As legalization and public acceptance of hemp continue to spread throughout the US, there has been much curiosity surrounding its applications in the medical field. A new term that keeps coming up in the world of hemp is "the entourage effect." The entourage effect is, put simply, the way different properties within hemp work together.
This unique phenomenon is only just beginning to be explored, but it is showing serious promise in our journey towards finding new applications for therapeutic plant chemical compounds in the medical field. Certainly, knowing a little bit more about hemp as a whole is important. We take a look into how cannabinoid synergy creates a truly remarkable synergistic effect in the body.
Within the hemp plant, scientists have been able to pinpoint at least one hundred different cannabinoids, each one more unique than the last. Some of the most well-known cannabinoids include the two popular known cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), though cannabinoids like tetrahydrocannabinolic (THCA) (mainly from marijuana plants) and cannabichromene (CBC) are also being studied more every day.
Many are aware that, while potent on their own, CBD and THC create a much stronger result when paired together. This is due to their synergistic properties toward one another. On its own, THC produces intense cerebral highs. CBD, on its own, produces zero psychoactive effects, only calming, medicinal ones. When the two are paired, a soothing high with pain-relieving, full-body effects is typically felt. Simply put: THC and CBD tend to create a better result when paired together. Cannabinoids within the hemp plant aren't the only phytochemicals that work together, though.
Though these cannabinoids are potent on their own, the presence of terpenes makes them all the more effective. Terpenes are compounds that are produced by plants typically as a deterrent for predators, as these oily substances are extremely pungent and come with their own set of properties. We're beginning to discover that, while cannabinoids still play a huge role within the hemp plant, terpenes may be where we should shift our focus when it comes to finding specific effects and properties. While terpenes themselves cannot get you high, each one contains obvious aromas, flavors, and benefits that are enjoyable in their own right.
The combination of cannabinoids and terpenes, however, results in the novel phenomenon called the "entourage effect" that we're exploring today.
What the Entourage Effect Is and How it Works
The theory surrounding the entourage effect is that each specific compound and phytochemical found within hemp influences its overall effect; so, the more well-rounded your hemp-derived product is, the better your experience will be. We'll give you an example: while enjoying a CBD isolate will almost undoubtedly give you medicinal benefits, these benefits may be more strongly felt in a full-spectrum CBD oil where other cannabinoids and terpenes are present.
The entourage effect plays solely on hemp's synergistic properties and the way that its myriad compounds work together, so the more terpenes and cannabinoids your hemp plant or product contains, theoretically, the better high you're going to experience. There is a big misconception that terpenes are just for aroma and taste. While each terpene definitely does have distinct flavor profiles, they also help to support the cannabinoids within the plant and provide definite properties that create clear effects.
Certain cannabinoids pair better with certain terpenes, and every day more and more potential synergies are being noted for creating specific effects. One of the most popular combinations is that of the cannabinoid CBD and the terpene limonene: these two are said to be an ideal combination for alleviating anxiety. When we are aware of these distinct results from notable pairings, we can better create products that can directly assist with specific bodily functions or medical issues, like anxiety.
There are numerous other pairings you can experiment with when it comes to cannabinoids and terpenes, and it is worth attempting to find a combination that gives you the effects you desire. Other popular pairings have been THC and CBN for sleep, CBD and caryophyllene for addiction, and THC and caryophyllene for pain and inflammation. Regardless of what we're looking to get out of our hemp, the entourage effect suggests that there's a huge potential for us to find just what we need -- it just may take a bit of time.
Growing Popularity and Emerging Research
As of right now, we still do not know much about the entourage effect. Because of how complex the plant is, as well as strict laws surrounding hemp research, learning just exactly how these cannabinoids and terpenes work isn't easy. We have little research going into this specific phenomenon, so, for now, it is important to still regard the effect as a theory, not as a fact.
However, that's not to say that you can't see for yourself if certain cannabinoid and terpene combinations work better in combination than others. Hemp produces an individual experience for every person and with more research, soon, we'll be able to better understand and discover more about how chemical compounds work in the human body.