November 05, 2020 3 min read
Even casual smokers realize that each cannabis strain has unique effects and that the experience can be different even when smoking the same strain that’s harvested at a different time or grown by a different farmer. The effects of cannabis on the human body are extremely complex, somewhat unpredictable, and there is still a lot to learn. If you’re one of the many marijuana enthusiasts that wonder why certain strains are better for treating certain illnesses or how THC, CBD, and terpenes work together to produce specific effects, you’re not alone. Though still unproven, the most widely believed explanation for the varying effects and benefits of marijuana is the entourage effect. Learning about this theory can help you choose the right marijuana strain for your symptoms and allow you to better understand the unique complexities of the green goddess.
It has been known for centuries that cannabis causes many beneficial effects on the human body and mind. While so many people use cannabis in their daily lives for these exact reasons, there is still very little known as to why and how this occurs. The entourage effect is a widespread theory that all the active compounds in the cannabis plant such as terpenes and cannabinoids are working in unison to produce the multi-dimensional effects potheads know and love. The idea is that each chemical compound generates certain effects by themselves, however when combined with other compounds, such as the hundreds that can be found in the cannabis plant, the effects are better. Proponents of the theory highlight the fact that marijuana has pervading benefits that can help treat dozens of issues and illnesses from stress and anxiety to chronic pain, insomnia, PTSD, and epilepsy and that certain cannabis strains with unique chemical profiles are better at treating certain illnesses than others.
To understand the entourage effect, you need to know at least the basics about the chemical compounds known as cannabis terpenes and cannabinoids. While cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are the most talked about cannabinoids, it’s estimated that there are hundreds of these naturally produced active chemical compounds found only in the cannabis plant. Out of all of these, THC happens to be the only known compound responsible for psychoactive effects or getting you high. Terpenes on the other hand are also created naturally but occur in all plants and are responsible for the smells and tastes associated with leaves, fruits, and flowers. There are over 20,000 different kinds of terpenes found in plants with roughly 100 known to be present in cannabis. Myrcene is the most common terpene in pot and produces a scent similar to clove along with calming and mild sedative effects.
The entire entourage effect theory revolves around the fact that terpenes and cannabinoids are working together and canceling out some of the negative effects produced by others. It’s extremely difficult to study many of these chemical compounds since they are found in such trace amounts, adding to the difficulty of researching and possibly proving that the entourage effect is real.
While there hasn’t been much research into this topic specifically, anyone with experience consuming pot will tell you that the cannabis entourage effect is real. It makes sense and is the best way to explain the role of chemical compounds and how effects are created. Just look at two of the most well-known cannabinoids, THC and CBD, which we know have very different effects when consumed separately. A study from 2010 tested the effects of pure THC versus a 1:1 ratio of CBD to THC on the pain levels of cancer patients. While THC alone showed no change in pain, patients in the blind test that were given the CBD and THC mix reported that they felt less pain. It is believed by many that CBD and THC work better together and that CBD helps to reduce some of the negative effects often associated with THC such as anxiety and hunger.
When choosing your next cannabis strain to try out, look not only at the levels of THC and CBD, but also at the terpene profile (this will require some online research ahead of time). The unique terpene profile of a strain is more indicative of its potential benefits and effects than looking at THC and CBD alone. Remember to look at the makeup in its entirety since all of these naturally produced compounds are working together. Nature is amazing right?
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