History, Science and Use-Cases
In the context of CBD oil, the Entourage Effect is something to always keep in mind when purchasing CBD and hemp products. The Entourage Effect refers to the beneficial effect of the synergistic interaction of all the different cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, and fatty acids of the cannabis plant working together to produce stronger effects, compared to if they were just introduced to the body alone.In other words, when ingesting multiple components of the cannabis plant simultaneously as opposed to just one or two components working in isolation, you benefit from the Entourage Effect.
The cannabis plant itself contains over 500 different compounds, including around 100 distinct naturally-occurring phytocannabinoids, such as THC and CBD.CBD and all other cannabinoids interact with the body through the endocannabinoid system, which plays a part in regulating physiological processes such as appetite, pain sensation, mood, and memory. Cannabinoids that enter the body interact with the endocannabinoid system by binding to CB1 and CB2 receptors found throughout the body. CB1 receptors are found in the brain and nervous system, and CB2 receptors are found throughout the immune system and related organs.
Cannabis terpenes share a precursor with cannabinoids and therefore interact with the body’s endocannabinoid receptors in a similar way. Studies are currently being done that show terpenes have their own unique therapeutic benefits that contribute to the Entourage Effect. Particular focus is being placed on terpene-cannabinoid interactions that could produce synergistic effects to help better treat pain, inflammation, depression, anxiety, epilepsy, and cancer.
The Entourage Effect was first theorized in 1998 by Israeli scientists Shimon Ben-Shabat and Raphael Mechoulam. They proposed that fatty acids occurring in the cannabis plant enhanced cannabinoid activity in the body. Through their experiments, they showed that alone, certain cannabinoids would not bind to the body’s cannabinoid receptors, thus producing no effects; however, when cannabinoids were introduced together with fatty acids, binding to the body’s cannabinoid receptors increased.In 2009, scientists H. Wagner and G. Ulrich-Merzenich authored a study that further expanded on Shabat and Mechoulam’s Entourage Effect theory.
They defined the four basic mechanisms of the Entourage Effect as:
- The ability to affect many different targets and areas of the body;
- The ability to improve the absorption of the active ingredients by the body;
- The ability to better overcome bacterial defense mechanisms; and
- The ability to minimize adverse side effects
For years, our ancestors have used the cannabis plant medicinally and therapeutically. Until recent studies such as these, we didn’t exactly understand how cannabis’ effects were being produced in the body. It wasn’t until 1964 that we knew what THC was and what it was responsible for; and it wasn’t until after that that the CB1 and CB2 receptors were first discovered. We are still working towards a full understanding of how cannabis and its various components, including terpenes, interact with the human body.
What Exactly Are Terpenes?
Terpenes actually occur in all plants naturally, not just cannabis. They are aromatic compounds responsible for each plant’s unique smell. Common terpenes found in nature that you’ve most certainly encountered include limonene, found in all citrus fruits, and linalool, found in lavender.
Terpenes have a therapeutic effect on the human body, and the centuries-old practice of aromatherapy is based on terpenes.Cannabis terpenes are responsible for each strain’s own distinct smell. Around 200 different terpenes have been found in cannabis, but only a few are in high enough concentrations to be detected by the nose. Beta-caryophyllene, for example, is a common terpene that’s found in black pepper, oregano, and yes, cannabis. It is gastro-protective, good for treating certain ulcers, and offers great promise as a therapeutic compound for inflammatory conditions and autoimmune disorders because it binds directly to the CB2 receptor.
Terpenes have a wide range of therapeutic attributes and effects. Unfortunately, many of these effects can be lacking in most “CBD-only” products, since they aren’t as terpene-rich. Many people are turning to whole-plant extracts more frequently to ensure that achieve the complete Entourage Effect.
Why CBD Isolate?
CBD Isolate in itself has many therapeutic uses, and the many people looking for Zero THC, CBD-Only products mean it’s a market continuing to grow by demand. CBD isolate usually comes in two types of different forms: crystals or powder. Crystals aren’t as fine and can only be used dabbing (vaporizing). Powdered CBD isolate is made of a fine dust of pulverized crystals and can be used in many different manners.
CBD that comes in an isolate form, devoid of any other cannabinoids, has many benefits and effects, including:
- Nausea and vomiting reduction
- Seizure activity suppression
- Inflammation reduction
CBD isolate can be used as part of a treatment regimen for:
- Epileptic disorders
- Parkinson’s Disease
The benefit of using CBD to achieve these effects is that you are consuming CBD in its most concentrated, powerful form, to best target your symptoms. Everybody’s body is different though and finding the right CBD product, whether its isolate or employs the Entourage Effect through a whole plant extract is important.