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Is the Entourage effect real?

What is the Entourage Effect?

The Entourage Effect is a theory that suggests all compounds in cannabis work together to influence your experience, not just tetrahydrocannabinol, or “THC” as it is more commonly known. The other compounds in cannabis, like terpenes and cannabinoids, according to this theory, may influence the psychoactive and physical effects of cannabis despite not being psychoactive.

What does The Entourage Effect feel like?  

“It’s kind of like how your mood might change depending on your social environment. Your mood and the personality you project shift depending on who’s in the room.” 

Bailey Rahn, Leafly

Terpenes Effect in our Daily Life

Terpenes are chemical compounds that create some of our favorite smells, and their effects are present in your life right now without your realizing it.

The chamomile tea you drink to help you sleep? The smell of lavender that you find so relaxing? The truth is in their terpenes: chamomile is high in the terpene bisabolol similar to the strain Ice Cream Cake, and lavender is high in linalool, like the strain Do Si Dos.

We can look to scientific studies and our own experiences to support this theory and understand potential “synergies” between THC, other cannabinoids, and terpenes. 

Scientific Studies of Terpenes and Cannabinoids 

purple cannabis strain

Ethan Russo, MD, is a neurologist and pharmacologist who has studied the relationships between cannabis compounds and the human body. In his article “Taming THC: potential cannabis synergy and phytocannabinoid-terpenoid entourage effects,” Dr. Russo analyzes different strains of cannabis to look for potential “synergies” between compounds.  

One of the strains he analyzes is Grandaddy Purp which is high in myrcene, and caryophyllene. Myrcene is purported to be a helpful sleep aid while caryophyllene may reduce pain, making it a potentially useful strain for people looking to both reduce pain and get a good night’s sleep. 

While very few terpenes in cannabis have been studied at a clinical level, the few that have support the theory that terpenes can affect our mood. For example, one study found that terpenes calmed mice that exhibited anxiety-like behavior (Li Y.J et al., 2011). In the article, The Entourage Effect: Terpenes Coupled with Cannabinoids for the Treatment of Mood Disorders and Anxiety Disorders (Current Neuropharmacology V. 21), the authors note thatstandardized essential oils (such as that of Lavender officinalis) have been shown to exert clinical efficacy in treating anxiety disorders.”

The authors reference that terpenes contribution to our experience and effect on cannabinoids (like THC and CBD) may be important but has not yet been clinically verified. However, cannabinoids themselves are also an important consideration when searching for effect-specific cannabis experiences. The cannabinoid CBD, for example, when found in high quantities with THC has been found to reduce cannabis-induced anxiety.

Dr. Russo discusses this further in his review Taming THC, which suggests that taking THC and CBD together with other cannabis compounds present can be more effective than THC or CBD are alone. In Dr. Russos 2011 review for the British Journal of Pharmacology, he references an earlier publication, “A tale of two cannabinoids”, stating, CBD modulates the psychoactivity of THC and reduces its adverse event profile.” (Russo and Guy, 2006) 

Venn Diagram, Title is Cannabis, center of diagram reads, "The Entourage Effect" the left side reads "terpenes, listing linalool, pinene, caryophyllene, myrcene." The right side reads "cannabinoids, and lsits THC, CBD, CBN, CBG, and THCV." Below the diagram reads "Cannabinoids and terpenes both influence our cannabis experience, this theory is called the "Entourage Effect"."

The “adverse event” is cannabisinduced anxiety and studies have found that CBD reduces the unwanted anxiety from THC consumption. This analysis can lead us to the conclusion that cannabinoids certainly play an important role when consuming cannabis and that terpenes may as well.

Testing the Entourage Effect

If we can study and recognize terpenes effects on mood in the form of herbal teas and essential oils, we can also begin to question whether terpenes influence our experience with cannabis.  

In order to achieve and test the theory of the Entourage Effect stop focusing solely on THC content. Try focusing your attention on terpenes and Total Active Cannabinoids (TAC %) to test the “Entourage Effect” theory for yourself.  

REFERENCES

Li, Y.-J., Xuan, H.-Z., Shou, Q.-Y., Zhan, Z.-G., Lu, X., & Hu, F.-L. (2011). Therapeutic effects of propolis essential oil on anxiety of restraint-stressed mice. Human & Experimental Toxicology, 31(2), 157–165. https://doi.org/10.1177/0960327111412805

Rahn, B. (2022, August 17). The entourage effect: How cannabis compounds may be working together. Leafly. https://www.leafly.com/news/cannabis-101/cannabis-entourage-effect-why-thc-and-cbd-only-medicines-arent-g

Russo, E. B. (2011). TAMING THC: Potential cannabis synergy and phytocannabinoid-terpenoid entourage effects. British Journal of Pharmacology, 163(7), 1344–1364. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1476-5381.2011.01238.x

Ferber SG;Namdar D;Hen-Shoval D;Eger G;Koltai H;Shoval G;Shbiro L;Weller A; (n.d.). The “entourage effect”: Terpenes coupled with cannabinoids for the treatment of mood disorders and anxiety disorders. Current neuropharmacology. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/31481004/

 

 

Information contained is provided by Staff of High Hopes Cannabis dispensary and is for educational purposes only. This should not be taken as medical advice.

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