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The Entourage Effect in CBD: How Do Cannabinoids Work Together?

Usually, when you take CBD oil or another CBD product, you are not only consuming the cannabidiol (CBD) compound. On the contrary, these products contain a range of different naturally-occurring compounds, in addition to CBD.

What is the entourage effect?

What’s more, these different components work in tandem. 

The way that CBD works together with the other compounds is known as the entourage effect. 

In short, components including other cannabinoids and terpenes, work together with the key ingredient CBD in order to maximise its benefits. 

In other words, these compounds work in synergy to produce better results.

In this article, we’ll cover:

  • What is the entourage effect?
  • What is the history of the entourage effect?
  • The different compounds found in CBD oil and how they work together
  • What is the difference between CBD isolate, full-spectrum, and broad-spectrum CBD?
 

It is important to understand the entourage effect when choosing CBD products, because not all products contain the same mix of components. 

Some products, like CBD isolate, are designed to contain CBD only (or as close to this as possible), while others specifically include other components in order to take advantage of the entourage effect.

You’ve probably heard the saying “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts”. This is the underlying concept of the entourage effect. 

However, does the entourage effect really work? And how does it relate to different types of CBD products: is full-spectrum, broad-spectrum or CBD isolate best?

We’ll take a closer look at the entourage effect and how it works, as well as discussing the pros and cons of full-spectrum, broad-spectrum or CBD isolate. 

Let’s start at the beginning with the history of the idea of the entourage effect.

What's in this Guide?

Who Discovered the Entourage Effect?

The entourage effect theory was first uncovered by Dr S. Ben-Shabat and his team. In the results of his 1998 study, he showed how different cannabinoids worked together to enhance their effects on the body’s endocannabinoid system

Although his research focused on cannabinoids, the theory of entourage effect can also be applied to other similar compounds and their impacts on the human body.

The Israeli researchers concluded that the entourage effect results from the combination of various cannabinoids interacting with one another to produce greater results. 

Although first introduced by Dr Ben-Shabat, the theory gained popularity after Ethan Russo talked about the entourage effect in relation to CBD in his 2011 research paper.

It is important to note that, as with many things in science, this is a theory only. Further research is needed to confirm the exact impacts and benefits of the entourage effect. 

With that in mind, let’s look at how the entourage effect is believed to work.

What is the CBD Entourage Effect?

In essence, the entourage effect theory says that the various components found in cannabis work together to increase the beneficial effects of CBD. 

CBD is a compound naturally found in the hemp plant, but it is not alone: there are also over 100 other cannabinoids, as well as terpenes and flavonoids – components that give all plants their taste and smell.

According to the theory, these compounds can produce stronger results when you take them together. This is because of the way that the different components interact with one another, creating a synergistic effect.

Experts believe that terpenes found in the hemp plants have many beneficial effects. 

We come across terpenes in our regular life; from the essential oils that are extracted from plants to the flavours added to our food, they have many uses.

There is a good reason why terpenes are included in full-spectrum CBD products. Terpenes improve the efficiency of CBD by making it easier for the body to absorb the cannabinoid, as well as having distinct benefits of their own. 

According to 2011 research, terpenes and phytocannabinoids offer great benefits when taken together for pain management, reducing anxiety and managing inflammation. 

Furthermore, 2018 research suggested that terpenes and some flavonoids have the ability to boost the benefits properties of CBD oil.

In the same way, various other cannabinoids may work with CBD to enhance its effects. 

Studies have found that the positive benefits of CBD increase when it is used in combination with other naturally-occurring cannabinoids found in the hemp plant. This may be because CBD interacts with certain endocannabinoid receptors, but does not bind to them.

On the other hand, other cannabinoid compounds can bind to receptors in the endocannabinoid system, including CB1 and CB2 receptors, allowing the CBD to be more effective. 

Additionally, many cannabinoids have their own benefits – see the next section for more on this – and so any product containing multiple cannabinoids has the potential to deliver more benefits.

Additionally, CBN, Myrcene, CBDV and beta-caryophyllene are other compounds that are extracted from the hemp plant that are believed to enhance the CBD’s effect on your body. 

However, research in this area is still in its early stages and it needs further study to demonstrate the full effects and benefits of the entourage effect.

Regardless, many people prefer broad-spectrum and full-spectrum CBD products over CBD isolate, in order to take advantage of the entourage effect. 

We’ll take a closer look at the different types of CBD products and compare their benefits later in this article, but first let’s dive deeper into the compounds that make the entourage effect possible.

The entourage effect - flavonoids, cannabinoids and terpenes acting together
But don't worry - the entourage effect with CBD oil won't get you high

What are the Different Compounds found in CBD Products?

When it comes to cannabinoids, the natural compounds found in the cannabis plant, CBD and THC are the two compounds that receive most of the attention. 

While these two are known for their interaction with the body’s endocannabinoid system, know that there are a range of compounds found in cannabis plants, and therefore in most CBD products, that affect our bodies in different ways.

These compounds include terpenes, flavonoids, fatty acids, as well as other cannabinoids. All these compounds have different properties and many interact with each other to enhance their effects.

Cannabinoids

Hemp plants contain more than 100 different cannabinoids. Each cannabinoid has its own unique properties. For example, CBG (cannabigerol) has been found to stimulate bone healing and growth as well as having antimicrobial and antifungal effects. 

Another cannabinoid, CBN (cannabinol), has also been shown to help with bone tissue growth and recovery, while CBGA (cannabigerolic acid) is believed to have analgesic effects.

Terpenes

One of the most overlooked yet crucial components of most CBD products is a group of compounds called terpenes. Terpenes are responsible for the aroma and taste of all plants, including hemp. Some of the terpenes found in hemp plants and therefore many CBD products are Linalool, Pinene, Limonene, Myrcene, and Caryophyllene.

Terpenes play two roles in CBD products. Firstly, they have their own benefits for the human body, and so deliver extra advantages to taking CBD products. Secondly, they make it easier for the body to absorb CBD. In this way, they act as part of the entourage effect to make CBD more effective.

Phytochemicals, fatty acids, and flavonoids

Cannabinoids and terpenes are not the only compounds found in cannabis plants, and some of these may also contribute to the entourage effect in CBD. Hemp plants also contain a range of phytochemicals, fatty acids, flavonoids and vitamins. 

Many of these compounds have their own effects on the endocannabinoid system, as well as interacting with other components.

To date, there is limited research about the effects of phytochemicals, fatty acids and flavonoids on the body, or their entourage effect. 

However, it seems likely that they will deliver positive benefits, further supporting the idea that a full-spectrum and broad-spectrum CBD oil will produce the best results.

What’s the Difference Between Full-Spectrum CBD, Broad-Spectrum CBD, and CBD Isolate?

There is no denying that CBD is the key and most important element of any CBD product. It is the compound that has the most significant impacts on the body’s endocannabinoid system, promoting better digestive health, better quality sleep, and helping to manage pain and anxiety. 

This has led to the development of some CBD products that contain the compound in its purest form.

There are three main types of CBD products:

  1. Full-spectrum CBD, which contains the full range of cannabinoids extracted from the hemp plant, as well as other natural components such as terpenes
  2. Broad-spectrum CBD, which is similar to full-spectrum CBD, but has had the THC completely removed
  3. CBD isolate has been refined to isolate the CBD, and does not contain any other components, including other cannabinoids or terpenes

 

Some people seek out CBD isolate as they see it as “pure” CBD, or because they want to ensure that the product contains absolutely no THC, even in trace amounts. 

However, this approach ignores the benefits of the other components that can be extracted from the hemp plant, and particularly how they work together to create the entourage effect.

If you want to get the full benefits of the entourage effect you should look for full-spectrum or broad-spectrum CBD oil. If you want to be absolutely sure that you will not consume any THC, go for a broad-spectrum product.

Any product that is sold legally in the UK, including full-spectrum CBD, will contain no more than 0.2% THC. This trace amount of the compound is not enough to have any psychoactive or addictive effects. 

However, there is a very slight risk that you may get a positive result for THC in a drug test, depending on the dosage and how long you’ve been taking it for.

  • Worried about getting a positive drug test result? Our guide to CBD and Drug Tests should answer your questions


Therefore, if you want to be absolutely sure to avoid any issues, broad spectrum or CBD isolate could be the best choice.

Different types of CBD and the entourage effect
However, only a full or broad spectrum CBD oil will provide the entourage effect

Key Takeaways

All CBD products are different, and not least because of the different types of CBD products, namely full-spectrum CBD, broad-spectrum CBD and CBD isolate. 

Although some people are drawn to CBD isolate as the “purest” form of CBD, this overlooks a very important factor: the entourage effect.

The entourage effect is the phenomenon that CBD, other cannabinoids, terpenes, and other natural components are more effective when they work together than they are on their own. 

These compounds are thought to increase the efficiency of CBD, as well as delivering their own unique benefits.

If you want to get the benefits of the entourage effect, you’ll need to use a full-spectrum or broad-spectrum CBD product. 

It is also important to note that this theory is supported by the results of preliminary studies, so further research is needed to know the full extent of the entourage effect.

Keep checking our blog for the latest news and updates, and to learn more about the benefits and effects of CBD.

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