What is the entourage effect?
The term “entourage effect” was coined in 1999 by Dr. Raphael Mechoulam, a pioneer of cannabis research since the 1960s. In general, the entourage effect is the observation that cannabis compounds work better together, rather than separately.
You might recognize this idea from nutrition – we understand that eating whole fruits and vegetables is better for your health than vitamin pills alone.
Similarly, Dr. Mechoulam found that treatments using whole cannabis extract were more effective than treatments using single compounds.
What creates the entourage effect?
There is mounting evidence that cannabis offers its most powerful benefits as a whole plant. In order to fully understand the potential of this entourage effect, scientists must face a unique challenge.
If different cultivars (commonly referred to as “strains”) present distinct benefits, this means that each variety’s unique chemical composition needs to be identified and studied as a whole.
In a horticultural industry with hundreds of different varieties, this is no small feat. So far, scientists have found over 500 distinct cannabis compounds that include cannabinoids (CBD), terpenoids (terpenes), flavonoids, and omega fatty acids.
It’s the unique combination (or profiles) of these compounds that create the renowned qualities of certain cannabis varieties, like their color, smell, taste, and associated effects (or entourage effect).
What are cannabis profiles?
In order to precisely study the benefits of each variety, scientists began classifying cultivars by their chemical profiles. In other words, they identified each cultivar’s unique combination of active compounds. Using these profiles, scientists can identify the exact combinations that produce certain physical and psychological benefits.
Essentially, this is the entourage effect in action.
For example, scientists have learned that certain terpenes can enhance CBD’s ability to pass through the blood-brain barrier. So, these profiles may be especially effective for emotional, psychological, and neurological treatments.
Scientists have also found that high-CBD cultivars (like Charlotte’s Web) are effective for treating epilepsy, and high-THC varieties (like Pineapple Express) work well for treating depression and PTSD.
How can you benefit from the entourage effect?
Just as we season our own recipes to taste, understanding the entourage effect of different terpene and cannabinoid profiles can help you choose the cannabis cultivars and products that are best for you.
Additionally, companies who understand the science behind the entourage effect have an opportunity to safely develop highly targeted and consistently effective products for their customers.
This is why we use full spectrum CBD hemp extract (a whole plant extract) and synergistic terpene blends in our CBD products. It’s also why we test our products through independently accredited third-party laboratories with internationally-accepted analytical methods.
Considering Carriers and Product Bases
When developing products with therapeutic benefits, it’s important to consider the bases or carriers that are delivering these active compounds. Since the entourage effect occurs on a molecular level, carefully choosing these ingredients helps ensure that a product is pure, safe, and effective.
As a general rule, look for products that use organically-cultivated and ethically-sourced ingredients in addition to third-party lab testing. This is how you can ensure products are free from pesticides, heavy metals, and microbiological contaminants.
We follow these practices at Golden Apple Cannabis Co., and we take it one step further by strategically combining our active and non-active ingredients.
For example, we formulate our CBD products with specific plant-based fats to increase absorption (more on that below). We also carefully select each of our carriers and bases for their unique benefits and synergistic effects with CBD.
Coconut Oil and CBD
CBD is a fat-loving molecule. Basically, this means that CBD instantly and directly absorbs into your gut when combined with fat molecules. From there, it passes directly into your bloodstream to deliver its benefits throughout your body. Otherwise, CBD first passes through your liver and breaks down before your body can use it, reducing its effectiveness.
This is why coconut oil and CBD are a perfect match. Coconut oil is rich in certain saturated fats called medium-chain triglycerides (MCTs), which are easily absorbed and processed by your body. This means that when CBD is formulated with MCTs, its bioavailability increases up to three times.
Avocado oil is sometimes touted as the healthiest oil in the world. This is because it’s bursting with vitamins A, D, and E, as well as beta carotene, lecithin, and fatty acids. For skincare, studies show that avocado oil even helps increase collagen production.
When avocado oil’s antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties are combined with full spectrum CBD, it helps skin stay smooth, strong, and moisturized.
Aloe vera is nature’s powerhouse when it comes to its medicinal and healing properties. It is rich in antioxidants like vitamins A, C, and E, as well as B12, choline, folic acid, and other natural enzymes. This gives aloe vera powerful anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, and restorative properties. When combined with full spectrum CBD, they complement each other to help nourish, relieve, calm, and protect your skin.
Shea butter is rich in vitamin E, vitamin A, stearic, palmitic, linoleic, and oleic acids. It is also high in saturated fatty acids that hydrate skin and reduce inflammation. When used with full spectrum CBD, shea butter can help improve various skin conditions like acne, wrinkles, and stretch marks. It can also relieve dermatitis and even boost collagen production.
The Entourage Effect and Synergistic Terpene Blends
In a 2011 British Journal of Pharmacology article, Dr. Ethan Russo discussed the various benefits of using cannabinoids with terpenes. He found that when used together, they produce a “synergy” that improves a treatment’s effectiveness.
In the same way, you can mix terpenes and other natural compounds, like pure essential oils, to create powerful synergistic blends for common issues like skincare, pain relief, immune support, and sleep.
When combined with high-quality bases, carriers, and full spectrum CBD hemp extract, these blends work synergistically to produce powerful entourage effects.
Terpene Blends for Skin Care
Recommended terpenes for skin care include myrcene, beta-caryophyllene, and pinene. These terpenes all have properties that can help with things like sun damage, eczema and psoriasis.
When used in bases that contain aloe vera, shea butter and/or avocado oil, the combination of vitamins, fatty acids, and other active compounds creates a targeted blend that soothes, hydrates and calms skin.
Terpene Blends for Pain Relief
Terpenes like beta-caryophyllene, limonene, linalool, and myrcene have pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory effects. In our Pain Relief CBD Salve, we also add Helichrysum and Cedarwood essential oils for additional synergistic properties. These oils also contain active compounds that are proven to reduce aches, pains, and inflammation.
Terpene Blends for Immunity
You can boost your immune system with citrus terpenes like limonene and myrcene, which have proven mood-elevating and relaxing effects. When combined with turmeric and ginger (like in our Protect CBD Tincture), you add the benefit of these active compounds that combat free-radical damage and protect against the inflammation and oxidative stress that can wreak havoc on your immune system.
Terpene Blends for Sleep
Terpenes like linalool, myrcene, beta-caryophyllene, and terpinolene are known for their calming, sedative, and soothing effects. When combined with valerian root and melatonin (like in our Sleep CBD Tincture), the result is a gentle and highly effective blend for inducing sleep.
Valerian root and melatonin are long-time favorites in sleep blends. Valerian root increases the levels of a sleep neurochemical called GABA (gamma-aminobutyric acid). Similarly, melatonin helps synchronize circadian rhythms and improves the onset, duration, and quality of sleep.
Although terpenes are known for their scent properties, they also influence how we feel. One of the most fascinating characteristics of terpenes is their ability to interact and enhance other plant compounds, like cannabinoids (CBD), through the entourage effect.
Terpenes are one of many active compounds in the cannabis plant that hold a variety of different benefits. This makes terpenes powerful additions to CBD products, especially when combined with other natural active ingredients and full spectrum CBD extract.