As we see a growing excitement around the world with regards to medical marijuana and hemp – the benefits already identified, as well as those still to be discovered – CBD is becoming a buzz word. CBD, or Cannabidiol is one of the compounds that is found in abundance in the Cannabis Sativa plant and is taking the world by storm.
There are over 100 significant cannabinoids in the hemp plant, of which CBD is only one, however. So, what of the other cannabinoids? Although researchers are generally focussed on CBD and THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol) – the two most notable cannabinoids – the other compounds can also have an effect on the human body.
What is the Entourage Effect?
The Entourage or Ensemble Effect is the name given to the phenomenon of a given substance acting differently when taken in conjunction with other substances. In the case of CBD and hemp, this refers to compounds and aromatic molecules in the plant.
This means that if you take pure CBD alone, it might not be as effective than if you take it with other compounds in the plant.
This is a concept which is not new to the world of herbal medicine. Traditional Chinese and Ayurvedic medicine is based around the idea of the Entourage Effect or ‘whole plant’ medicine. In fact, even in the western world, chemical-based medicines have only been in common use relatively recently, and botanicals and herbal medicine have been used since the beginning of time.
The Entourage Effect is known as a ‘synergistic effect’ and basically means that taking a whole plant extract can have more of an effect than taking just CBD alone.
In maths terms, we could say that two compounds being taken separately would be represented as 2+2=4, but if taken together, it would be represented as 2×2=8.
The Entourage Effect can be explained like a music band. Whilst every instrument on their own sounds good, when you put them altogether, along with a great sound crew, it sounds fantastic.
THC, Phyto Cannabinoids and the Entourage Effect
THC is one of the natural Phyto cannabinoids that is found in the Cannabis plant – but has been cultivated to be present in lower levels in the hemp plant. This is because it is psychoactive and can make you high when taken in higher doses. THC is also the compound which many countries and states have made illegal.
However, research shows that THC can have a number of health benefits, which are different to those from CBD as they interact with different receptors in the endocannabinoid system. The Entourage Effect means, that according to research, if THC is taken in conjunction with CBD, you can get the same medicinal benefits from THC, but the CBD can dampen down the psychoactive effects.
Research also shows that this works both ways. If you take CBD products which are made from extract of the full hemp plant, the CBD element can be more effective than if you take pure CBD only.
Other cannabinoids which are found in the hemp plant – in addition to THC – can also make the CBD more effective.
What are Terpenes?
Terpenes are aromatic molecules which are commonly used in aromatherapy. They are what gives cannabis its distinctive smell but can also have important therapeutic properties. This is why, when you buy full hemp extract or full spectrum CBD oil, you will often find that they include terpenes from the hemp plant.
There are about 200 terpenes present in the hemp plant, although only a few have levels which can affect people. They can not only interact with the receptors of the Endocannabinoid system, but also have their own properties which are beneficial to good health and well-being. For example, the terpene, Beta-caryophyllene, has many health benefits and can also be found in green vegetables, black pepper and oregano. It is, in fact one of the reasons why green vegetables are so healthy to us.
By taking CBD products which also include terpenes, therefore, you will also benefit from their effects.
What are Flavonoids
Flavonoids are the compounds which affect the plant’s colour, prevents plant diseases and filters out UV rays amongst other things. They can also be very beneficial to humans, with some of them being an anti-oxidant, as well as having anti-inflammatory properties.
Full Spectrum vs Broad Spectrum vs Isolate CBD Products
Anyone who has been looking to buy CBD products will have noticed that there are usually three different kinds on offer –
- Full spectrum
- Broad spectrum
These different types of CBD product refer to the other compounds which are added to the CBD (or, perhaps, more accurately, not taken out of the hemp extract).
Full spectrum CBD products are made from the whole hemp plant – so will include the cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, and all of the plant’s essential oils. This means that by taking full spectrum CBD oil, you will benefit from the full Entourage Effect.
Depending on the laws where you are, you should be careful to check that THC levels are lower than the legal limit to ensure that you don’t get into trouble with the law.
Isolate CBD is as pure a CBD product that you can get. It is produced by extracting only the CBD from the hemp plant and shouldn’t include any other cannabinoids, terpenes or flavonoids. Due to the fact that there will be negligible if not, no THC at all, it is completely legal.
Broad Spectrum CBD products are placed somewhere between isolate and full spectrum. They offer CBD with a broad range of other cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids but without THC. This means that users can largely benefit from the Entourage Effect but staying completely within legal boundaries on THC levels and not risk the ‘high’ which is associated with cannabis.
Although the Entourage Effect can be beneficial to many people, full or broad-spectrum CBD products are not always the best option for everyone. Everybody is different, with different requirements so it is advisable to either speak to your doctor before you try, or experiment with the different types to find out which is the most effective to you.