What is the Entourage Effect… And What Does it Have to Do with CBD Oil?
If you have done any research into CBD oil, you are likely to have come across references to the entourage effect. The question is, do you know what it is? And, more importantly, do you know how beneficial CBD oil is that maximizes the entourage effect?
When deciding which CBD oil product is best for you, it’s important that you know the difference between full-spectrum cannabis extracts and cannabinoid isolates, and how the entourage effect comes into play. Understanding this will help you to choose the best possible product for your unique needs.
If you take a closer look at cannabis buds, you will notice that they’re covered in a sticky dusting of crystal resin. These contain hundreds of therapeutic compounds known as terpenoids and cannabinoids. You are most probably well acquainted with CBD and THC, but these are just two among many important players that work together to produce specific effects.
The interactive synergy that takes place between cannabis compounds has been deemed as the “entourage effect.” Once you know what the entourage effect is, you will understand why products that contain only CBD or THC aren’t always sufficient for certain conditions.
What is whole plant CBD oil?
“Whole plant medicine” is a phrase used to describe medicines that utilize the full spectrum of therapeutic compounds contained within the cannabis plant. Cannabis consists of over 100 cannabinoids, the main ones that you are familiar with being tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). Some of the other lesser known but still interesting cannabinoids include cannabichromene (CBC), cannabinol (CBN), cannabidiol acid (CBDA), tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV), and cannabidivarin (CBDV).
Each cannabinoid will have a different effect on the endocannabinoid system (ECS) in our body. Thus, each one can have different beneficial aspects. For example, CBD is widely thought to have antioxidant, pain-relieving, anti-inflammatory, anti-nausea, and anti-seizure effects. THC, on the other hand, is considered to be an appetite stimulant that helps with relaxation and brings about a sense of euphoria.
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is influenced by substances produced in the body called endocannabinoids. These are responsible for keeping our most essential functions in balance, including sleep, appetite, pain, the immune system, and much more. In times when our body gets out of balance, endocannabinoids can work to fix those problems.
The compounds of the cannabis plant mimic our endocannabinoids, and thus can be useful in helping the body to manage crisis and restore itself after a specific trauma when the body’s own endocannabinoids aren’t able to restore the body’s balance alone.
Ultimately, “whole plant CBD oil” utilizes the full cannabis plant, keeping intact the full synergistic properties of its fatty acids, rich terpenes, and secondary cannabinoids to interact with and enhance the properties of CBD. In other words, whole plant CBD oil contains a wide range of cannabinoids (not just CBD) that are naturally present in cannabis.
Whole plant extract and full spectrum oil are sometimes used interchangeably. The main difference is that, while they both contain a wide range of cannabinoids, whole plant extracts also contain waxes, fats, and other fibrous materials that may not be good for consumption.
Whole Plant CBD Oil vs. Pure CBD Oil
Now that we’ve discussed full spectrum oil and the meaning of whole plant extract, let’s take a look at cannabinoid isolates – and more specifically pure CBD isolates.
By now, you have probably figured out that since full spectrum CBD oil contains a wide range of cannabinoids, pure CBD oil is cannabidiol in its purest form. CBD isolate is indeed a term used for pure CBD, and it comes in powder form, containing no other active compounds — just the CBD molecules.
Pure CBD is extracted when CBD has been isolated from the rest of the plant, resulting in pure CBD crystals. This does have advantages, especially if the user is looking for an exclusive CBD experience. Pure CBD is perfect for those who want to experience the effects of CBD on before experimenting with the benefits of full-spectrum products.
Up until recently, it was widely believed that isolated CBD would be a more effective treatment to those who needed it than full spectrum oil. However, this theory was debunked in part by a research study done on malaria treatment back in 2011.
Ultimately, there are benefits to both full spectrum CBD and CBD isolate, and one isn’t necessarily better than the other. At the end of the day it comes down to consumer needs and the specific reasons for your using CBD oil or other CBD-infused products.
What is the entourage effect?
Since we have already discussed full spectrum CBD and CBD isolate, understanding the entourage effect should now make a lot more sense. Ultimately, the basic idea of the entourage effect is that all the cannabinoids found within the cannabis plant work together, and affect the body in a similar way to the body’s ECS.
The general understanding of the entourage effect is that it occurs when hundreds of natural components found within a plant interact together, combined with the human body to produce a stronger effect than any of the components could produce alone.
Essentially, it’s a synergistic effect. When we combine various components in their natural state, we get a multiplying effect, rather than ending up with the sum of the parts. The different compounds can amplify the effects of each other, which makes the overall plant more effective in helping treat a variety of symptoms.
The entourage effect is the biological interaction of cannabinoids, along with other compounds like terpenes and flavonoids. When all of these compounds work together, the synergy creates richer and stronger effects than either could achieve on their own. In other words, it isn’t just the cannabinoids that create the entourage effect; it’s also the terpenes (such as pinene, humulene, limonene, myrcene) and other flavonoids that lend their beneficial properties to the total impact that ingesting cannabinoids has.
In case you haven’t figured it out already, full spectrum oil helps to deliver the entourage effect, while CBD isolate does not. There are various beneficial interactions between the many compounds in whole plant CBD. The terpenes limonene and linalool, for example, combined with the cannabinoid CBG are believed to have certain antibiotic properties.
Pinene, which is another terpene, serves to counteract compromised cognition that could be induced by THC, while the cannabinoid CBN helps promote restfulness. These are just a few examples of the entourage effect, which create better levels of wellness than the single compounds could alone.
A popular example of the entourage effect is the interaction between THC and CBD. An interesting finding is that CBD has the potential to reverse the psychoactive effects of THC when used in conjunction with one another. CBD, in particular, can modulate the effects of THC on the body. Research has shown that a marijuana plant that contains far more THC than CBD makes the user feel “stoned.” While hemp, which contains reverse ratios (i.e. more CBD than THC), has the potential to relieve symptoms without the psychoactive effects of marijuana.
In summary, while many of the cannabinoids found in cannabis have individual benefits, it is believed that when used in combination, often along with terpenes and flavonoids, they are able to work synergistically to enhance these beneficial effects.
The entourage effect and CBD oil
While CBD and THC have become major topics in the discussion of the therapeutic benefits of cannabis products, the idea that other terpenes and cannabinoids may also contribute to the beneficial effects of CBD oil has emerged as the entourage effect.
Besides the major cannabinoids that we are all aware of – THC and CBD – CBD oil that is derived from different hemp and marijuana plants could also contain minor trace cannabinoids, like cannabigerol (CBG), cannabinol (CBN), tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV), cannabidiolic acid (CBDA), and cannabichromene (CBC), to name only a few of the over 100 cannabinoids found in cannabis.
Generally, people seem to respond better to products that have multiple cannabinoids as opposed to single cannabinoids in isolation. This is why it is often advised that you aim for a “whole plant extract” or “full plant extract” when you are shopping for your CBD oil product. This is because, as we have already discussed, full plant extract CBD oil will contain beneficial terpenes, enzymes, fatty acids, and other phytocannabinoids, in addition to CBD and other cannabinoids that are found naturally in the cannabis plant.
A CBD isolate product won’t contain these other beneficial aspects. It will only consist of pure, isolated CBD. Of course, pure CBD has its own benefits, and if you want to test how pure CBD affects you, then an isolated CBD product is the way to go.
Final thoughts on the entourage effect and CBD oil
Ultimately, it is a personal choice about whether it is best for you to use CBD isolate products or full spectrum products. The main benefit of using full spectrum CBD oil, or in other words, the main benefit of the entourage effect is that the final product contains all of the beneficial components of the natural plant, to ensure that you aren’t missing out on any of the potential benefits that the plant has to offer.
However, if you are looking to stay away from trace levels of THC (i.e. for drug testing), then you would be better off using a CBD isolate product. At the end of the day, it’s all about what you are looking to achieve from using the product.