The Entourage Effect
There is something special that happens when you combine multiple compounds of the cannabis plant together. It’s called the “entourage effect,” and it refers to the combined effect of cannabinoids (THC, CBD, etc.) and terpenes on our bodies, and specifically on our endocannabinoid systems (more on this in our next newsletter). Over 200 terpenes have been identified in the cannabis plant. They are what give the different strains distinctive aromas and flavors, and they also have therapeutic characteristics of their own. When combined, cannabinoids and terpenes produce an effect that is greater than the sum of their parts.
A good example of how terpenes can enhance cannabis is in low-THC strains. A strain that only contains 15% THC may have a high amount of the terpene Pinene, a piney smelling terpene found in strains like Jack Herer (Sativa) and OG Kush (Indica dominant). The low percentage of THC alone may not give the desired effect of being uplifting, however, when considering a high percentage of Pinene, the effects are much more enhanced. Pinene can also help reduce inflammation and acts as a bronchodilator. The medicinal properties of terpenes should be considered when choosing a cannabis strain to treat specific conditions. Next time you’re looking for a new strain to try, take time to smell the lower THC strains to see if the terpene profile is attractive to you. Oftentimes, the nose knows which strain might be right for you!
The entourage effect also refers to the use of THC and CBD (or other cannabinoids) together to address certain conditions. For instance, many people with chronic pain have discovered combining the non-psychoactive CBD with THC is much more effective at reducing their pain than using one or the other cannabinoid separately. Ratios of CBD to THC will vary from 1:1 (equal amounts) to 30:1 (high-CBD, low-THC) and can be found in products such as tinctures, capsules, and edibles. The small amount of THC in a 30:1 product will not be enough to cause a psychoactive effect, but it will boost the healing properties of the CBD. The lower ratio products (1:1, 2:1, 4:1) often work better for therapeutic purposes but can produce a mild psychoactive effect, while the higher ratios are great for anxiety and depression issues without causing impairment. Everyone reacts differently to cannabis products so you may need to try a few different ratios before finding the one that works the best for you.
Understanding the synergistic relationship between cannabinoids and terpenes is the key to knowing how these compounds interact with our bodies.