Chances are, you already know the most famous components of cannabis: tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). But the cannabis plant is made up of thousands of different compounds.
According to a theory called the “entourage effect,” all these compounds work together to produce a uniquely beneficial effect. Instead of taking CBD or THC alone, research shows that consuming a product with all of its parts — including terpenes — could deliver improved benefits.
Let’s explore the science behind this phenomenon, as well as how you can use it to get the most out of your cannabis experience.
The Science of the Entourage Effect
With the entourage effect, the cannabis plant’s trichomes, cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids interact in different ways. When these compounds combine, they produce a unique effect.
For example, THC and CBD may work together to produce a different effect than just THC alone. But there are also dozens of other cannabinoids involved, like CBN, CBC, CBG, and more. The entourage effect also includes terpenes, the compounds that give each cannabis strain its distinct aroma.
The entourage effect is something that needs further study. But early research suggests that mixing different compounds can even improve the health benefits of cannabinoids.
In a 2010 study, cancer patients were given pure THC extra or an extract with equal amounts of THC and CBD. The patients given the combined THC and CBD reported having less pain. Studies also show that when CBD is present at higher levels than THC, it lessens the psychoactive effect, making the experience feel less intoxicating.
It isn’t just THC and other cannabinoids that play a role in the entourage effect. Terpenes are just as important. They can alter the way CBD binds to receptors in the endocannabinoid system, or even produce their own effect similar to CBD. A 2021 study found that terpenes could enhance the pain-relieving effects of cannabinoids when applied together. Another 2018 meta-analysis found that pure CBD extracts were less effective in reducing seizures in epilepsy patients than extracts that included a mixture of cannabinoids and terpenes.
How to Enjoy the Entourage Effect
If you want to experience the entourage effect for yourself, the best way to do it is with flower. With pure cannabis flower, you’re getting everything the plant has to offer, from terpenes to cannabinoids.
Products like concentrates, tinctures, and edibles are also sources of full plant extract. Just be sure to look for products advertised as “whole plant” or “full spectrum” — some may be made of distilled THC, which won’t provide the synergistic effect of the other compounds.
To enjoy the best results with the entourage effect, here are a few ways to enhance your experience:
- Set up your space for a cannabis session, including music, aromatherapy, and comfortable seating arrangements
- Make it a solo experience or surround yourself with friends, depending on your mood
- Enjoy a more rounded experience by practicing other activities, like yoga, coloring, or watching a movie
- Combine your cannabis with other supplements like ashwagandha, damiana, and chamomile
Making the Most of the Entourage Effect
The entourage effect might still be a theory, but the research so far is promising. As our understanding of cannabis continues to grow, so do the opportunities to discover more beneficial effects on the body.
If you want to explore everything the entourage effect has to offer, make sure you’re doing it with premium cannabis. At Harbor House Collective, everything is carefully selected for quality and crafted with care. Visit us in person or browse our selection online.