In 10 Minutes, We'll Explain All About the ENTOURAGE EFFECT

In 10 Minutes, We'll Explain All About the ENTOURAGE EFFECT

Don't get confused with the T.V. series nor is it a term for a psychedelic trip from the '60s... the name "entourage effect" has been floating around the internet for a while and used in recent research, to explain how using the whole cannabis plant can relieve pain and help curb the opioid crisis.

In simple terms, the "entourage effect" refers to how different cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids work together to offer health benefits that can only be obtained if the whole plant is consumed naturally.

Researchers have tried to identify each cannabinoid's therapeutic value individually. Although this is irresistible to our FDA-driven chemical pharmaceutical culture, it is almost certainly not accurate to say that a cannabinoid alone is responsible for a mechanism. Most medical professionals educated on medicinal cannabis believe that when they work together, cannabinoids work best. This is called the entourage.

According to Chris Emerson (Metta Medical, Seed CX), the phrase refers to cannabis compounds which are supposed to work in conjunction to produce 'the sum of the parts which lead towards the magic or power of cannabis'. Other contributing cannabinoids, terpenoids, and flavonoids were called an "entourage effect" for clinical cannabis effects.

How did the 'Entourage Effect' come about?

In 1998, Israeli scientists Shimon Ben-Shabat and Raphael Mechoulam introduced the concept of the entourage effect. The theory is that cannabinoids in the cannabis plant work together as part of a larger organism through a network of casual relationships and influence the body in a mechanism similar to the endocannabinoid system of the body. These connections work better in principle than in isolation.

In the 1980s, Dr Marilyn Barrett PhD and her team identified two diprenylated flavonoids - Cannaflavine A and B. In June 1985, Barrett published her findings. Cannaflavin A was found 30 times more efficient than aspirin in the studies produced. While both Cannaflavin B and Cannaflavin C were not isolated until 2013, no further research on their medicinal effect or value has yet been published.

Cannabis contains hundreds of different therapeutic compounds, most of which are removed from the use of products containing cannabinoid isolates, such as CBD products only. This does not mean that CBD alone is not, because it is actually beneficial in many other ways, i.e. to treat patients with only one compound in specific cases. There are many cases in which a patient can benefit from the synergy of medicine as a whole.

So for reference, let’s quickly cover what each of these compounds are;

  • Cannabinoids: natural compounds which interact with the endocannabinoid system in mammals, such as THC( tetrahydrocannabinol), CBD( cannabidiol), CBN( cannabinol), etc.
  • Terpenes: a varied group of organic compounds that have their specific fragrances in most plants.
  • Flavonoids: These are essential antioxidants which give their pigments to plants and which attract pollinators. They are known as cannaflavins in cannabis.

Neurologist Ethan B. Russo, M.D, explains how each part of the plant, from the dominant cannabinoid to even trace amounts of terpenes, matters. Each compound in the plant has a particular role and all influences the mechanisms of each other when consumed together.

Terpene myrcene, for example, can help to reduce resistance in the blood-brain barrier that makes it easier for other cannabinoids to access the central nervous system. Two terpenes commonly found in citrus fruits, Linalool and limonene - are promising in the management of MRSA (Staphylococcus aureus methicillin-resistant) symptoms in combination with CBG (cannabigerol).

Linalool - a naturally occurring aromatic terpene found in many flowers and spices including lavender and coriander - can also contribute to the "entourage effect" by modulating neurotransmitter glutamate and GABA systems to produce sedative and anxiolytic effects.

Is "Entourage Effect" Scientifically Valid?

Although in the cannabis industry and among consumers the idea of the "entourage effect" has taken root, the concept is frequently based on conjecture and anecdotal evidence since it lacks a strict scientific basis.

Typical cannabis strains found in dispensaries these days are bred primarily for unnaturally high THC levels. High CBD strains can also be found, but even these are a little harder to pass. The absence of diversity in chemical profiles means that patients lack the surrounding effect and that all these compounds can play a potentially important role in general health.

Hopefully, we can soon find strains that incorporate more of these essential characteristics, and patients can honestly feel the effects of cannabis medicine in whole plants.