Anyone else thinks of the show Entourage when they read the title? Just me? Okay. Well, in a recent article, we explored how the body interacts with CBD and other chemical compounds found in hemp plants. In this week’s article, we will go into a bit more detail on how these various compounds interact with one another, and the impact this has on the body. This synergistic/interdependent interaction is known as ‘the entourage effect’. The term ‘entourage effect’ was introduced in 1998 to describe the way that various elements found in cannabis plants regulate the plant’s psychoactive effects. Initially the subject of some debate, there is now consensus that the entourage effect is significant from a research point of view.
CBD, THC and other Cannabinoids
CBD (cannabidiol) is just one of over 100 chemical compounds known as ‘cannabinoids’ found in cannabis plants. These cannabinoids include THC (tetrahydrocannabinol), CBG (cannabigerol), CBN (cannabinol), CBC (cannabichromene), CBDV (cannabidivarin) and THCV (tetrahydrocannabivarin). They are found in various ratios depending on the plant species (Cannabis Sativa or Cannabis Indica) and the so-called ‘strain’ of the plant.
CBD is a highly versatile compound from a pharmacological perspective. It has been shown to regulate and reduce the adverse psychoactive effects of THC (which itself has limited therapeutic benefits) when the two are combined. It can also negate short-term memory loss associated with cannabis use.
CBC is also notable for its anti-inflammatory and analgesic activity, its antibiotic and antifungal effects as well as its ability to reduce the intoxicating effects of THC in mice. CBG is another cannabinoid with antifungal and analgesic effects in mice, though it is usually less concentrated in cannabis plants. CBN, THCV, and CBDV also all have varying cumulative effects from anticonvulsant properties to effects against MRSA.
There are, however, organic compounds to be found in hemp plants other than cannabinoids. They also contain terpenes, chemicals found in a variety of plants, used extensively in aromatic oils and derived for commercial purposes from things like pine resin (pinene), citrus fruit peels (limonene), or lavender (linalool).Terpenes add scent and flavor to plants, for evolutionary reasons such as deterring herbivores and have been used in folk medicine throughout history. There is also anecdotal evidence of various terpene-rich substances being used in the past to counteract the psychoactive effects of cannabis.
There are over 100 types of terpenes in cannabis plants and they contribute to the entourage effect by interacting with phytocannabinoids. The most prevalent are caryophyllene, noted for its potential therapeutic qualities, linalool, which in studies is a sedative to activity in mice with local anesthetic effects, and limonene, which is easily absorbed by the human body.
In practice, the entourage effect requires more study in order to understand fully the potential implications from a medical point of view. It is not as simple as saying that more of one compound and less of another gives a certain specific result. The reality of this botanical synergy is much more complex and the full extent of its importance remains to be seen.