You think you already know everything there is to know about cannabis, but you find out you still don’t. Every now and then, you would be scratching your head because a new term pops up and it’s something you have never encountered before.
Well, such is the case when we read about the “entourage effect.”
What is the entourage effect?
The entourage effect theorizes that some compounds or cannabinoids found in cannabis only affect the human body when they are combined with other compounds.
This isn’t really surprising, considering that medical researchers have actually identified nearly 500 chemical components in cannabis. This includes 66 compounds that are unique to the cannabis plants. Experts, however, still have to figure out how these components work together and produce different reactions.
The entourage effect is somewhat related to the synergy effect, but it is a different concept. Synergism states that for the components of herbal medicine to “synergize,” the effects of at least two components when combined need to be magnified.
Synergism explains why vitamins are less beneficial in isolation than when you eat vegetables and fruits that contain different kinds of vitamins and antioxidants together.
For the entourage effect to take place, isolated components should have no noticeable benefit in treating a particular medical condition. However, when a component is combined with others that also have no discernible benefits on their own, the advantage is palpable.
Scientists believe that the entourage effect is the reason why cannabis can be really effective in the treatment of certain conditions while synthetic THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) or synthetic CBD (cannabidiol) medications can only achieve limited success for some people. Evidence suggests that while certain cannabinoids appear inert, they can potentially produce very tangible benefits if they work in tandem with other cannabinoids.
The effect of CBD on THC is one perfect example of the entourage effect. For one, research found that CBD, together with other cannabinoids, effectively reduced the psychoactive effects of THC. This explains why THC-only formulations eliminate certain health benefits expected from cannabis in general.
So, for others, the term “entourage effect” more specifically refers to the concept or proposed mechanism by which cannabinoids that are, by themselves, largely non-psychoactive modulate marijuana’s overall psychoactive effects — which result mainly from the action of the main psychoactive component THC.
Pharmaceutical companies are using the entourage effect concept in reformulating THC-only medications to include a good measure of CBD. As a result, you get a cannabis product that can achieve greater therapeutic benefits and at the same time reduce the adverse effects of THC in isolation.