If you’re familiar with cannabis you’ve likely heard the terms THC and CBD. These two stars of are what’s called compounds, and are found in the dots of resin on the cannabis bud. There are actually dozens of chemical compounds found in the resin, called cannabinoids, and when ingested each compound interacts with the endocannabinoid system in the body.
In 1998, a theory called the Entourage Effect was published in the European Journal of Pharmacology. It suggests that although each cannabinoid has its own effects, when ingested together they may play a supporting role in the overall effects of a strain.
For example, people who consume too much THC can feel anxious or paranoid. Anecdotal evidence has led people to believe that the unwanted effects can be mitigated by consuming CBD.
Cannabinoids are not the only element involved in this collaboration of compounds – terpenes are also thought to play a role in the entourage effect.
What are terpenes and why do they matter?
If you’re not familiar with terpenes but interested in the topic, we have a great rundown here. For quick reference, terpenes are the aromatic compounds that emanate from cannabis and most other plants. They include scents like berries, diesel, cheese, skunk, pine, citrus, and many others. Many cannabis strains are named for their terpene smells, including Sour Diesel, Blueberry, Pineapple Express, and Ice Cream Cake. These terpenes also bind to our cannabis receptors and cells, adding to the idea that everything in the plant is working together.
As with most cannabis topics, there is an ongoing debate about the validity of the entourage effect, with some scientists indicating it’s a marketing ploy to sell more products. Part of this skepticism comes from the fact that cannabis legalization is still in its infancy, and is only recently being studied on an extensive level.
Until the entourage effect can be scientifically proven, the best way for consumers to test the theory would be to consider full-spectrum products (often called whole plant extracts). These products are designed to contain as much of the original plant as possible, including many compounds and terpenes. This is a first-hand way to determine if the entourage effect is different from straight THC or CBD.
As always, please consume responsibly.
*NOTE: This is not an exhaustive list of factors that contribute to a person’s high. Every person’s body reacts differently to cannabis..
 European Journal of Pharmacology – Vol 353, Issue 1, July 17, 1998