THC & CBD: The Entourage Effect Explained Simply
One of the reasons why cannabis is such a great medicine is because treatment can be personalized for different conditions.
Each strain of marijuana is made up of a different set of chemical compounds. The way these compounds interact with each other change how effective your medication is.
Sometimes people ask for CBD-only medicine. In this post, we’ll explain why having a variety of cannabinoids present may treat your condition better.
What is the Entourage Effect?
The entourage effect refers to the way marijuana’s chemicals—called cannabinoids—interact when they’re present together. Terpenes, which are responsible for the smell, also are involved in this effect.
Each cannabinoid has its own set of therapeutic benefits. However, when multiple cannabinoids are consumed, they enhance each other’s effects. In this way, cannabinoids are more effective together than they are alone.
Let’s use the two most popular cannabinoids—THC and CBD—as an example. A patient may be prescribed a high-THC medication to help their nausea and increase appetite. However, they would also want some CBD to be present because it helps reduce THC’s side effects, such as paranoia.
If you’re having a hard time understanding this concept, think of it as a good food pairing, like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. A sandwich with just peanut butter may taste okay. And a sandwich with just jelly may taste alright, too. But when they’re combined together, they enhance each other’s flavors for a better experience.
Studies on the Entourage Effect
The entourage effect is a fairly new theory and more research needs to be done so we can fully understand how it works.
There are over 100 different cannabinoids and about 200 different terpenes that may be present in marijuana. Because there are so many possible combinations, researchers have a lot of work to do before we know the role the entourage effect plays when certain compounds are combined.
However, the research available today presents some interesting findings:
- A 2010 study found that CBD increased THC’s ability to treat pain in cancer patients.
- A 2013 review of research found that CBD has protective effects that help counteract some psychological side effects of THC (anxiety, cognitive impairment, paranoia, etc.).
- A 2011 report suggested that terpenes may interact with cannabinoids in a way that enhances marijuana’s ability to treat pain, cancer, inflammation, anxiety, depression, epilepsy and more.
This research has also changed the way pharmaceutical companies are making cannabis products. Some marijuana-based pharmaceutical drugs, such as Marinol, only contain THC. When surveyed in 2011, 98% of participants said they liked natural cannabis more than Marinol.
The entourage effect is part of the reason why each strain—or type—of cannabis can create different effects. That’s why choosing the correct strain is critical to treatment. Our doctors are experts and can help you find which medicine works best for your condition.