The Entourage Effect – The Synergistic Benefits Hidden in Cannabis and Hemp Plants
The Secret to Unlocking More Benefits From Cannabis
In a recent flurry of discoveries, scientists have uncovered profound benefits to consuming hemp and cannabis, what are the biggest benefits? More on that in a minute.
First some background on where we are using hemp and cannabis as medicine.There are only a handful of compounds found in cannabis and hemp that usually get discussed.
But as it turns out, there are more than 500 compounds present in cannabis plants – and researchers have discovered something surprising about them.
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This discovery is so remarkable it may lead to unlocking this ancient plant’s greatest medicinal benefits.
Cannabis research in America has come a long way since the push for nationwide decriminalization and legalization began. Yet, we have only started to grasp the full scope of its potential health benefits.
You may already be familiar with many of the benefits cannabis has become well-known for – like treating eating disorders or easing muscle pain, but we’re now beginning to understand more about how cannabis compounds interact, and how their synergy may be used to treat an even wider range of conditions.
Known as the Entourage Effect, the synergistic nature of cannabis compounds was first discovered by the Israeli research team, Raphael Mechoulam and Shimon Ben-Shabat in 1989.
Now, this discovery is paving the way for new ideas about a wide range of potential uses – which we’ll cover in just a minute.
But first, what makes cannabis so therapeutic, anyway?
It’s Like a Multivitamin for Inflammation
Chronic inflammation at a cellular level is said to be at the root of many if not all diseases. Luckily, the cannabis plant has extensive anti-inflammatory properties that are enhanced through the entourage effect. Whole plant extracts provide the full synergistic benefits of the compounds found in cannabis.
University of Washington cannabis researcher, Adie Wilson-Poe, says, “if you were to vaporize a whole flower, you’d be consuming potentially a couple dozen anti-inflammatory molecules at once. In this sense, I think of whole-plant cannabis as like a multivitamin for inflammation.”
It’s a More Effective Treatment for Inflammation than Many Common Drugs
Whole plant extracts have shown to be more effective for treating inflammation than individual cannabis isolates like pure CBD.
Because of the Entourage Effect!
But even more surprisingly…
Studies also show that either option, full-spectrum extracts or isolates like CBD alone, is superior to commonly available commercial drugs. That’s because cannabis has medicinal properties not found in widely used inflammatory drugs.
So, how does the Entourage Effect work anyway?
Remember those 500 cannabis compounds?
The Entourage Effect is powered by the interactive synergy between the cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids that make up those cannabis compounds.
Their synergy allows them to produce different, often more significant, beneficial results together than alone.
Each cannabis compound brings its unique properties into play. Here’s what that looks like —
Cannabinoids: naturally occurring compounds that interact with our endocannabinoid system. Some of the most well-known compounds include;
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) – One of the most researched cannabinoids, THC is the compound that gives cannabis its psychoactive effects. It is also helpful for reducing nausea, reducing seizures, reducing muscle spasms, and fighting tumor and cancer cells.
Cannabidiol (CBD) -Another well-known cannabinoid. CBD has no psychoactive effects and is also good at reducing nausea, reducing inflammation, and fighting tumor and cancer cells.
Cannabinol (CBN) – CBN is useful for promoting sleep and reducing pain and muscle spasms.
Cannabigerol (CBG) – This cannabinoid is used to treat depression. It is also a powerful muscle relaxant, antibiotic and antifungal agent, and helps reduce blood pressure.
Cannabichromene (CBC) – This non-psychoactive compound has anti-inflammatory, antibiotic, antifungal, and anti-cancer properties.
Terpenes: These are organic compounds that give individual cannabis strains their specific fragrances. The most common terpene is pinene. It gives cannabis its pine-like smell and has strong anti-inflammatory properties. The most well-known terpenes include;
This terpene gives cannabis a citrus smell. It also stimulates weight loss, helps treat bronchial infections and has been used to prevent/treat cancer. Often used in cannabis-infused ointments where it can be easily absorbed through the skin.
Giving cannabis strains a slightly fruity, earthy taste, myrcene is useful for relaxing muscles and has a sedative effect. It is also a strong anti-inflammatory.
Also found in chamomile, this terpene has powerful anti-bacterial properties making it an effective treatment for healing wounds and fighting inflammation. It gives cannabis strains a flowery scent.
This helpful terpene gives cannabis a floral aroma and aids in neural function. It can also be found in mint, cinnamon, and even some mushrooms. It contains anti-inflammatory properties and is often used to treat liver cancer.
This versatile terpene is an antiseptic and highly effective pain reliever. It gives cannabis an earthy camphor scent and has been used to alleviate the symptoms of asthma. Also an effective treatment for insomniacs.
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Flavonoids: These are the antioxidant compounds that give cannabis plants pigments and attract pollinators. Highly active flavonoids in cannabis – like Silymarin, Kaempferol, Orientin, and Quercetin are known to exhibit anti-inflammatory and anti-fungal properties. They also show cancer fighting and prevention potential.
While these flavonoids are also found in many other plants, cannabis contains some flavonoids that are unique only to it – these are are called, cannaflavins. Early research on a compound called Cannaflavin A is showing that it could be a stronger anti-inflammatory than aspirin.
Why does all of this matter?
Whole-Plant Medicine Reveals More Therapeutic Possibilities
Sure, each of these compounds is pharmacologically active and highly effective on their own, but together a whole new range of therapeutic possibilities open up based on how these compounds interact.
And they’re showing great promise in their potential to treat a wide range of conditions.
For example, cancer researchers have found that THC and CBD combined is more effective at killing and inhibiting the growth of cancer cells than THC alone.
And a study by the Lautenberg Center for Immunology and Cancer Research comparing the effectiveness of CBD isolate to full-plant extract on swelling and pain concluded, “CBD is only effective against swelling and pain at a certain dose, and that cannabis solutions containing a full range of cannabinoids will continue to provide corresponding effects as the dosage is increased.”
This kind of potential is the most exciting part of the Entourage Effect.
But here’s the thing…
While the cannabis plant contains many therapeutic compounds, most are removed during processing to manufacture products with specific, isolated cannabinoids, like those that contain only CBD.
So, if you want to experience the benefits of the Entourage Effect, you’ll need to consume the whole plant by one method or another.
And as the synergy between cannabis compounds is becoming more widely understood, more products containing whole plant extracts are becoming available.
There is one small catch…
When to Avoid Using the Whole Plant
There are times when using isolated cannabinoids may prove to be more beneficial than using the whole plant, or combinations of cannabis compounds.
For example, THC has been a common treatment for glaucoma, but when administered with CBD, it is blocked from connecting with receptors in our endocannabinoid system, and its therapeutic effects are diminished.
This is one instance where cannabinoids work against each other, basically canceling each other out – and are therefore a less effective treatment when administered together to treat glaucoma.
Interestingly, CBD may have its own beneficial effect on treating glaucoma, but more research is needed.
One thing is for certain, as research rapidly evolves, we will see more emphasis placed on understanding when it’s in our best interest to use a whole-plant approach and when to isolate and combine specific compounds for maximum benefit.
Many Potential Benefits of the Entourage Effect Already Discovered
Early research has suggested there is an enormous untapped potential to use the natural synergistic properties of the compounds present in cannabis to treat a wide range of issues like —
Cannabinoids THC and CBD work well when combined with the terpene pinene to improve focus and treat ADHD.
The combination of THC as an appetite stimulant and CBD to counter the psychoactive effects of the THC have been effectively used to treat appetite loss, nausea, and anorexia.
Anxiety and Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)
Both CBD and THC interact with norepinephrine, dopamine and serotonin receptors that make them beneficial in treating anxiety and PTSD. Adding to the entourage, terpenes limonene and phytol are thought to modulate GABA levels, while linalool, pinene, and beta-caryophyllene are all believed to have anti-anxiety effects.
Oxidative stress and the production of free radicals in the brain are associated with bipolar disorder. CBD’s anti-oxidative and neuroprotective properties can impede the brain’s production of free radicals. And using varying levels of CBD and THC in combination is showing signs of being an effective treatment.
Cancer Fighting Properties
The terpenes myrcene and limonene in combination with CBD have shown promise for fighting/preventing cancer.
Full-spectrum CBD oil contains all of the same compounds and cannabinoids as the original plant. It is potentially useful for treating depression.
Research has shown that patients who have epilepsy experienced better treatment results when using a CBD oil with combined compounds rather than a purified CBD isolate.
Methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus Aureus
This type of Staph infection is difficult to treat because it has become resistant to conventional medications. Terpenes linalool and limonene, when combined with CBG (cannabigerol), has shown promise in becoming a potential treatment.
Full spectrum CBD oil has been shown to provide relief for multiple sclerosis patients and has the potential to be a more common treatment option in the future.
Muscle Cramps & Migraines
CBD and THC have proven to be an effective combination for treating muscle cramps and migraines – and more effective as a combination than when taken individually.
Pain from Inflammation
To ease the pain from inflammation, researchers are looking at the benefits of full spectrum CBD oil.
How can you use this information to your benefit?
Any method that involves consuming whole-plant cannabis – like eating, smoking, or vaping, will provide you with benefits of the Entourage Effect.
One simple way to reap the benefits is with full-spectrum CBD oil which has recently become more widely available.
The Benefits of Full-Spectrum CBD Oil
Every part of the cannabis plant contains different chemicals — the stalks, leaves, and flowers, all contain different, beneficial compounds. And full-spectrum CBD oil captures them all.
Full-spectrum extracts not only retain all the same chemical compounds of the original cannabis plant, but they also contain a variety of vitamins, minerals, essential fats, and proteins.
Hemp vs. Marijuana Derived Oils
The significant difference between hemp plants and marijuana plants is the amount of THC each contains. Hemp plants are intentionally bred to produce low levels of THC. The verdict is still out on whether one is necessarily better than the other for therapeutic use. The answer may be different for each person depending on how their bodies respond to THC – particularly its psychoactive effects.
What Are the Best Extraction Methods?
High-quality oil is extracted in a way that preserves as many of the natural cannabis chemicals as possible. Typically, this means CO₂ extraction which is considered to be more environmentally friendly than other methods – as well as less expensive and less toxic. It also produces a more consistent product that is more palatable.
So, what is the biggest benefit to consuming hemp and cannabis?
Versatility. The most significant health benefit of hemp and cannabis is the presence of natural compounds that can be used individually or in combinations to treat a wide range of conditions.
Here Are the Key Takeaways
We now know that cannabis compounds are not only beneficial when isolated, but they are often even more beneficial when used in combinations that allow for synergistic interactions to take place.
The synergistic nature of these compounds is known as the Entourage Effect.
Full-spectrum CBD oil is an easy way to experience the therapeutic benefits of the Entourage Effect yourself.
When choosing a CBD oil, pick one that uses a high-quality extraction method.
Ready to Give the Entourage Effect a Try?
With hemp-derived CBD now legal to purchase and consume in all 50 states, finding full-spectrum CBD oil is a breeze. (Marijuana-derived CBD is not yet legal in all states.)
While it is most commonly offered as an oil, full-spectrum CBD can also be experienced as edibles and ointments.
Finding the Right CBD Oil For You
With so many products available, how do you know which one is right for you? It may take some experimentation, but we do have some good advice on where to start and what to look for. Check out our CBD Full Spectrum Definitive Buyers Guide.
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