What Is it with Hemp and “The Entourage Effect”?

By Carter Spurling


There’s a significant amount of activity happening in the cannabis plant – far more than what we perceive from the human eye. Cannabis is not simply THC and CBD; it’s hundreds of other components, and the multidimensional abilities of cannabis extend well past the single molecules of THC and CBD.


The entourage effect is a theory that essentially says these various compounds of cannabinoids, terpenes and even flavonoids found in hemp are much more potent and effective when combined; they can achieve a lot more than the isolated individual components. In his paper on the entourage effect, Ethan B. Russo argued that “terpenes display unique therapeutic effects that may contribute meaningfully to the entourage effects of cannabis-based medicinal extracts. Particular focus will be placed on phytocannabinoid‐terpenoid interactions that could produce synergy with respect to treatment of [certain medical conditions].” The combination is greater than the sum of all the parts from a therapeutic perspective, hence the term “entourage”.


Terpenes are the components that give cannabis its scent and taste, and there is an expanding body of research to show they influence the way in which cannabinoids bind to their respective receptors, thus changing the way in which cannabinoids take effect. In this manner, terpenes work in concert with cannabinoids in a combined effort to promote various medically-beneficial effects.


Historically the most common way to get the most out of your cannabis is to smoke it in its flower form, yet the plants’ natural variability can affect its exact makeup. Vaping is a newer inhalation way but many times processed down to just one molecule, THC or CBD.. Hemp crude oils provide a broader array of the plants components but can have the same variability in contents and has a stronger plant taste that some like and some do not enjoy Hemp Distillates - as the name implies - are distilled down to remove the plant compounds while leaving the active cannabinoids. These multi-cannabinoid distillates can then be combined with known-effect terpenes and taste profiles for a more consistent product and experience.


Some researchers and other experts in the field have expressed skepticism about the entire entourage effect theory. This sets up a sharp disagreement between those who believe the concept needs more scientific evidence and those who support it.. Like most of what we know about CBD, it’s an age of discovery with much to still learn but for some, the entourage effect is a well-documented and tested theory - right now.


A significant amount of the research regarding cannabis is aimed towards identifying which terpene and cannabinoid ensembles seem to be the most effective and for which symptoms and conditions. By comprehending how the components all work together, new cultivars, formulations, and extracts can be created that directly tailor to specific needs. This discovery and crafting of the components could completely revolutionize the hemp/CBD and medical marijuana market and could represent the future of cannabis crafting and consumption.


If you are interested in an oil or formulation assistance that capitalizes on the potential benefits of the Entourage Effect, check out UNHE’s full spectrum oil or our terpene-enhanced distillate line, the Synergy Series.


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