The word "entourage" implies a big group of cool friends. The term "entourage effect" means sort of the same thing, except the cool friends are CBD and THC. Here's a quick guide to what entourage effect is, what causes it, and how you can achieve this effect to make more informed decisions about the CBD products you use.
What is the entourage effect?
The entourage effect is the term used to describe the enhanced effects of cannabinoids, such as THC and CBD, when they work together rather than alone. When you consume THC or full-spectrum CBD, you're actually ingesting upwards of 80 different cannabinoids, as well as other compounds (e.g., terpenes, flavonoids, etc). While THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol) are the best-known cannabinoids, you may have also heard about CBN, CBC, and Delta-8.
The integration of these compounds creates the entourage effect, which enhances the overall experience by emphasizing the psychoactive and/or medicinal properties of THC, CBD, or other cannabinoids. The more compounds one consumes, the more likely it is that one will experience symptom relief.
What does the entourage effect do for us?
If you’ve done any research on cannabis, you probably know about the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which is a nerve-signaling system throughout the human body that helps maintain psychological, emotional, and cognitive balance.
Experts believe the primary role of ECS is maintaining homeostasis, which is our body's effort to keep everything balanced and optimal no matter what's going on in the environment around us. The ECS does this via cannabinoid receptors found in select tissues.
Even though experts don’t know the full potential of the ECS yet, the system has been known to help with functions such as anxiety relief, anti-inflammatory action, and pain relief. The endocannabinoid system exists and is active in our bodies regardless of any cannabis usage, and our cannabinoid receptors interact with the various compounds found in the cannabis plant.
THC is one of the main cannabinoids found in cannabis. It’s the compound that gets you “high.” Once in your body, some effects are desirable, such as reducing pain and increasing appetite, but other side effects (like paranoia and anxiety) are concerning or unwanted. The other major cannabinoid found in cannabis is CBD, which typically doesn't cause any negative effects.
Unlike THC, CBD doesn’t make you "high" — but gets you balanced.
Cannabinoids, terpenes, and other compounds have an impact on different physiological mechanisms in our body, which can increase the likelihood for therapeutic results. Consuming more compounds can mitigate other side effects and have an entourage effect. For instance, adding CBD could help lessen undesirable effects of THC, such as intoxication, paranoia, and anxiety.
Types of CBD and the entourage effect
CBD products are available in three exact types: full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, or isolate. These terms describe the chemical medley of the CBD oil (and the amount of processing after extracting it).
Full-spectrum CBD: Contains the whole cannabinoid party (80+ cannabinoids) from the hemp plant. It may contain small traces of THC, though not enough to produce a high (<0.3%). The blended interaction of all compounds creates what's called the entourage effect.
The entourage effect describes the synergy created by full-spectrum cannabinoids, which produces a therapeutic effect useful in sleep, sex, stress relief, energy management, and more.
Broad-spectrum CBD: The same as full-spectrum but with the THC wholly removed; this more processed option creates a less-impactful entourage effect.
CBD isolate: Artificially created in a lab or pulled from CBD extract with no entourage effect, CBD isolate ensures zero additional chemicals.
The benefit of CBD isolate is that you know exactly what you are getting (simply CBD), but you may find broad-spectrum CBD more effective because of the entourage effect.
There are many forms of CBD on the market, including tinctures (drops) and edibles like gummies. Different methods and dosages may produce slightly different effects. Read more on how to take CBD oil to see what’s best for you.