The Endocannawhatta System? Part 2 - The Entourage Effect
The Entourage Effect?
Okay, I know you're wondering why I'm spamming you with my recent wedding photos. First of all, I absolutely adore this picture, but more importantly, I think it really shows an example of an "entourage effect". You can see in the cover picture that we're having an amazingly fun time with our moms, way more fun than each of us would have dancing in a circle by ourselves. The whole is greater than the sum of the parts.
Let’s go back to some CBD basics and talk about the highly touted (but actually not highly understood) Entourage Effect. We certainly know that hemp contains many different active compounds, besides CBD and THC. CBD and THC are the primary phytocannabinoids (cannabinoids naturally found in the plant), but there are many others that are being studied. The phytocannabinoids interact with the receptors in our endocannabinoid system, which is now though to be the largest receptor system in our body and has an extremely important role in regulating homeostasis (the state of our body being in physiologic balance).
I won’t overwhelm you with all of the different phytocannabinoids in this post but check out this article if you’re really interested chemistry and all of the awesome research into some of these other compounds.
So now we know about the cannabinoids, but what else is in this mystical plant? We also have compounds called terpenes and flavonoids. Terpenes are the essential oil compounds that give a distinct smell and flavor to certain strains of hemp. For example, if you’ve ever wondered why a pine tree smells like a pine tree, it’s the terpene named so appropriately, pinene. Terpenes don’t just smell good, they also have important antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, anti-convulsant, and anti-anxiety effects.
Flavonoids are secondary metabolites of plants that can impart distinct colors and flavors to certain plants, but they also have their own health benefits. Flavonoids are found in many fruits and vegetables, as well as wine, tea, and chocolate. Flavonoids have been shown to have anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, anti-cancer, and anti-allergic effects.
The Entourage Effect is a proposed phenomenon whereby these chemical components of hemp act more powerfully together than as one. For instance, the interaction between CBD and terpenes leads to an enhanced effect of each of these compounds, more so than they would have individually. While this makes a lot of sense in theory, more works needs to done to prove this phenomenon once and for all!
Heblinski, Marika et al. “Terpenoids Commonly Found in Cannabis sativa Do Not Modulate the Actions of Phytocannabinoids or Endocannabinoids on TRPA1 and TRPV1 Channels.” Cannabis and cannabinoid research vol. 5,4 305-317. 15 Dec. 2020, doi:10.1089/can.2019.0099 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7759271/
Russo EB. Taming THC: potential cannabis synergy and phytocannabinoid-terpenoid entourage effects. Br J Pharmacol. 2011 Aug;163(7):1344-64. doi: 10.1111/j.1476-5381.2011.01238.x. PMID: 21749363; PMCID: PMC3165946. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/21749363/
Santiago M, Sachdev S, Arnold JC, McGregor IS, Connor M. Absence of Entourage: Terpenoids Commonly Found in Cannabis sativa Do Not Modulate the Functional Activity of Δ9-THC at Human CB1 and CB2 Receptors. Cannabis Cannabinoid Res. 2019 Sep 23;4(3):165-176. doi: 10.1089/can.2019.0016. PMID: 31559333; PMCID: PMC6757242. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6757242/