Back then it was only a theory suggesting that when the compounds of a plant work together, their results are more pronounced. In the same vein, using an isolated plant compound results in much weaker effects. Today, we know that the entourage effect is one of the most important discoveries in cannabinoid research. When various compounds in the plant are consumed together, especially terpenes and not just cannabinoids, the benefits we get are much more powerful.
The entourage effect is important for medical patients who want to maximize the healing powers of the marijuana plant. On the other hand, recreational users who are merely after the psychoactive benefits of THC, or the relaxing qualities of CBD, will do just fine consuming them as isolates.
On that note, understanding more about the entourage effect is significant for the medical field.
A few weeks ago, the results of a revolutionary study on the entourage effect were released. It was conducted by PAX, a big player in the cannabis device industry, together with a Canadian neurotechnology firm called Zentrela. Together, they sought to better understand how the entourage effect impacts the human brain. They used electroencephalogram (EEG) machines combined with artificial intelligence to assist in quantifying the psychoactive effects the 28 participants felt when they consumed two cannabis products: a full-spectrum rosin with 85% THC, cannabinoids, and terpenes, and a pure THC oil with potency ranging from 82-85%.
The researchers first got a baseline reading from the participants before the cannabis products were consumed. The EEG then monitored 8 parts of their brain over 90 minutes, and the results were converted into standardized results.
They found that those who consumed full-spectrum live rosin with other cannabinoids and terpenes felt their effects 3 minutes earlier than the other group, and much higher potency during the onset, peak, and 90 minutes after consumption. Additionally, those who consumed pure THC experienced onset around 4 minutes after while the potency decreased slightly after peaking.
The findings validate the entourage effect theory, confirming that cannabis containing an array of other components results in a more therapeutic benefit for patients.
“Consumers looking for psychoactive effects typically shop for cannabis products based on THC, which is a bit of a fallacy,” said PAX Vice President for product development, Brian Witlin. “In the spirit of continuing to advance cannabis research and understanding of the plant – which has been far too limited for much too long – we wanted to demonstrate through scientific study how full spectrum products with the full range of terpenes and cannabinoids have a more profound impact on the onset and ultimate cannabis experience,” Witlin said in a press release. “We hope this type of insight helps consumers understand that shopping for products based on THC percentage alone is not the leading indicator of expected experience,” he added.
“This endeavor not only deepens our comprehension of consumer experiences but also underscores the commitment to providing accurate and comprehensive information to consumers, thereby fostering informed product selection and consumption decisions,” wrote the authors, pointing to how the information can help companies as they create customized products maximizing the benefits of cannabinoids for different patient needs.
There are several other studies that yield similar findings.
In 2021, researchers from the University of Arizona, College of Medicine analyzed the various actions of terpenes in vitro and in vivo, alone as dwell as together with a cannabinoid agonist known as WIN55,212. They found that when the terpenes were administered together with WIN55,212, the analgesic response was far more powerful when compared to either of the substances given individually. In addition, the researchers discovered that the endogenous cannabinoid receptors were receptive to the terpenes.
“Our findings suggest that these cannabis terpenes are multifunctional cannabimimetic ligands that provide conceptual support for the entourage effect hypothesis and could be used to enhance the therapeutic properties of cannabinoids,” the authors reported.
“This study is thus the first to show that terpenes and cannabinoids can produce an additive effect when combined. This study is also the first to identify the CB1 and A2a receptors as terpene targets and describe the role of these receptors in producing terpene cannabimimetic effects in vivo… In principle, this suggests that terpenes could be used to enhance the analgesic properties of cannabis/cannabinoid therapy, without worsening the side effects of cannabinoid treatment,” they concluded.
What This Means For Medical Marijuana Patients
Shopping around for cannabis-based medications may be overwhelming for patients who need to take full advantage of the cannabis plant for its therapeutic effects. But knowing what we know now with the entourage effect, it would be wise to consider using full-spectrum CBD and THC products which are manufactured using all the compounds of the plant. These definitely provide a more powerful experience compared to isolate.
Furthermore, if you are after the benefits of CBD, you can also consider broad-spectrum CBD products which include all the cannabinoids in the plant, except THC. Both broad-spectrum and full-spectrum products are recommended for the entourage effect. When visiting a licensed dispensary, you can also ask the budtender to recommend products with detailed information on lab testing or a certificate of analysis, which indicate the amount or percentage of various compounds within the product.