What Exactly Is the Entourage Effect?

We choose to consume cannabis for its wide range of reported benefits and therapies. With that said, the overall high and effects you feel can vary greatly depending on the ratio of plant compounds like Terpenes, Cannabinoids, and Flavonoids. These elements interact with each other and your endocannabinoid system to influence how you feel after smoking. This idea is known as the Entourage Effect and it plays a large role in how particular strains affect each user. 

Read on to learn more about the Entourage Effect, how it influences your high, and how to get the most out of its potential therapeutic benefits. 

What Is the Entourage Effect?

The Entourage Effect by Leafreport

The Entourage Effect is the proposed ability for the different compounds and chemicals in the cannabis plant to work together to produce a well-rounded range of effects within the body. To be more specific, it is the process in which the cannabinoids and terpenes in cannabis interact with each other and your body’s endocannabinoid system. Still confused? We’ll explain in more detail.

This theory of the Entourage Effect was popularized by Dr. Ethan Russo, a pharmacist and neurologist who has long studied the various cannabis compounds and how they interact with the human body. He documented these findings in his book, “Taming THC: potential cannabis synergy and phytocannabinoid-terpenoid entourage effects.” While it’s still just a “theory” the Entourage Effect is gaining recognition with more research and a better understanding of the cannabis plant in general.

How Exactly Does the Entourage Effect Work?

The Entourage Effect Overview by Medical Jane

To better understand the entourage effect, you need to know that cannabis is far more than just THC and CBD. There are 100’s of different cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids with different levels of variation in each and every strain. These chemicals interact with our endocannabinoid receptors located throughout our bodies. This complex cell-signaling system is thought to play a large role in regulating functions like sleep, mood, appetite, memory, and more. 

The Entourage Effect is especially exciting for researchers and pharmacologists who want to study the synergies between the different chemicals in cannabis. For example, the cannabinoids CBD and CBG seem to work together to halt the growth of the bacterial staph infection MRSA. On top of that, the terpene pinene may provide even further defense. This is just one potential benefit of the Entourage Effect and there are believed to be countless more! 

How Do Terpenes Influence the Entourage Effect?

Terpene Diagram by A Green Alternative

Terpenes are natural chemical compounds found in all plants, but especially cannabis. The terpene profile of each individual strain largely determines the overall aroma of the bud. There are over 150 terpenes we know of within the cannabis plant. When consumed in conjunction with the rest of the compounds of the plant, terpenes interact with your endocannabinoid system to enhance the various benefits and effects. 

Read on below to learn more about the 5 most common terpenes in cannabis along with their properties and noted benefits. 

5 Dominant Terpenes in Cannabis 

  • Bisabolol: Bisabolol is a terpene found in fragrant plants and flowers like chamomile. It is known as an anti-inflammatory, anti-irritant, antioxidant, and pain-reliever. 
  • Pinene: Pinene is one of the most abundant terpenes in all of nature, let alone cannabis. Pinene adds a pine scent to the cannabis plant and provides an anti-inflammatory effect.
  • Limonene: Limonene is known for its zesty citrus fragrance found in citrus fruits like lemon, orange, lime, and grapefruit.This particular terpene exhibits anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, and anti-cancer properties. 
  • Linalool: Linalool is a common and beautifully fragrant terpene found in flowers or spices like lavender and coriander. It is well known for its stress-relieving properties confirmed by several different studies.
  • Myrcene: Myrcene is a terpene common in fragrant plants, herbs, and fruits like mangoes, lemongrass, basil, thyme, and of course cannabis. People tend to use this versatile terpene for its anti-inflammatory, pain-relieving, sedative, and antibiotic effects. You’ll likely find high levels of Myrcene in an Indica-leaning strain that makes you particularly sleepy. 

Some additional and slightly lesser-known terpenes include Humulene, Camphene, Borneol, Valencene, and Eucalyptol. 

How Do Cannabinoids Influence the Entourage Effect? 

Cannabinoid Guide by Motagistics

Cannabinoids are additional naturally-forming compounds within the cannabis plant. They are the main factors in producing the varied highs when combined with THC. We don’t exactly know what all the cannabinoids do and how many there are, but the two most popular ones are plain old THC & CBD. Some of the other cannabinoids we know of include CBN, THCA, CBG, and THCV. Some of these compounds like THC are psychoactive whereas CBG and CBD are not. 

Just like terpenes, when combined and consumed in cannabis, cannabinoids interact with each other and the receptors in your brain to influence your high and effects. Not only do individual cannabinoids work with each other, but they also interact with the various terpenes in the strain. 

How to Get the Benefits of the Entourage Effect

High Quality Flower by Lost Coast Lens

The best way to get the full range of benefits from the Entourage Effect is to smoke high-quality flower with all of the beautiful trichomes protected and still attached. That’s because it will still contain all of the essential plant compounds like cannabinoids and terpenes. For example, vape cartridges made with only distillate oil contain pure THC and nothing else. They’ll get you really high, but you probably won’t experience the same full-bodied effect you get when consuming flower. 

At the end of the day, you can think of the Entourage Effect as a coming together of all of the compounds in the cannabis plant to spark therapeutic benefits in the body. Rather than just asking your budtender about Sativa vs. Indica characterizations, see if they can point you to a product whose specific terpene and cannabinoid profile fits your therapeutic needs. 


Written by Liam Noonan / Stoned Root


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