What is the Entourage Effect & Why Is It So Important?

Cannabis Plant Top

It should come as no surprise that cannabis is a complex plant containing a wide range of compounds. Marijuana and hemp, the two well-known types of cannabis, have been widely researched and hundreds of compounds have been identified - some unique to the plant and others commonly found throughout nature.

Some of the most abundant compounds in cannabis are cannabinoids and terpenes. These compounds, plus others like flavonoids and fatty acids, are undergoing constant research to discover their therapeutic benefits and medical applications.

Current research and anecdotal evidence agree that the therapeutic benefits provided by these compounds are superior when consumed in a whole-plant form, rather than as individual isolated compounds. Consumed together the compounds in cannabis produce specific and unique effects. This is thanks to a synergistic interaction between these compounds known as the "entourage effect".

What is Single Molecule CBD Isolate?

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If you look around the hemp-fueled CBD market today you'll quickly find many companies selling white powders called isolates. This crystalline substance is created through further processing a full spectrum hemp oil extract until only the cannabidiol (CBD) molecule remains. The resulting crystal form of CBD is wiped of all other cannabis compounds.

With all the research and evidence pointing to the effectiveness of a product NOT stripped down to a single chemical, you're probably wondering why isolates have become so popular. There are many reasons including:

  • A THC-free product like an isolate comes under less scrutiny from a legal point of view.
  • Isolates can be produced inexpensively because they can be sourced from lower quality hemp.
  • Consumers who are subject to drug testing must avoid THC, making an isolate one of their only choices.
  • Many people still carry a negative perception of THC due to its association with marijuana use and prefer products without the compound.
  • These products are versatile in their application.

While many find isolates to suit their needs, the unfortunate truth is that often consumers are simply misinformed or uneducated about the products they consume. For those who use isolate-based products, it can be eye-opening to learn about the additional benefits consuming a whole-plant extract can offer.

Full-Spectrum CBD Oil Offers Whole-Plant Benefits

Full Spectrum CBD Oil

When a high-quality hemp source undergoes extraction in a professional lab, the resulting CBD-rich oil contains a chemical profile that reflects that of the original plant material. This whole-plant extract is known as full spectrum because it contains just that - the full spectrum of cannabis compounds found in the hemp it was sourced from.

In addition to CBD, this extract contains a wide range of cannabinoids and terpenes that provide neighboring and cooperative benefits when consumed together. The result is a superior therapeutic profile when compared to an isolate. For this reason, we absolutely recommend a full spectrum product to anyone looking to experience the maximum benefits from a CBD product.

If you'd like to explore the wide range of cannabis compounds on a deeper level, we've written a series which outlines the most abundant compounds in the plant. From this article, you can dive in and learn about the effects and benefits of the individual compounds.

Broad Spectrum Offers a Superior THC-Free Option

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Like we mentioned above the trouble with full-spectrum products are that they contain THC, a compound which many cannot consume. Until recently CBD isolate was the only option for consumers looking for a THC-free product. Thankfully advances in extraction technology have led to a new spectrum of product.

Broad-spectrum products are produced by extracting only the THC from a full-spectrum oil. The result is a THC-free option that retains the maximum entourage effectiveness without the presence of this compound which is troublesome for so many.

If you're a new CBD user that falls into this group, or an existing isolate user looking to improve the overall benefits, we suggest checking out our article which does a deep dive comparing broad spectrum vs CBD isolate.

Cannabinoids, Terpenes & An Exciting Future

Though the concept of the entourage effect was first discussed by well-known cannabis researcher Raphael Mechoulam in an article published in 1998, there is still much to learn on the topic. 

Further research outlines one of the most common examples of the entourage effect known today. A 2011 paper outlined an inverse relationship between CBD and THC - when consumed together, CBD was found to reduce the psychotic symptoms associated with THC use.

The interaction of these star cannabinoids just scratches the surface of understanding the synergies that other compounds may offer. In 2011, Ethan Russo, M.D., a neurologist with a long history of studying cannabis published an instrumental study. This paper detailed not only how cannabinoids interact, but how even minor compounds called terpenes, the aromatic oils that give cannabis its smell, can make a big difference.

Some examples include limonene, a terpene which helps increase the absorption of terpenes and cannabinoids through the skin, mucous membranes, and digestive tract. Another terpene called pinene helps to impacted memory issues and cognitive function due to THC use. Additionally, the interaction between cannabinoids THC and CBN resulted in enhanced sedating effects. Combining terpenes like pinene, myrcene, and caryophyllene can help soothe anxiety.

While it may take some time before research develops and more chemically specific products are created, you can still enjoy the entourage effect today. As a consumer be sure to be on the lookout for full or broad-spectrum products which maximize the potential whole-plant benefits of cannabis use.

Originally Published: June 2, 2018 | Last Updated: October 26, 2018

2 comments on “What is the Entourage Effect & Why Is It So Important?

  • Jude Lindquist says:

    Your article just got through discussing the downside of isolate-based and broad spectrum CBD, so how is it that you recommend these brands on your list?

    • IntelliCBD says:

      Hey Jude, while we do discuss the lack of benefits that an isolate offers when compared to a full-spectrum product, ultimately there are some users out there that are happy with an isolate. In this case, we would still recommend giving a full spectrum (or broad spectrum product) a try because scientifically there just is more potential benefits to be had from using these products. We definitely don't talk down about broad spectrum - we think it's a fantastic option that meets the needs of many users. As for our brand recommendations, you will see that all the brands we recommend are either broad spectrum or full spectrum companies that also sell isolates, but don't only sell isolates. We are recommending these brands based on their full spectrum products, having an isolate in their line doesn't take away from their other products. You won't find any companies selling only isolate based products on our recommended list because we just simply believe there are better options out there.

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