What Is the Entourage Effect and Can It Be Achieved with CBD Products?
Whether you’re new to CBD products or have been using them a while, you may be wondering whether your body is achieving what is known as the entourage effect or whether it’s unique to cannabis alone. Endocannabinoid receptors are distributed all throughout the central nervous system and the organs, and can bind equally well with endogenously produced and plant-based cannabinoids.
However, when broad-spectrum CBD oil is consumed, the mixture of all the nutritious substances it contains creates synergistic relationships from which new or more potent healing properties can emerge. As the hundreds of cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids and essential fatty acids in CBD oil interact with the human endocannabinoid system and each other simultaneously, they produce health effects that are stronger than what the individual ingredients could produce either separately or cumulatively.
The cascade of synergistic reactions associated with broad-spectrum CBD oil use is collectively known as the entourage effect. It arises from the complementary relationships that develop between the various compounds in CBD oil, which possess similar health-enhancing characteristics.
Since CBD is by far the most abundant chemical substance in CBD oil, it is the healing capacities of CBD that are most amplified by the entourage effect. Nevertheless, the active substances in CBD oil all work together to bring out the best in each other, producing wellness-enhancing outcomes that pure CBD isolates, or isolates of any other ingredient in CBD oil, would be incapable of delivering.
Entourage Effect Contributor #1: The Cannabinoids
The hemp plant contains more than 100 different types of cannabinoids, all of which can interact with the endocannabinoid system. Outside of CBD, none are available in large quantities in broad-spectrum CBD oil. But they can still produce health benefits, especially if their impact is magnified through the entourage effect.
Most of these cannabinoids have not been extensively studied. However, one that has been well researched is cannabigerol (CBG), which is produced by the same precursor chemical as CBD. This compound comprises less than one percent of the hemp plant’s total mass, but can still have a positive impact on human health.
Numerous studies have shown that CBG can help defend against neurodegenerative conditions. For example, a 2018 in vitro study found that CBG was effective at reducing inflammation and neuronal death in brain cells. It was also highly efficient at renewing anti-oxidant defense systems inside those cells. Earlier studies, published in 2014 and 2015, found that CBG could counteract some of the deleterious neural effects associated with multiple sclerosis and Huntington’s disease.
CBG is also a highly effective painkiller. One 2017 study assessed CBG’s pain-relieving capacity and discovered that CBG was a more potent painkiller than THC. It also did a superior job of blocking inflammation, which is linked to chronic pain along with a host of other serious medical conditions.
Research into the impact of CBG on cancer has also produced some intriguing data. One 2014 experiment found that CBG could inhibit the growth of colorectal cancer cells, through its stabilizing impact on a type of receptor (TRPM8) that has also been linked to prostate, breast, pancreatic, skin, and bladder cancer. In a more recent 2020 study, Israeli researchers discovered that CBG could suppress tumor growth in human gastrointestinal cancer cells.
Entourage Effect Contributor #2: The Terpenes
Terpenes are the chemical compounds that give plants their strong and distinctive aromas. They possess significant therapeutic qualities and also function as a key driver of the entourage effect.
The complete chemical profile of various CBD products will differ to some extent. Their content depends on the strain of hemp plant from which they were derived and the methodologies used to process the CBD oil.
There are more than 150 terpenes in the hemp plant. Some of the most common (with potential health benefits listed) include:
- Myrcene. The most common terpene in the hemp plant, it can reduce chronic pain and inflammation.
- Limonene. The next most common terpene in CBD oil can help regulate mood and reduce anxiety, and also has strong antibacterial and antifungal properties.
- Linalool. This abundant terpene has a strong relaxing or sedating effect, and can help relieve anxiety and depression.
- Pinene. This compound has advanced anti-inflammatory capacities and can improve respiratory functioning.
- Caryophyllene. This versatile terpene has the ability to reduce pain and inflammation, lower anxiety and even help dampen alcohol withdrawal symptoms.
- Eucalyptol. This terpene can fight fungal or bacterial infections and possibly help counteract cognitive decline.
- Alpha-bisabolol. This compound can help combat bacterial infections and also has notable analgesic and antioxidant properties.
- Terpineol. This CBD oil element can cause deep relaxation and also function as a powerful anti-bacterial agent.
- Trans-nerolidol. This multifaceted terpene has anti-parasitic and anti-fungal properties, and is a powerful antioxidant that has demonstrated the capacity to suppress the growth of cancer cells.
- Geraniol. This terpene is a potent antioxidant with impressive neuroprotective properties.
- Delta 3 Carene. This terpene can help improve or restore memory, and it can also facilitate more rapid healing of wounds or other injuries.
This is just a partial list of the terpenes that can be found in varying amounts in broad-spectrum CBD oil. While most are present in trace quantities, they likely all possess at least a small degree of healing or wellness-enhancing qualities.
Entourage Effect Contributor #3: The Flavonoids
Flavonoids are an underrated and underappreciated contributor to the entourage effect. These chemical compounds are responsible for the bright colors displayed by fruits and vegetables, and are also frequently found in a number of other foods that are known to possess health-restoring properties.
There are about 20 types of flavonoid in hemp plants. Most notable are the cannaflavins—A,B, and C—which are unique to hemp and cannabis and have been shown in various studies to provide a range of health benefits.
The anti-inflammatory qualities of cannaflavins were first demonstrated in studies that took place in the 1980s. This early research found that Cannaflavin A and B could be highly effective antidotes to pain, producing analgesic effects that were 30 times as strong as aspirin in some instances.
Cannaflavins A and B belong to a class of flavonoids known as flavones. Research has shown that flavones can help protect the central nervous system, including the brain, from impairment and deterioration. Flavones also have robust anti-oxidizing capacities, which is one of the primary characteristics of flavonoids of all types.
The most exhaustive study of the health impact of flavonoids was performed in Denmark, and its results were revealed for the first time in 2019. Danish medical authorities followed more than 56,000 people over the course of 23 years, tracking flavonoid consumption habits and mortality rates. It was discovered that regular ingestion of flavonoids from various dietary sources reduced death rates associated with cardiovascular disease and cancer by a notable degree, and was also linked to a lower mortality rate for all causes overall.
Entourage Effect Contributor #4: The Omega Fatty Acids
The list of hidden gems in CBD oil includes Omega-3 and Omega-6 fatty acids. These polyunsaturated fats are vitally important to the human body, which cannot function at an optimal peak if they aren’t present in adequate quantities.
Although the body needs both types, Omega-3 acids are the more beneficial of the two. They can help prevent heart disease and stroke, reduce inflammation associated with skin disorders like acne, psoriasis and eczema, work to maintain a healthy hormonal balance and may even possess some cancer-fighting properties. They also directly support the functioning of the body’s endocannabinoid system, helping to produce endocannabinoids and maintain homeostasis in the system as a whole.
Omega-6 fatty acids can improve brain functioning, spur muscle growth and support a good hormone balance. However, they can be inflammatory if consumed in excessive quantities, which they too often are in the typical American diet.
Fortunately, broad-spectrum CBD oil contains just the right amount of both types. Medical authorities recommend a diet that includes at least one Omega-3 molecule for every four Omega-6 molecules consumed, and CBD oil actually outdoes this by cutting the ratio down to just three to one.
Science Is Verifying the Entourage Effect
Much more research needs to be done to establish the reality of the entourage effect in laboratory settings. However, the studies performed so far have produced promising results.
In a 2015 research study published in the Journal of Pharmacology and Pharmacy, scientists from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem compared the anti-pain and anti-inflammatory properties of pure CBD isolate with those of a CBD-enriched extract, the latter of which was loaded with multiple cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids.
It is already known that CBD isolate will only function effectively against pain up to a point. If dosages are continuously increased, its utility will eventually decline.
But this experiment proved that there is no such limit when the CBD isolate is replaced with CBD extract. When CBD is administered along with a full complement of cannabinoids, terpenes and other hemp plant compounds, doses can be indefinitely increased without no loss of painkilling potency.
“It is likely that other components in the extract synergize with CBD to achieve the desired anti-inflammatory action that may contribute to overcoming the bell-shaped dose-response of purified CBD,” the Israeli researchers wrote, perfectly describing how the entourage effect functions.
In the September 2018 edition of the journal Frontiers in Neurology/Neuropharmacology, three Brazilian scientists introduced the results of a meta-analysis that compared the relative effectiveness of CBD isolate and CBD extract when used to treat the symptoms of epilepsy. Their data was obtained from 670 patients who participated in 11 separate experiments, and all suffered from forms of epilepsy that had proven resistant to standard treatments.
The Brazilian researchers discovered that 71 percent of the participants who’d used cannabinoid- and terpene-rich extracts had experienced a reduction in seizure frequency. In contrast, 46 percent of those who’d taken purified CBD isolate had experienced improvement in their conditions.
Both numbers were impressive, given that all study participants were suffering from treatment-resistant disorders. But the CBD extract outperformed the CBD isolate by more than 50 percent, demonstrating the efficiency of entourage effect dynamics.
Notably, the dosage levels administered to those who took the CBD extract were substantially lower than the dosage levels for those who took the CBD isolate (6 mg/kg/day versus 25.3 mg/kg/day), which is yet another indicator of the potency of the entourage effect.
The Entourage Effect Unleashed
Even without the entourage effect, broad-spectrum CBD products would offer a substantially wider range of benefits than CBD isolates. As an emerging body of research is making clear, the cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids and fatty acids in hemp-derived, broad-spectrum CBD oil all have important therapeutic capacities to add to the final product.
From the standpoint of the CBD oil consumer, the entourage effect is like an unexpected bonus. Because of the entourage effect, in broad-spectrum CBD the whole is greater than the sum of the parts, which is impressive considering how significant the sum of the parts may be.
Made from superior CBD extract harvested from the most carefully cultivated hemp plants, Zen Garden Organics’ broad-spectrum tinctures and softgels are customized to take full advantage of the synergistic impact of the entourage effect. Our quality control procedures are second-to-none, and you’ll enjoy all the benefits you’re seeking when you choose to shop with us.
By: Nathan Falde