The term “entourage effect” is a common buzzword in the cannabis world. But what does that even mean?
According to Leafly, a world renowned online cannabis encyclopedia, the entourage effect is best described as this: “When we smoke or vaporize cannabis, our bodies take in hundreds of botanical compounds. Each one arrives with unique effects and benefits, and their behavior may change in the presence of other compounds. This is the entourage effect.” (Rahn)
These botanical compounds include two major cannabis components essential for creating the “entourage effect”: Cannabinoids and Terpenes.
What is a cannabinoid?
Cannabinoids are chemical compounds found specifically within the cannabis plant. The two major cannabinoids found within cannabis are:
CBD, which stands for cannabidiol, is found in larger percentages within the hemp plant. It is a cannabinoid that is known for its therapeutic properties without producing a high. It’s been reported to help with a wide range of issues from inflammation to depression.
THC, which stands for tetrahydrocannabinol, is responsible for the notorious "high" feeling you get from using cannabis. It is found in larger percentages within the marijuana plant. You can learn more about the difference between hemp and marijuana HERE.
What is a terpene?
Terpenes are aromatic compounds found within plants (and some insects) that give them their flavor and smell. Terpenes have long been used in Ancient Eastern medicine. Plants and herbs get some of their unique smells and flavors from these molecular compounds known as terpenes. It’s what gives cannabis strains their unique taste and smell profiles.
Want to learn more about Terpenes? Visit our blog “What Are Terpenes?”
The Entourage Effect Overview
There are some researchers who not only believe that the presence of multiple plant compounds can alter the effectiveness of the cannabinoids present, but that the therapeutic benefits of a specific cannabinoid can actually be expanded!
Think about it this way, imagine you’re at a sporting event and one person starts chanting “Defense”. No one on the field can hear this one man’s chant, but the more he chants the more people join in with his “Defense'' when suddenly enough people are chanting with him that it can clearly be heard by the players on the field. Each cannabinoid is one voice but when you get enough of them together, the real magic happens.
Just like a stadium full of people can positively or negatively affect the teams competing on the field, cannabinoids work together to communicate with your Endocannabinoid System. Cannabinoids are not the only fans in the stands though. Terpenes also play a major function within our endocannabinoid system and sing the same praises as the many different cannabinoids do.
The Entourage Effect in Cannabis Strains
If you’ve ever been to a dispensary or bought marijuana, you know they can sometimes have funny names like Gorilla Glue or Blue Dream. While their funny names can leave a lasting impression they are alway categorized as being:
- or indica
These three classifications can give you a general idea of what the particular strain benefits and effects might have.
Each strain can have different effects on the mind and body depending on the terpene content. Each strain looks and acts very different from one another. Not all cannabis is created equally and the major difference between them comes from the terpenes present in each strain in addition to the cannabinoid profile.
Although cannabinoids get most of the attention (looking at you CBD & THC) their effectiveness and efficiency can be tied back to the presence of minor cannabinoids found within a strain as well as each strain's unique terpene profile.
Popular Cannabis Sativa Strain: Lemon Haze
Lemon Haze gets its name from the strong lemon aromas and flavors this strain possesses. It’s known for its energizing effects given by the high amounts of Limonene terpenes found within the plant. It also boasts other terpenes such as, Myrcene, Pinene, Caryophyllene, and terpinolene. Lemon haze has a cannabinoid profile that is typically higher in CBD than THC. This makes the strain less likely to give a person anxiety and when working with unison of the terpenes, sends its user into a euphoric state.
Popular Cannabis Hybrid Strain: Pineapple Express
Pineapple Express is a hybrid strain that gained major traction in the wake of the blockbuster comedy hit from 2008 “Pineapple Express” starring Seth Rogan and James Franco. This strain is known for its uplifting and euphoric effects making it a great strain for social situations or people looking to feel elevated. The terpene profile comprises limonene, pinene, humulene, ocimene, linalool, myrcene, caryophyllene, and terpinolene. It is known to have a THC level above 22% and a CBD content of 1% or less.
Popular Cannabis Indica Strain: Purple Punch
Typically when you hear strain names that have Blue and Purple colors attached to them, you are talking about an Indica strain. The color characteristics can give a hint as to what effect the strain may have. Purple’s and Blues in the cannabis plant typical lean towards being a sedative type strain. This is in large part the entourage effect between the cannabinoids and terpenes found within them. Indica strains often have higher amounts of myrcene in them. Purple Punch is no exception; it has one of the highest amounts of myrcene, among 20+ other terpenes. The other most prevalent terpenes are, linalool, humulene, limonene, and valencene. Given this strains wide range in terpenes and high amounts of THC with low amounts of CBD its effects can “put you in the couch” creating a deep relaxation.
You can see how the presence of specific terpenes in conjunction with varying levels of cannabinoids can create completely different effects on our minds and bodies. It’s important to know what effects you are looking for and to then consult with an experienced bud tender at your local dispensary to pick a strain(s) that will best suit your personal needs.
Cannabis is not a one size fits all, so it might take some trial and error in finding the right strains for you. For true entourage effects, it is best to switch between multiple strains that perhaps have a similar dominant profile, but differ in minor cannabinoids and terpenes. This allows you to get the benefits or as many minor cannabinoids as possible.
The Entourage Effect in CBD products
When you’re trying to get the most out of your CBD product, it is important to look for a full spectrum or broad spectrum product. To learn more about the types of CBD, check out our blog HERE
Full Spectrum CBD
A Full Spectrum CBD product is derived from the whole hemp plant matter. That means taking the roots, stems, flowers and leaves and pressing, pulverizing, or power washing them to extract the oils from the plant. This will leave us with a full spectrum of cannabinoids (CBD, CBG, CBN, THC, etc.), terpenes (limonene, myrcene, etc.) and phytochemicals such as chlorophyll and other organic plant matter. The resulting oil will have a strong “hempy” taste and be dark in color. It will also contain 0.3% or less THC. Please keep in mind that using a Full Spectrum Product could potentially cause you to fail a drug screen. If you’re being tested for any reason, we recommend choosing a Broad Spectrum product.
Broad Spectrum CBD
A Broad Spectrum CBD product is created from the same process as the full spectrum CBD product by taking the roots, stems, flower, and leaves. The difference is, after extraction, the THC compound is separated and removed entirely. This still leaves us with a great range of cannabinoids beyond CBD. A true broad spectrum will have no trace amounts of THC but will give you an otherwise full cannabinoid profile which will include CBD, CBG, CBN, CBDV, and other potential cannabinoids, allowing you to maintain the “entourage effect”.
The entourage effect can directly benefit the type of experience you will have with all types of cannabis products for more information, reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can walk you through the best product suited for you.