The Entourage Effect and How It Affects CBD
We’re learning new things about CBD every day. The research on cannabis products has been slowly trickling in for over a decade, and experts around the world have all weighed in about the potential benefits of CBD and how it works.
The entourage effect is a widely accepted theory backed up by credible research. Many CBD users abide by this theory and only use products that promote this effect. Some people can’t use products that promote this effect. It’s important to understand the difference and know which camp you’re in.
What Are Cannabinoids?
Cannabinoids are compounds that naturally occur in the cannabis plant, and they also occur in many other plants. People and animals can also make their own cannabinoids within their bodies, referred to as endocannabinoids or endogenous cannabinoids.
CBD (cannabidiol) is one of at least 113 cannabinoids that can be produced by cannabis plants. Each cannabinoid has a unique profile, and they interact with each other (and with your body) in different ways.
THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol, is the second well-known cannabinoid. THC is the cannabinoid that people use recreationally to feel good, or “get high” due to its psychoactive effects. It’s also used by medical cannabis patients for symptom relief.
What Is the Endocannabinoid System?
Virtually all animals, from worms to lizards to dolphins, have an endocannabinoid system. Your endocannabinoid system isn’t like your respiratory system or your cardiovascular system in that it doesn’t exist to support a core function. Instead, tiny pieces of it exist all throughout your body to support your whole body.
You have cannabinoid receptors in your brain, in your organs, and even within your skin. You also have countless other receptors that work similarly to cannabinoid receptors and are susceptible to the effects of certain cannabinoids.
This system works to support other systems throughout your body. It’s like an extra engine that powers up at the same time your other systems are performing their functions. It acts as a support system that supports your body’s ability to function the way it was built to.
Your body makes at least two of its own unique cannabinoids to power this system. Researchers aren’t exactly sure how the body makes them, why the body makes them, or how much of each cannabinoid the body makes because these cannabinoids are made and used up too quickly to really track the process.
The receptors in your endocannabinoid system network are also responsive to the effects of CBD, among other cannabinoids receptors.
What Is the Difference Between Cannabis and Hemp?
The entourage effect frequently refers to cannabis, but the same concept also applies to hemp. Hemp plants are cannabis plants that have been cultivated to produce 0.3% THC or less by their dry weight. Hemp plants grown for CBD oil are often cultivated for their high CBD content rather than for the effects of THC. Everything else about the two is heavily the same.
The hemp designation was created so that American farmers could grow industrial hemp plants without breaking the law. Hemp is an extremely useful material, but cannabis is regarded as a drug. By making this designation and setting a hard limit on THC content, the US Farm Bill opened the door for hemp products and CBD wellness products like CBD oil.
What Is CBD Oil?
“CBD oil” is an oversimplification of what the product actually is. CBD oil is the extract of the hemp plant. It contains CBD, but that’s only the beginning. CBD oil contains everything the hemp plant contains. It’s full of cannabinoids, including very small amounts of THC.
It contains the terpenes of the plant, which are aromatic compounds that the plant produces to communicate with its environment. The strong smells ward off predators and draw in pollinators. For people, terpenes are similar to aromatherapy when inhaled. The smells can make you feel happy, or energized, or relaxed.
CBD oil also contains the phytonutrients, fatty acids, and waxes that naturally occur in the plant. It’s the whole essence of hemp, all parts included.
What Is the Entourage Effect?
The entourage effect is a cannabinoid theory researched and championed by Dr. Ethan Russo. It basically states that all of these chemical compounds work together within the plant to produce beneficial effects. Nature created them in perfect balance to work in synergy. They were literally born to be a team, and their therapeutic effects are most pronounced when they’re all supporting each other.
Think about it like a puzzle. You’re never going to finish building a puzzle if some of the pieces are lost under the couch. Finishing most of a puzzle is better than never starting the puzzle, but it’s not as satisfying to have something permanently incomplete.
Cannabinoids interact not just with your body, but also with each other. CBD and THC are a perfect example. CBD and THC are each on different missions. THC wants to bind to your body’s cannabinoid receptors and modify the way they send messages. This is what leads to the feeling of being high. CBD doesn’t want to bind to anything, and it even works to prevent THC from binding to receptors, dampening its effects.
When you remove parts of the equation, it’s no longer an equation. The natural balances that exist within hemp are taken away, which is why partial hemp extract may not be as effective as whole plant hemp extract.
Is the Entourage Effect Real?
Here’s where things get tricky. There’s been a lot of studies surrounding The entourage effect, but it’s only a theory. Some studies seem to validate the theory. Other studies can’t find a link or duplicate the results.
There are a few reasons why this might happen. The first is pure coincidence. It’s possible that some researchers seem to find a link where there isn’t one. The second reason is that the testing methods aren’t similar enough to produce the same result.
Proponents of the entourage effect are adamant that only whole, natural plant extract containing all of the hemp or cannabis compounds can produce the entourage effect. They say that when you attempt to replicate it with synthetic cannabinoids and terpenes, things won’t play out the same way due to the lack of synergistic effects — and they might have a point.
There’s going to be a big difference between a mixture of compounds that occurred in nature and a mixture of compounds whipped up in a lab.
For now, the entourage effect remains a popular theory that has neither been proven nor disproven. If you’re really curious, you can read and compare the studies yourself. See what you think.
What Is the Difference Between Full-Spectrum CBD Products and Broad-Spectrum CBD Products?
CBD oil comes in two different varieties. One supports the theory of the entourage effect, and the other doesn’t. Full-spectrum CBD products, like full-spectrum CBD oil, contain whole hemp extract. It exists exactly the way it was extracted from the plant. Broad-spectrum CBD products have been modified to remove the detectable levels of THC, which prevents the entourage effect.
Who Should Use Full-Spectrum CBD Products?
Full spectrum CBD is generally ideal for people whose lifestyles allow them to use it. If you can use products containing small amounts of THC, you may want to choose whole hemp extracts. They may be more effective than processed or modified forms of CBD that are lacking flavonoids and phytocannabinoids.
Who Should Use Broad-Spectrum CBD Products?
At first, it might seem like broad-spectrum CBD products aren’t worthwhile. The opposite is true. While the entourage effect has the potential to be great, some people can’t or shouldn’t use full-spectrum CBD products.
People who are uncomfortable using products with any amount of THC shouldn’t use full-spectrum CBD products. People who are forbidden from using products that contain any amount of CBD, such as professional athletes, can’t use full-spectrum CBD products.
There is a possibility that full-spectrum CBD might show up on a drug test. While the THC it contains isn’t enough to produce effects, long-term use can lead to the body storing small amounts of THC in fat. Stored THC can leave the body through waste products like urine, and a very sensitive drug test might be able to pick it up.
Broad-spectrum CBD products offer all the benefits of CBD, even if they don’t promote the entourage effect. The entourage effect might be great, but it isn’t worth the potential consequences you might experience.
CBD produces the same benefits when it’s used all by itself. The case and cannabis research supporting the entourage effect doesn’t state that CBD needs the presence of THC and terpenes to produce its benefits. It’s just a theory that states that the benefits might get a slight boost. As long as there’s enough CBD involved, your endocannabinoid system will respond.
How Much CBD Do I Need?
Most people find that 25 mg of CBD daily produces the benefits they’re looking for. CBD’s effects typically aren’t overwhelmingly noticeable. It likely won’t make you feel very different, and most people describe the effects as making them feel broadly more at ease.
CBD provides a very subtle boost to the human body’s natural processes. Many people find that CBD helps promote feelings of relaxation. This boost can be especially helpful around bedtime or during times where you feel a little wound up.
How Do I Take CBD To Maximize the Benefits?
The best time to take CBD largely depends on the form of CBD and what you’re using it for. CBD oil usually begins to take effect within half an hour. CBD edibles begin to take effect within an hour. Planning ahead is key.
CBD also needs to be used consistently to work efficiently. Using CBD every day for at least a month is most likely to produce noticeable effects. Try incorporating CBD into your daily routine and see how it makes you feel.
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Terpenoids From Cannabis Do Not MediateThe Case for the Entourage Effect and Conventional Breeding of Clinical Cannabis: No “Strain,” No Gain an Entourage Effect by Acting at Cannabinoid Receptors | Frontiers in Pharmacology