CBD & The Entourage Effect
Increasingly health-conscious consumers are turning to natural cannabis compounds as an alternative to synthetic drugs, producing a promising correlation of anecdotal evidence supporting the viability of medical marijuana. Of these cannabis compounds, cannabidiol (CBD) is the single most studied and researched for potential therapeutic properties.
CBD is a cannabis extract that does not have psychoactive effects, unlike tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). CBD is the most abundant non-psychoactive cannabinoid found in marijuana, and is the primary cannabinoid in industrially grown hemp. Studies show that CBD can be used as a supplement to conventional therapeutics for a range of conditions including chronic pain and anxiety disorders.
There are currently no FDA approved medications for the treatment of physiological conditions in children except in the case of epileptic seizures (Epidiolex), though research suggests that CBD may have therapeutic potential for this group.
It’s worth noting that while CBD is currently being studied for possible applications in the future of medicine, the combination of different cannabis compounds — in a series of synergistic interactions known as the Entourage Effect — makes medical marijuana a viable course of alternative treatment even today. In this post, we present a quick crash course on how the so-called “entourage effect” works, as well as how terpenes contribute to it.
How The Entourage Effect Works
The advent of medical cannabis has stimulated a surge in cannabinoid research, which is showing that a large degree of cannabis’ therapeutic potential are derived from the synergistic interactions between cannabinoids. The entourage effect is now understood to be caused by the combined effects of different compounds present in whole plant extracts, including terpenes, flavonoids and other phytochemicals. This is why for many consumers, taking an extract with a broad range of cannabinoids provides more robust relief than taking only CBD or THC alone.
One of the most exciting discoveries about the entourage effect is that it helps to explain why cannabis is so effective in treating chronic pain. Scientists have found that cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids all work together to reduce inflammation, inhibit nerve growth factor (NGF) and prevent pain signals from reaching the brain. This synergistic action is what makes cannabis potentially more effective at relieving pain than opioids, which only target one aspect of the problem.
In addition to its analgesic properties, cannabis has also been shown to be helpful in treating other chronic conditions such as epilepsy, multiple sclerosis, cancer and Crohn’s disease. The entourage effect is thought to be responsible for these therapeutic benefits as well. It’s clear that the cannabis plant has complex and powerful medicinal potential, and that extracts containing a broad range of cannabinoids are more effective than isolates.
The Role of Terpenes in The Entourage Effect
Terpenes are organic compounds that give plants their distinctive smells and flavors. They also help to protect the plant from insects, bacteria, and other threats. Terpenes can be found in a variety of different types of plants such as lavender, hops, mangoes, lemons, pine trees and cannabis. Terpenes can also be synthetically created for many uses including perfumes and flavors.
Let’s look at the mango terpene myrcene, as an example of how they amplify the entourage effect. Studies show that myrcene lowers resistance while simultaneously improving permeability through the blood-brain barrier (BBB) to amplify the effects of cannabinoids like CBD on endocannabinoid receptors, improving its therapeutic potential. This is why myrcene-rich strains of marijuana are known for producing particularly immersive and vivid experiences upon consumption.
As research into the therapeutic properties of terpenes continues, an increasing number of industries (e.g. cosmetics, natural medicine, catering) are utilizing them in the creation of everything from topical products to culinary creations.