a terpene) counters the memory-disrupting effect of THC;
- CBD and the terpene limonene can work together to reduce anxiety;
- CBD and caryophyllene may be effective candidates for combating addiction.
Until recently, terpenes were not considered important compounds of the cannabis plant. These days, they enjoy much more attention. Interestingly, research has shown that certain terpenes do not affect CB1 or CB2 receptors (which are influenced by cannabinoids such as THC and CBD). This finding seems to indicate that entourage effects may not be governed by the same mechanism that produces your high – the endocannabinoid system (ECS). Clearly, we need further research: both into the working of the entourage effect and its influence on us.
Further Research Into The Entourage Effect
At this point, the entourage effect is little more than speculative theory. Nonetheless, further studies are likely to reveal more in the near future. Apparently, the interactions between cannabis compounds is not just beneficial for recreational weed enthusiasts. The entourage effect is also interesting from a medical point of view.
Raphael Mechoulam is a well-known and respected scientist who has dedicated much of his career to studying cannabis. He was one of the first to mention the entourage effect. Mechoulam calls the cannabis planta neglected pharmaceutical treasure trove. Promoting more research into cannabis for its intrinsic value calls for more general interest – from consumers as well as from the medical community.
Regrettably, many people fond of smoking cannabis still tend to pick the only strains containing the most THC. Producers often encourage this by trying to breed strains with ever higher THC levels. These strains may get you as stoned as you can be, but all those other compounds won’t get a fair shot at making their subtle effects felt. There are some organisations (such as Amsterdam Genetics) offering cannabis seeds that contain more CBD instead of just as much THC as possible. Still, there is a whole world of cannabis nuances waiting to be discovered if we pay more attention to the entourage effect.
The Treasure Trove Of The Entourage Effect
So if we want plants that unlock the full treasure trove of these precious cannabis compounds, we’re going to have to spend time and effort on it. If we take the entourage effect into account, we can view the cannabis plant from a whole new angle. Fortunately, the tide seems to be turning in recent years. As more countries and states legalise medical and recreational use of cannabis, growers find more opportunities to develop new strains. On top of that, cannabis consumers are increasing the demand for strains with specific terpenes and cannabinoids. Our expanding knowledge of the entourage effect is part of what causes this trend.
Weed already offered great possibilities, but our options could expand even further in the near future. That may come with benefits for our mind and body that we can’t even imagine today. Let;s try to enjoy our favourite flower in all her glory and beauty, including all the natural secrets she may still be hiding from us!