The entourage effect creates synergistic benefits between cannabinoids and terpenes in hemp oil products.
A common term when researching medical cannabis is the “entourage effect” – referring to the potential multiplying of effects that is theorized to take place when full-spectrum cannabis oil is used.
In addition to the major cannabinoids like THC and CBD, full-spectrum – also known as whole plant – cannabis oil contains over 400 active compounds in trace levels or higher that are used by the body.
While many people wrongly think that only high-THC marijuana can provide the entourage effect, today we will show how hemp, another member of the cannabis family, can provide this same whole plant entourage effect.
What is the Entourage Effect?
The term entourage effect was first introduced in cannabinoid science in 1998 by S. Ben-Shabat, along with noted cannabis researcher Raphael Mechoulam, to represent a potential enhancing effect that takes place when a full-spectrum of cannabinoids and terpenes is consumed.
In discussing this new theory, the researchers add credit to the use of full-spectrum cannabis products, saying, “This type of synergism may play a role in the widely held (but not experimentally based) view that in some cases plants are better drugs than the natural products isolated from them.”
While CBD, along with THC, has become a major topic in the use of cannabis products, the idea that other cannabinoids, terpenoids, and other compounds in cannabis may also contribute to its beneficial effects has been coined as the entourage effect.
Besides the major cannabinoids (THC and CBD), cannabis oils derived from different hemp and marijuana plants may also contain minor trace cannabinoids – like tetrahydrocannabivarin (THCV), cannabigerol (CBG), cannabichromene (CBC), cannabinol (CBN), and cannabidiolic acid (CBDA) to name just a few of the over 100 cannabinoids present in cannabis.
Many of these cannabinoids have already been demonstrated to possess certain health and wellness benefits. The theory of the entourage effect postulates that when used in combination, these cannabinoids are able to work synergistically to enhance these effects.
What Else Contributes to the Entourage Effect?
However, it isn’t just the cannabinoids that may help create the entourage effect. Terpenes like limonene, myrcene, pinene, humulene, linalool, beta-caryophyllene, and others may also lend their beneficial properties to the overall effects of a cannabinoid routine.
Terpenes, known as terpenoids when oxidized, share a common molecular precursor with phytocannabinoids and evidence shows they can also interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system. Terpenes are highly bioavailable, some up to 70 percent, making them readily usable by the human body.
Over 200 terpenes have been reported so far in the cannabis plant, and many potentially display unique beneficial effects that may contribute meaningfully to the entourage effects of cannabis-based medicinal extracts. Many terpenes and cannabinoids act as either antagonists or agonists of endocannabinoid receptors and seem to work together in a range of synergistic ways on this system of neurotransmitters.
In his paper detailing the entourage effects, Dr. E.B. Russo states, “Considered ensemble, the preceding body of information supports the concept that selective breeding of cannabis chemotypes rich in ameliorative phytocannabinoid and terpenoid content offer complementary pharmacological activities that may strengthen and broaden clinical applications and improve the therapeutic index of cannabis extracts containing THC, or other base phytocannabinoids.”
In other words, Russo reveals that full-spectrum cannabis products may be more effective than isolated cannabinoids taken alone. He further backs up this claim in his later work. In another article published by Russo, he quotes research that hinted that full-spectrum cannabis extracts caused effects two to four times greater than THC alone. In the same piece, another study found that full-spectrum cannabis produced effects 330 percent higher than THC alone.
Can Hemp Oil Provide the Entourage Effect?
Yes! Just like oil extracted from the marijuana plant, oil extracted from hemp also contains many cannabinoids, flavonoids, and terpenes, as well as essential vitamins and minerals, fatty acids, fiber, protein, and chlorophyll. All these components, when taken as a complete product, make hemp oil a complete supplement and encourage the entourage effect.
While there are trace amounts of a number of cannabinoids in hemp, the primary compounds are cannabidiolic acid (CBDa) and cannabidiol (CBD). CBDa is more abundant in live hemp than CBD, and to get high levels of CBD in hemp oil products, raw hemp oil must be decarboxylated in a process that heats the oil, changing CBDa into CBD. Both CBDa and CBD have been shown to possess a range of benefits through its interaction with the body’s native endocannabinoid system. CBD, CBDa, and the rest of the cannabinoids present in hemp work in tandem when absorbed into the bloodstream.
Additionally, extracted hemp oil contains an extensive list of naturally occurring vitamins, including vitamins A, C, and E. Also present are B complex vitamins like riboflavin, thiamine, and niacin. Hemp further contains vitamins that are not sufficiently present in most modern diets, like beta carotene, helping users gain the nutrients they need to maintain health. Hemp oil is likewise a source of minerals like zinc, potassium, calcium, phosphorous, iron, and magnesium.
Protein in your diet is essential in the receiving of amino acids, but it’s important that we obtain protein from the right sources. Eating even small amounts of red meat has been warned against by health officials. Instead, essential amino acids can be obtained through sources like hemp, which contains all 20 amino acids – including the 9 essential amino acids our body can’t make on its own.
The one fat you can never get enough of is Omega 3, but modern diets typically use other, less healthy fats. While both Omega 3 and 6 fatty acids are essential to human health, they should ideally be consumed at a close ratio of around 3:1. Eating the right kind of Omega 6 fatty acids, like gamma linolenic acid (GLA), a plant based Omega 6 fatty acid found in hemp at the 3:1 ratio suggested, can reduce the negative effects of high fat diets.
The cannabinoids in hemp oil work together in the entourage effect to provide their balancing effects, while the many nutrients present supplement our deficient modern diets. Contemporary fast food diets high in unhealthy fats largely fail in supplying the vitamins and minerals our bodies need each day, making dietary supplements with these nutrients critical in maintaining a healthy balance. Hemp oil contains a complex mix of cannabinoids, essential nutrients, healthy fats, protein, and fiber, making it a unique choice in daily use supplements.
When viewed as a complete dietary supplement, we begin to see the value of CBD hemp oil beyond being a source of CBD. The bioactive compounds found in hemp oil work together to provide health and wellness benefits and to stimulate the endocannabinoid system.