What is the Entourage Effect?
The entourage effect describes the cumulative effect that the compounds (Cannabinoids, Terpenes, and Flavonoids) found in Cannabis have on our bodies. The theory is that ‘the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.’
With apologies to Shakespeare
“To isolate or not to isolate…that is the question?”
The founding father of THC (Raphael Mechoulam – Professor of Medicinal Chemistry at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in Israel) is a firm believer in and advocate of the entourage effect.
This concept, along with the Herbalist tradition, postulates that the ‘whole plant’ is necessary for ensuring maximum effectiveness.
Advancements in technology mean that we are increasingly able to isolate each component of the Cannabis plant. These isolates are reformulated into medical preparations targeting specific problems. While this benefits the Pharmaceutical industry in that it increases the consistency of the product, many argue that it is the ‘natural’ combination of these elements that offer the best healing properties.
The Endocannabinoid System: Do All Humans have Cannabinoid Receptors?
The endogenous cannabinoid system exists throughout the human body. It combines receptors (CB1 and CB2) that help maintain a healthy balance (homeostasis). They are turned on and off (agonized on antagonized) through engagement with Cannabinoids produced inside the body (ENDO-cannabinoids).
The fascinating part is that the Cannabinoids produced in the Cannabis plant (Phyto-Cannabinoids) can also bind with our receptors, allowing us to increase or decrease their response times and intensity.
Individual Cannabinoids and Terpene have a specific effect, and in combination, the possibilities are almost limitless. We are in the process of mapping the multitude of Cannabinoids and Terpenes to their respective impact on our minds and bodies.
Cannabinoids, Terpenes, and Flavonoids: Natural Healing Partnerships
Cannabis plants have biosynthetic pathways (converting substrates into more complex structures) that create cannabinoid acids. Through a process known as decarboxylation (the removal of a carbon atom – through heat), these acids convert into Cannabinoids. The best-known cannabinoids are THC (Psychoactive) and CBD (non-psychoactive).
Terpenes are arguably the largest and most diverse naturally occurring organic compounds. We tend to identify them by their smell, and it may be helpful to think of Terpenes as the ‘essential oils of a plant.
Technically, terpenes are organic compounds built from hydrocarbon building blocks called isoprenes. Terpenes exist in most plants and many mammals. Some of the most common include Limonene (Citrus fruit peels) and Pinene (fresh pine cones).
Flavonoids give foods and beverages color and provide antioxidants and other benefits. Flavonoids may play a role in preventing chronic diseases like cancer, heart disease, or diabetes.
Flavonoids are a group of phytonutrients found in fruits, vegetables, and herbs. Flavonoids give foods and beverages color and provide antioxidants.
These plant-based compounds have been associated with many health benefits and play a role in preventing chronic diseases like cancer, heart disease, or diabetes.
When you eat fruits or vegetables that contain flavonoids, they will be metabolized into small molecules that bind to receptors in your body.
There are a few different routes a flavonoid can take once digested:
The flavonoid gets absorbed from the gut and enters the bloodstream
The flavonoid binds to cell receptors outside of the gut
The flavonoid binds to cell receptors inside of the gut
Flavonoids activate enzymes that influence gene expression
Do terpenes get you high?
It is helpful to think of terpenes in terms of Aromatherapy. They have been shown in numerous studies to have direct therapeutic effects. Terpenes tend to play an ensemble role with Cannabinoids and augment the effects. They do not, however, on their own, get you high.
Another one of those odd Cannabis laws; Terpenes from Cannabis containing THC (even though identical to the same terpene in other Cannabis and indeed any other plant) are illegal, while others are deemed legal.
Does broad-spectrum CBD get you high?
It is possible to isolate and extract specific components from the Cannabis plant. CBD, when isolated, is not psychoactive (does not affect a person’s mental state). This non-psychoactivity is a significant point driving CBD isolate products’ legalization (they are considered in the same light as nutraceuticals).
However, things change when we consider broad-spectrum products. These are Cannabis products made from oils extracted from the ‘Whole plant”. They contain the ‘full-spectrum of Cannabinoids and Terpenes of the plant and will almost certainly have some effect on your mental state. This effect can be managed and mitigated by selecting products that have a high CBD to THC ratio.
What ratio of CBD to THC is best?
As always, “Start Low and Go Slow.”
A high ratio, e.g., 20:1, will have almost no discernible associated “high.” However, this ‘rule of thumb’ is general, and each person’s threshold differs.
If you are very concerned about the “high” feeling, starting at 20:1, moving to 5:1, and progressing to 1:1 may work for you.
Scientific Papers: The Amazing Cannabis Entourage Effect