Out of 120 different cannabinoids found in the hemp and marijuana plants, Cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are the most well-known and researched.
Both of these compounds have the same chemical makeup but have a different atomic structure. This difference in structure is what causes them to act differently in our bodies.
Most of us are aware of the basic effects of both these compounds when taken separately, but what happens when both of them are taken together?
The Entourage Effect
The entourage effect is the theory that states that if all the cannabinoids, flavonoids, and terpenes are taken together, as opposed to taking them separately, they are more beneficial.
The theory, presented by Raphael Mechoulam and Shimon Ben-Shabat in 1998, follows the idea that among the hundreds of compounds present in the cannabis plant, most are inactive.
However, when taken together, these compounds increase the effect of the compounds such as CBD, eventually providing more satisfying results.
THC & CBD, Together
Generally, when discussing the entourage effect, most people are talking about the combination of THC and CBD.
When THC enters the body, it binds with the CB1 receptors of the endocannabinoid system. As opposed to CBD which interacts with the CB1 receptors but does not completely bind.
So, when both of them are taken together, the CBD dampens the THC’s affinity to CB1 receptors. As a result, the psychoactive effects of THC are considerably reduced.
Some people cannot tolerate the psychoactive aspect of THC. For them, a combination of THC and CBD would work wonders, as it would provide the therapeutic effects of the two compounds, without making them feel “stoned” or paranoid.
Back in the 1980s, FDA approved a synthetic THC-based drug called Marinol. Marinol was used to control weight-loss and a loss of appetite in patients diagnosed with HIV and to treat vomiting caused by chemotherapy.
While it did a great job at reducing these symptoms, it made patients paranoid.
On the other hand, Sativex (R) was used to treat neuropathic pain in patients suffering from multiple sclerosis.
As the drug, contained THC and CBD in a one-to-one ratio, no psychoactive side-effects of THC were witnessed by patients.
What Does The Science Say?
A 2019 study published in the Frontiers in Plant Science journal by Dr. Ethan Russo, a board-certified neurologist and psychopharmacology researcher, supports the entourage effect. After reviewing countless studies on the entourage effect, Dr. Russo concluded that there is strong evidence to validate the entourage effect.
In another study published in 2015, researchers were trying to treat the inflammatory conditions in mice with the help of CBD.
Initially, the researchers used pure CBD on mice and found that the inflammatory conditions did improve. But these conditions only improved in a tight range of doses. Anything more or less did not provide the desired therapeutic effects.
The researchers then tried to use whole-plant CBD and found that the therapeutic effects were better than with pure CBD.
In fact, these effects were also observed in lower as well as higher doses as opposed to the case with pure CBD.
The researchers concluded that whole-plant CBD was more beneficial as compared to pure CBD. Thus, supporting the entourage effect.
If you want to benefit from the entourage effect, you should opt for a whole-plant oil. Different chemical compounds are present in different parts of the plant. For example, most of the terpenes are located on the flower.
So, to take maximum benefits, use whole-plant oils so that you can benefit from various compounds present in stalks, leaves, and flowers of the plant.
You should also consider the extraction process before buying the whole-plant oils. Because some extraction processes do not preserve all the chemicals of the plant.
For example, some of these processes employ harsh temperatures and chemicals that destroy the beneficial nutrients of the plant.
CO₂ extraction is considered to be one of the best extraction processes as it preserves most of the beneficial nutrients of the plant.
Hemp or Marijuana: Which Is Better?
The question of whether hemp-based extracts or marijuana-based extracts are better has caused a divide among people.
The difference between extracts from both these plants lies in the THC content. While hemp-based extracts have little THC in them, the marijuana-based extracts are rich in THC.
Many people are of the opinion that THC should be present in reasonable quantity for the entourage effect to reach its maximum potential.
However, another group argues that there is not much requirement of THC and the entourage effect works fine even with minimal THC present.
The truth is that there is little to no scientific evidence that supports either side. Due to the lack of scientific proof, it is hard to say which side of the argument is closer to the truth.
Therefore, sane advice would be to experiment with both types of extracts and choose the one that works best for you. Because the effects of these compounds vary from person to person.
The entourage effect is still a mystery yet to unravel by the experts. With hundreds of different compounds found in cannabis plants, there is a long way to go until we finally start to grasp all the therapeutic benefits offered by this amazing plant.
But until then, it is better to use whole-plant extracts as compared to pure CBD so reap maximum benefits.