The entourage effect refers to how various cannabinoids and other natural constituents work together synergistically to magnify their potential therapeutic properties. Introduced in 1998, a study by Israeli researchers Shimon Ben-Shabat and Raphael Mechoulam, the entourage effect theory maintains that isolated or synthetic cannabinoids aren’t as effective at eliciting curative effects as when all of the natural constituents work together harmoniously.
While it’s the two major cannabinoids — cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) – that garner most of the attention for their ability to provide therapeutic relief, in reality these cannabinoids work in conjunction with over 400 additional compounds to treat a multitude of medical ailments.
When cannabinoid oil is derived from the plant’s stalk and seeds, the extraction process draws out all of the plant’s terpenes, essential fatty acids, waxes, carbohydrates, fiber, protein, magnesium, iron, calcium, chlorophyll, flavonoids, and vitamins A, B, C, and E, and beta-Carotene, as well as other various cannabinoids. This “full-spectrum” oil allows you to take advantage of the whole plant and it’s natural healing properties.
Benefits of the Entourage Effect
By working together synergistically, the whole plant extract of cannabinoids and other natural constituents are able to affect multiple targets throughout the body. One recent study investigating cannabinoids’ potential therapeutic effect on muscle spasms caused by multiple sclerosis found whole plant extract to be more effective than administering THC alone.
The entourage effect also improves the absorption of active ingredients. Because cannabinoids are chemically polar compounds, sometimes it can be difficult for them to be absorbed. The other natural constituents may help improve their absorbability and viability.
Cannabinoids and natural constituents that work together also are able to better overcome bacterial defense mechanisms. While cannabinoids have shown to be potentially effective for treating bacterial infections, bacteria develop defense mechanisms over time. The other non-cannabinoid constituents found in cannabis also have antibacterial properties, utilizing other pathways to combat the bacteria.
While working together, cannabinoids and other natural constituents also minimize unwanted side effects. While THC alone can cause a euphoric response, and at times elicit anxiety and paranoia, CBD has shown it can modulate those unwanted effects.
When a complex mix of cannabinoids works in tandem with the essential nutrients and other natural components, they’re better able to provide their therapeutic and healing effects.
Want to learn more about various cannabinoids and their effects? Check out our article, “A Look at the Major and Minor Cannabinoids.”