*This article is purely informational and does not constitute medical advice. Consult your healthcare provider about cannabis.
Entourage effect – Is it just another clever tactic to market cannabis, or is there actual science behind it?
By and large, cannabis-derived products sold in the United States are here to stay for the foreseeable future.
In 2021, it was estimated that the legal sale of recreational cannabis hit $14.9 billion and is believed to reach $25 billion by 2025.
One of the industry’s key selling points is the combined power of the plant, often described as the “Entourage Effect.” Cannabis experts claim that with this ‘effect,’ using the plant’s cannabinoids as a whole generates an effect greater than the sum of its parts.
Entourage Effect: Splitting Up or Act as One
Disclaimer: The information presented here is not meant as a substitute or alternative to information from healthcare professionals. The statements regarding cannabis and its compounds have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. Consult your healthcare provider about cannabis-derived compounds before use.
There are currently two major camps when talking about cannabis-derived products. Each of these camps aligns with the two major cannabinoids found in the hemp plant or cannabis – Cannabidiol (CBD) and Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
Both camps swear by their chosen cannabinoid, each touting the wealth of scientific research available that showcases it.
But of course, the cannabis plant also contains over a hundred other cannabinoids, other terpenes, and essential oils that research is looking into.
However, there is also a third camp that reasons out that harnessing the full potential of cannabis lies in its wholeness. People of this reasoning believe in the power of the entourage effect.
Entourage Effect: Meaning
What is the entourage effect? Experts believe that the entourage effect is a synergistic trait that cannabinoids have when functioning in a body. They theorize that cannabinoids work hand in hand in the presence of one another to create an exponentially greater effect.
First hints of the Entourage Effect in Cannabis Science
In the 1998 research, Professors Raphael Mechoulam and Shimon Ben-Shabat suggested endogenous cannabinoids (cannabinoids found inside the body) had significantly increased activity when other metabolites and related molecules were present.
In 1999, Profs. Mechoulam and Ben-Shabat used this same theory to explain how botanical drugs were often more effective when compared to isolated components.
The Entourage Effect in Research
As the entourage effect became a prevalent topic to debate in the scientific community, there was only one way to refute or prove it: through more research.
In 2010, a study was conducted on patients being treated with potent opioids. In the study, different cannabis-based extracts in various combinations were used.
The scientists discovered that the THC-only solution wasn’t doing anything compared to a placebo. However, they found that the solution containing both THC and CBD had a markedly better result.
By 2014, animal studies surrounding pure CBD were described as having a biphasic dose-response. After reaching a point, any increase in amounts is ineffective and wasted.
In one application during the study, a full-spectrum CBD extract was used. It was observed that the full-spectrum CBD extract eliminated the biphasic-dose response and exhibited a linear dose-response.
During the test, the full-spectrum CBD extract provided more positive effects with more dosing without a supposed peak or ceiling.
Are Cannabis Preparations Too Pure?
Dr. Russo further writes in his study that data suggests that single-molecule preparations may be too pure. Simply put, treatments that focus primarily on CBD- or THC-only preparations may be missing out on synergistic effects put forth by the entourage effect.
In 2018, a paper was made that describes and analyzes data from multiple studies using CBD-based products.
It was discovered in the review that CBD-predominant cannabis extracts performed markedly better than purified CBD. It was shown that the CBD-predominant extracts improved the symptoms of 71% of the patients. Whereas the purified CBD only improved 36% of the patients.
Likewise, it was also discovered that the CBD-predominant extracts only required a smaller dose at 6.1mg/kg/day. On the other hand, the purified CBD needed 27.1mg/kg/day.
Interestingly, the researchers also noted that mild to severe adverse effects only persisted in patients given purified CBD.
The entourage effect splits the opinion of many cannabis experts. While research is plenty surrounding the topic, many still agree that there is still a lack of concrete evidence to label it as a fact.
However, considering the after-effects of the recent pandemic on people’s physical and mental health, fully understanding cannabis and the entourage effect is a boon many people may benefit from.
“These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease.”