How The Entourage Effect Could Maximize The Benefits of CBD and THC

The superhero analogy

Discussions about the potential impacts of CBD and THC now inevitably require references to the entourage effect, a concept that has gained real traction in recent years. Scientists have spent considerable time exploring the possible effects of various compounds found in the cannabis plant, with indications that different combinations may unlock new and useful benefits.

 Cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahy drocannabinol (THC) are the two compounds in cannabis that grab the headlines. That is because they have been the subject of more research than other compounds, so most newsworthy developments surrounding cannabis inevitably focus on CBD and THC. They're sort of the chemical compound equivalent of Iron Man and Captain America in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the two characters that appear to be at the center of everything that's going on.

With the greatest of apologies to Martin Scorsese, the superhero analogy is necessary in this case. While your CBDs and your Captain Americas may take the starring roles, there are a lot of other parts in play that shouldn't be ignored. In reality, it is much more like the iconic battle scene at the end of Avengers: Endgame, where countless other major and minor characters join together on an epic scale. The same is true with cannabis, where there are just under 500 other compounds that are unique to the plant and deliver their own qualities. Again, as in Endgame, the single end result differs from person to person, or from reality to reality.

What exactly is the entourage effect?

Just as those Marvel heroes learned that they are inevitably much stronger when they collaborate, researchers are learning that a combination of cannabis compounds can produce stronger and more profound effects. The entourage effect sees these compounds synergizing to emphasize or enhance different characteristics of other constituent parts. Some synergies strengthen the existing effect of a compound, while other combinations can develop into something entirely new.

With hundreds of compounds found in cannabis, there are literally billions of possibilities. The most common are cannabinoids, with CBD and THC two of over 1400 present in the plant. The best way to contextualize this entourage effect is to compare the effects of the CBD isolate with synergized compounds.

CBD isolate

This is purely comprised of CBD and so, therefore, is not subjected to the entourage effect. While it has not been enhanced by the inclusion of other compounds, CBD isolate may still be useful in providing therapeutic respite for both physical and mental concerns.

Full spectrum CBD

This lives up to its name, as an extract of full spectrum CBD is comprised of all cannabinoids and terpenes from the present in any given plant - including THC. The benefits of CBD isolate may still come into play, but the inclusion of terpenes could kick in the entourage effect to provide added relief for sleeping concerns.

Broad spectrum CBD

This is the same as full spectrum CBD, minus THC. While this ensures that there is no chance of a complete entourage effect to maximize each compound, the removal of THC is a legal necessity in many areas. 

Research in this field will continue for years, as scientists explore the consequences of each compound combination. Just as humans are generally stronger, happier and more successful when they work together, it may be that further investigations into the entourage effect find similar conclusions about the different compounds in the cannabis plant.
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