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CBD 101: The Entourage Effect & Why It Matters
Many people consider a full-spectrum CBD oil as more beneficial than those made with CBD isolates. The reason for this is something called the entourage effect, a term we’re sure you’ve probably come across before.
But many CBD consumers aren’t always sure what the entourage effect is and what it means.
Or what it is about a full-spectrum CBD oil that makes it special? Or what it is about the entourage effect that makes it matter?
In this article, we’ll explore the entourage effect and why it matters in cannabinoid based medicines and CBD oils.
In addition, we’ll also look at whether a full-spectrum CBD oil really is a better option for everyone.
What is the Entourage Effect?
The concept of an entourage effect is not new. It is something that shamans, herbalists and wholistic health care practitioners have known about and used for centuries.
The entourage effect is also the reason many and cannabinoid researchers recommend whole plant CBD hemp oils and extracts.
The concept of the entourage effect started taking shape in 1998 when Dr. Raphael Mechoulam and his colleagues theorized that the endocannabinoid system (ECS) shows an ‘entourage effect’ – an effect in which a variety of ‘inactive’ metabolites and related molecules can enhance the activity of the primary endogenous cannabinoids, resulting in the ECS working better.
In other words, they suggested that all the different cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids found in the cannabis and hemp plants.
Both work together synergistically and create a more potent end-result than they do on their own.
Researchers believe that this helps to explain why whole plant cannabis and hemp extracts are more effective than single components when treating specific conditions.
Why does the Entourage Effect Matter?
Lab and patient-based studies show that CBD, THC, CBC, CBG and CBN work alone for certain symptoms.
But they often create better outcomes when used in combination (1).
Because together, they create a ‘synergistic effect’ between the various cannabis and hemp plant.
These findings suggest that the potential beneficial effects CBD isn’t necessarily down to the CBD alone.
However, cannabinoids are not the only player in this equation.
Aromatic plant compounds called terpenes also play a role in the entourage effect.
The plants add their own particular sets of benefits into the mix.
For instance, the terpene pinene was found to help counteract THC’s negative effects on memory and cognition.
Another study found that beta-caryophyllene can bind to the CB2 receptors similar to the way CBD does.
Similarly, terpenes can also help the body absorb and process cannabinoids more effectively.
This is because they increase their ability to cross the blood-brain barrier.
Let?s take a look at some specific, real-life examples of why the entourage effect matters.
Examples of the Entourage Effect in Practice
Scientists know that when they administer CBD isolates for pain relief, dosages steadily needs to increase to stay effective (2).
But, when they give a full-spectrum CBD extract, the pain-relieving effects remain stable, meaning that dosages don’t have to increase.
They also found that, unlike isolates, full-spectrum CBD extracts don’t have a ‘ceiling’ threshold where a point at which it no longer has an effect on pain.
Similarly, when researchers investigate the effects of CBD on human breast cancer cells, they show that full-spectrum cannabis extracts are more beneficial at reducing tumor size than pure THC alone.
The researchers put this down to small amounts of other cannabinoids, such as CBG and THCa working together to increase the effects of the THC.
Researchers also found that the entourage effect can play an important role in the treatment of epilepsy.
When they compared the results of five distinct types of cannabis extracts on seizure activity, they found that different cannabinoid and terpene profiles had different effects on the development of seizures as well as survival rates, despite the extracts all having the same amount of CBD.
They also found remarkable differences between the effectiveness of the different extracts, not only highlighting the importance of the entourage effect but also how different combinations and concentrations of cannabinoids and terpenes can make a difference.
Is a Full-Spectrum CBD Oil Always Better?
When taking all of this together, it begs the question of whether or not full-spectrum CBD oils and products are always better.
And as is always the case with any type of health supplement, the answer is not always straightforward, and depends on a bunch of different factors and considerations.
For instance, the ability of different cannabinoids and terpenes to work together synergistically with the ECS is not always a good thing.
Cannabinoid scientists believe that sometimes interactions between the different compounds aren?t needed or wanted, with the different compounds sometimes working against each other, resulting in a negative effect.
This is because full-spectrum CBD oils are exactly that, whole plant extracts that contain all the various compounds and chemicals found in the original plant. But each hemp plant is different.
And even plants from the same field grown right next to each other can end up having different cannabinoid and terpene profiles.
So, despite the best efforts and intentions of producers, what eventually ends up in a commercially produced bottle of full-spectrum CBD is not always consistent and can lead to a kind of ‘chemical chaos’.
Something that can become an issue in certain patients with serious health conditions.
This is also why researchers prefer using CBD isolates in their experiments. It is also why health care providers prefer using CBD products that are pharmaceutically prepared in laboratories when treating patients with serious illnesses.
However, for most people this is not something they should worry about too much.
When using a well-formulated, high-quality CBD product, and when used as a supplement, the exact cannabinoid and terpene ratios are only a small part of the equation.
There are so many other things to consider before deciding which type of CBD oil is best for you.
We?re all different, with our own physiological makeups, needs, and lifestyles, including things like cannabinoid sensitivities, drug testing and precision dosing.
In the end, these are what should determine the CBD oil you buy.