Oct 3, 2020

The Entourage Effect Explained

You’ve probably heard of the two main cannabinoids in cannabis – THC and CBD. But scientists have discovered many more cannabinoids in the plant and are only just beginning to dig into their effects, if any. And with all those cannabinoids paired with all those terpenes, the question arises, is it simply a matter of indica versus sativa or is it actually the mix of all these components that determines the cannabis experience as a whole?


The entourage effect is the unproven theory that assumes just that; each cannabinoid has its own effect(s) but when multiple cannabinoids are consumed together they are more effective than when consumed alone.


The effects of terpenes – besides the scent they lend to the plant/cannabis products – are not fully known. But since many terpenes are found within multiple types of plants and herbs used in naturopathic remedies, some have extrapolated that those healing or mood-adjusting properties of the terpenes would also play a role in the effect of the cannabis.


For example, some believe that limonene makes you more energetic, myrcene makes you  tired, and caryophyllene is an antibiotic; these are just some of the unconfirmed associations.


To date, there is no scientific evidence proving the theory to be true. All studies that have been conducted were performed on mice and have yet to produce anything concrete. For example, they found Myrcene to be sedative, but this determined by having mice stand on a hotplate; they gradually raised the temperature until the mouse showed discomfort and tried to escape from the heat, then they dosed the mouse with myrcene and made it stand on the hotplate again. When the mouse on myrcene stood on the hotplate for longer than it had without being on myrcene scientists concluded that the myrcene had sedated the mouse to the point of not feeling the pain of the heat as fast.


Can we apply the results of these studies to humans? Health Canada says not yet.


What we do know is that the smell of something can immediately trigger a detailed memory or even intense emotion, and memories can be a powerful influence or motivator. We may associate lemon smells with cleaning products and refreshing lemonade, and this might explain people feeling more energized and refreshed when they smell strains with high limonene. If you love kushy smells and have fond memories of smoking kushy strains with old friends, opening a kushy strain might get extra dopamine flowing which can increase the euphoric effects you are feeling. Of course that’s just another theory.


With over 140 different cannabinoids and thousands of different terpenes present in cannabis, the combinations to consider seem endless. The entourage effect requires more research to fully understand how or if it works.

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