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The Entourage Effect: The Synergy of Cannabis

Updated: Jul 20, 2021

The entourage effect is the theory that various cannabis compounds, such as THC, CBD and many other natural chemicals, work together synergistically to create unique effects and benefits of cannabis use.

When we smoke or vaporize cannabis, our bodies take in hundreds of botanical compounds. Each compound arrives with unique effects and benefits; their behavior may change in the presence of other cannabis compounds.

A simple example of the entourage effect would be the combination of THC & CBD versus pure THC or CBD. In a 2010 study, patients with cancer pain were given either a pure THC extract or an extract containing near-equal levels of both THC and CBD - patients given the THC and CBD. The patients that were given the THC/CBD combo reported having less pain.

Cannabis is far more than just THC and CBD.

It also produces other cannabinoids, the chemical compounds secreted by cannabis flowers that provide relief to an array of symptoms including pain, nausea, anxiety and inflammation. There are dozens of cannabinoids, including CBN, CBC, and CBG. In addition to cannabinoids, there are also terpenes found in the cannabis plant. Terpenes are aromatic oils that color cannabis varieties with distinctive flavors like citrus, berry, mint and pine. The combination of cannabinoids and terpenes is what creates the synergistic entourage effect.

An example of Dr.Russo's findings on the entourage effect include the combination of cannabinoids CBD and CBG. It has been found that this cannabinoid combination can inhibit the bacterial staph infection MRSA; when adding the terpene Pinene the combination becomes even more effective, as Pinene increases skins permeability. It is the combination of the cannabinoids CBD, CBG and the terpene Pinene that work synergistically to fight the spread of MRSA.

Are you struggling with discomfort and pain at night while trying to sleep?

Another great example of synergy and the entourage effect is with the strain: Granddaddy Purple. This strain of cannabis contains cannabinoids and terpenes: THC, Myrcene, Caryophyllene and Pinene. These chemical compounds work together to having a synergistic effect on consumer; helping with both sleep, pain and inflammation. The Myrcene is what helps with sleep, Caryophyllene and THC help with pain and inflammation.

Dr. Ethan Russo has discovered a few more potential synergies of cannabis compounds which include:

  • The pine-scented terpene pinene may help counteract compromised memory caused by THC.

  • A combination of CBD and the peppery terpene caryophyllene may be beneficial in the treatment of addiction.

  • CBD and the citrus-scented terpene limonene might work together to alleviate anxiety.

  • THC plus the cannabinoid CBN can potentially yield enhanced sedating effects.

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