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The Entourage Effect Explained

If you are a medical cannabis patient, then you know how powerfully effective your cannabis product can be for pain, mood elevation, inflammation, and so much more.

But have you ever wondered how cannabis works in the body to produce such powerful effects? A lot of it has to do with what is called the “entourage effect (EE).” Knowing a little bit about the entourage effect (EE) can empower you to choose the right cannabis product for your unique situation. 

What is the entourage effect? 

The entourage effect is the process in which all the phytonutrients in a cannabis plant work together for optimum performance within the endocannabinoid system. The endocannabinoid system is a subtle “helping” system that interacts with endogenously-produced “endocannabinoids” as well as reinforcing cannabinoids within cannabis to positively add support to every other system in the body. 

The EE is actually a natural process of synergy between substances that occurs within all whole foods. It was discovered by visionary cannabis researchers S. Ben-Shabat and Raphael Mechoulam of Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Israel over 20 years ago. Mechoulam and Shabat observed that when every phytonutrient within a single cannabis plant was both available and freely being expressed, then all of these phytonutrients worked together to affect profound and often specific kinds of healing. 

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How cannabinoids and terpenes work together

The cannabis plant contains between 400-500 different phytonutrients. Besides cannabinoids, of which there may be several kinds besides THC and CBD, there are also terpenes as well as flavonoids, fatty acids, vitamin and mineral substances, anti-inflammatory agents, antioxidants, and detoxifiers like chlorophyll, and more. All of these agents play a vital role in creating the effects that you have come to rely on for relief. 

One of the most important phytonutrients in cannabis are terpenes. A terpene is an “aromatic compound” (also called an “ester”). It is the substance that gives plants their unique “odor.” Most terpenes are also strong antioxidants and anti-fungal/anti-bacterial agents that can have a subtle yet profound effect on mood, nervous system health, inflammatory levels, and immunity. Some terpenes have even been found to contain specific disease-preventing agents. Examples of common terpenes that can be found in cannabis include pinene, limonene, linalool, and caryophyllene, just to name a few. 

Because their molecular size is very small, terpenes have the ability to pass through the blood-brain barrier. Terpenes are vital for the full expression of the entire cannabis plant. Each plant contains a unique combination of one or more terpenes which work synergistically with cannabinoids and other phytonutrients. In research, when THC or CBD is extracted to create synthetic versions of these particular substances, they tend to not have the same potent effect as when cannabis is used “full spectrum.” This is especially the case for those who are suffering from serious conditions such as MS. (1) 

Myrcene is good example of a terpene that is found in many cannabis varieties, such as OG Kush, Tangie, Harlequin, and Blue Dream.  

This particular terpene has been in the spotlight lately as scientists discover its particular relationship with cannabinoids. It has been found to help THC in particular, but can also help CBD, CBG, and other cannabinoids to be more fully expressed in the body. (2) 

Myrcene is also “monoterpene.” It lays the foundation for the creation of all other terpenes and has been shown to be a powerful anti-inflammatory as well as an anti-aging, pain relieving, calming agent in its own right. It can help with relaxation, sleep, mood, immune system boosting, and relief from pain. (3) 

THC and CBD ratios

Another vital component to consider when looking at the entourage effect is how it can help you is to consider “ratio” cannabis products. “Ratio” usually means the amount of THC available in a particular plant in comparison to how much CBD, CBG, or other cannabinoid are in it. For example, a strain that contains a 1:1 THC to CBD ratio would have the same amount of THC as CBD. A 2:1 THC to CBD ratio would have twice as much THC as CBD. 

Knowing the ratio of THC to CBD (and other cannabinoids as listed) in your product is important because different ratios are going to have different effects on the body. For example, a high THC content (2:1 for example) will more than likely be associated with high psychoactive activity while a ratio of 1:1 or even 1:2 CBD, CBG, or other non-psychoactive cannabinoid may help to calm, relax and deal with pain or other symptoms in a more subtle way. Many people prefer cannabis ratio products since they can give them the freedom to more closely monitor psychoactive effects. 

Your health needs are unique and so is your reason for using medical cannabis. Our best advice if you are just starting out is to connect with one of the WholesomeCo expert pharmacists for a FREE “Cannabis Curious” consult

If you have been using medical cannabis for a while but are feeling that a different variety or ratio would be good for you at this time, you can also sign up for a consult to get the advice you may need to make the switch. 

The health impacts of the entourage effect 

The entourage effect is being studied now more than ever as scientists, doctors, and patients alike discover how important it is for achieving the most health benefits from medical cannabis. In fact, in 2020, cannabis researcher Dr. Ziva Cooper of the UCLA Cannabis Research Center was awarded close to 4 million dollars by the U.S. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH). The grant was given specifically for Dr. Cooper’s investigations into how terpenes interact with THC and other cannabinoids to offer alternatives to opioids for those who suffer from severe, chronic pain. (4) 

Other research is taking place on other fronts as well. Research conducted at Harvard University in 2019 discovered that certain flavonoids can interact with THC and CBD in cannabis to help stop the spread of pancreatic cancer tumors. Flavonoids are phytonutrients that provide color for plants, fruits, and vegetables, amongst other things. (5) 

At the same time, researchers at the University of Guadalajara in Mexico are diving into the terpene β-Caryophyllene and how it, in combination with cannabinoids, can help people with depression. (6) 

How can I take advantage of the entourage effect in Utah? 

In the state of Utah, cannabis can legally be consumed in the following ways: 

You can take advantage of the entourage effect whenever you utilize whole cannabis flower, a ratio product, or any full spectrum cannabis product available at WholesomeCo.  Be sure to also take advantage of our delivery service within the greater Salt Lake City area and throughout the state. 

The best way to find out which product is right for you and how you can best take advantage of the entourage effect is to sign up for a FREE “Cannabis Curious” consult. Our helpful, friendly professional pharmacists are standing by so book your appointment today. 




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