If you’ve ever used CBD products or even looked into buying them for yourself, you’ve probably come across the term “entourage effect” in your search. Many companies will add it to their labels without even truly knowing what it means, or use the phrase to market products like hemp seed oil, which contains no CBD. Considering the entourage effect can significantly play into choosing the CBD products you buy, it’s useful to know fact from fiction. Recently, there’s been some new research surrounding the entourage effect. This article will detail everything you need to know about this mysterious and controversial concept.
The term “entourage effect” was initially coined by legendary cannabis researcher Raphael Mechoulam in the 1990s. The entourage effect is the idea that all the compounds in cannabis work synergistically to provide their therapeutic effects. THC must work together with CBD and other cannabinoids and terpenes to produce optimum results. Conversely, this also means that individual compounds don’t work as effectively on their own as they would in combination with the others. The idea, then, is that things like THC or CBD isolates aren’t actually any more effective than using the raw cannabis flower. That isn’t to say that isolates are harmful because they certainly have their place. The entourage effect is theorized to optimize the use of CBD in your body, great for those who want the most effective relief possible.
Most CBD products that claim to produce the entourage effect are products that are considered full-spectrum. When a product is full-spectrum, that means that the CBD hasn’t been isolated from the hemp and instead has been extracted with the other cannabinoids and terpenes retained.
A recent body of research is suggesting that the most active and most effective entourage effect is the one between CBD and THC, usually observed by traditional marijuana users. It’s hypothesized that CBD takes the “edge” off of THC when used together, reducing the paranoia and intense body high often associated with THC. THC seems to effectively activate CB1 receptors in the brain, and when used on its own, produces a reaction that often manifests side effects like paranoia. CBD acts as a buffer between THC and the CB1 receptors, therefore lessening the adverse side effects of THC.
In a recent study done by researcher Ethan Russo, the limitations of the entourage effect were tested. In his research, he dove deep into several studies that aimed to clear up controversy surrounding the entourage effect. Russo suggests that comparing an isolate to the full-spectrum of cannabis compounds does present a dramatic difference. Specifically, he states that using one molecule will never be able to match the elaborate phytochemical makeup of marijuana. Beyond mainstream scientific studies, cannabis users have cited the entourage effect anecdotally for several years. Many people firmly believe that they notice significant differences between using a CBD isolate and a full spectrum product or raw cannabis.
For the entourage effect, the bottom line is that researchers are split. While some have found significant evidence to support the fact that the entourage effect exists, others are torn on its legitimacy. Although, it is this way with many concepts surrounding cannabis science, and it may not be formally solved until the stigma surrounding cannabis use is dissolved. However, researchers likely would not hypothesize the existence of the effect if people weren’t actively experiencing it.