Is the Cannabis entourage effect real or a myth?
Cannabis is a complex plant with hundreds of compounds that create the plant we all came to love so dearly. Throughout my own personal research, I have found many references to the “entourage effect”. The entourage effect essentially means that cannabinoids work together to create a superior health effect or at the very minimal, changes the “high” of the strain you’re smoking.
While for many of us stoners who actually experience cannabis first-hand can attest to this, there are those who are not so sure that the entourage effect even exists.
Today we’ll be talking about two camps of cannabis thought; those that believe in the entourage and those that don’t.
Let’s hear the Nay-Sayers!
According to some scientists, they don’t believe in the entourage effect. For instance, Margaret Haney, a neurobiologist at Columbia University and cannabis researcher says that the notion of the entourage effect is more ‘hearsay’ than something scientific.
The reason she believes this, is due to the fact that there hasn’t been any real research into this phenomenon known as the entourage effect and most people speak anecdotally about the effects of cannabis.
According to Haney, she has only seen evidence against the entourage effect. In her own studies, she directly compared the effects of “plant marijuana” with oral THC formations such as Marinol and according to her study, found that there was virtually no difference.
However, it must be noted that if Haney is conducting research at Columbia, she would only be allowed to use Federally sanctioned cannabis, which is not remotely even close to the current industry standard.
Her goal was to see whether Marinol was a “bad drug” and according to her studies, it works for pain, appetite and nausea.
Yet as mentioned above, the research being done on cannabis in Federally sanctioned universities cannot use cannabis from the “industry”, meaning the THC count is below 10%, the genetics are the exact same as it has been for the past 50 years. This may be a reason why there is a discrepancy in her studies, however I admittedly do not know her processes, nor her methods so my conclusion on this is purely speculative at this moment.
Let’s hear those who support the Entourage Effect
The foremost scientist believing in the entourage effect has been studying cannabis for more than forty years. Ethan Russo, a psychopharmacologist at Washington State and medical director of the biochemical research company “Phytecs”. It’s important to note that Russo actually worked at GW Pharmaceuticals who created Sativex.
According to Russo, roughly 10 milligrams of THC can potentially cause toxic psychosis or THC-induced, psychotic like symptoms such as delusions in about 40% of the people. However, when you add CBD to the mix, they found that only four out of 250 patients presented these symptoms. According to him, this is a major indicator to the synergy of cannabinoids and how they counter-balance the effects.
He has studied the subject matter in depth and in one example he talks about the alpha pinene- a terpene that gives cannabis that pine scent, which could be responsible for preserving a molecule called acetylcholine, which deals with memory formation. Essentially, the mind gaps you get from cannabis can potentially be counteracted with the presence of pinene.
While Russo admits there is a definite lack in cannabis literature in a scientific context, he remains firm in his belief of the entourage effect. He says that for 40 years he has known of the differences between various strains. They have a different smell, taste and even a different effect.
What about the Cannabis Community?
Are we all just believing a blissful non-truth about the cannabis effect, or is it something real. From personal experience, I have smoked different strains and felt different effects. I’m sure there are many of you who have experienced the exact same thing.
Could it be that we’re all just feeling the “placebo effect” when it comes to these different effects or are we on to something?
If all cannabis is the same, then why does a heavy indica knock you to the couch and a Sativa strain will pick you up? I have already gone thoroughly through the medical benefits of certain terpenes in a past article and to ignore the medical efficacy of these terpenes might be a mistake for researchers at places like Columbia.
Of course, even the naysayers are requesting for more research because as of now there is no definitive scientific consensus on the entourage effect. However, as an avid smoker for more than twenty years, I know for a fact that certain cannabis acts differently than other cannabis. It could be all in my mind, but I highly doubt it.