The cannabis plant produces many unique chemical compounds that, when applied medicinally, set the plant apart from most modern medicines. Today, scientists have identified over 85 different unique molecules in cannabis known as cannabinoids, which include THC and CBD. The plant also produces many other non-cannabinoid compounds that have shown promise in regulating the body’s endocannabinoid system.
A gang of goodies
In addition to cannabinoids, the cannabis plant produces terpenes. Terpenes are mostly known for giving cannabis its unique smell, but they also have regulatory effects. In some cases, terpenes block cannabinoid receptors in the brain, and in other cases, they promote cannabinoid absorption.
THC and CBD have gotten a lot of the attention as the cannabis plant’s main products, terpene science is showing that they work together with the cannabinoids to enhance their effects – this interaction is known as the “entourage effect.”
By now, I hope you understand the difference between indica and sativa strains of cannabis. If you don’t, check out this article for an explanation.
There are thousands of different strains of cannabis and each one can have a different effect on the consumer. Some strains make you feel calm and relaxed, probably an indica, while others give you energy and sometimes anxiety, probably sativas. The distinction between these effects is found in the individual strain’s chemical profile.
The chemical components include, but are not limited to, terpenes, ketones, esters, lactones, alcohols, fatty acids, and steroids. When all of these components are consumed at once, they interact with each other, and ultimately the endocannabinoid system, to produce unique results.
If you were to isolate one of the chemical components and remove it from your cannabis, you may experience a completely different result. This is the entourage effect showing it’s full force.
If you use cannabis concentrates or edibles, you will really understand the entourage effect. When you smoke marijuana flower, you are generally getting the entire chemical profile that the plant has to offer. However, when you consume concentrates or edibles, some of the chemical constituents of the plant are isolated and removed. This is why the experience you have from smoking Blue Dream concentrate can be significantly different from smoking Blue Dream flower – and is certainly different from eating an edible infused with Blue Dream oil.
This is why the experience you have from smoking Blue Dream concentrate can be significantly different from smoking Blue Dream flower – and is certainly different from eating an edible infused with Blue Dream oil.
Take a look at this video. It shows the entourage effect by giving THC isolate and then introducing CBD isolate.
Synthetic THC and the entourage effect
I recently wrote an article on some of the pharmaceutical drugs that have been developed from cannabis. The article points out that most of the drugs on the market utilize synthetic THC and contain little to no other cannabinoids or terpenes.
The FDA approved one of these drugs, Marinol, in 1985 for treating the side effects of chemotherapy. However, many doctors and patients agree that Marinol is a poor substitute for cannabis, perhaps because its synthetic THC is operating in the body without the assistance of the other cannabinoids and chemicals that our bodies need to achieve the desired results. Medical marijuana activist and neurosurgeon Dr. Sanjay Gupta explains,
“When the drug became available in the mid-1980s, scientists thought it would have the same effect as the whole cannabis plant. But it soon became clear that most patients preferred using the whole plant to taking Marinol. Researchers began to realize that other components, such as CBD, might have a larger role than previously realized.”
Whole plant cannabinoid extracts
Today, scientists and medical practitioners are finding that whole-plant cannabis extracts are superior to isolates in their medical application. These findings are almost certainly related to the logic of the entourage effect. THC and CBD can stand alone in their recreational applications, but as medicine, it seems imperative for these cannabinoids to be introduced with other chemical compounds naturally found in the cannabis plant.
Next time you are using concentrates, take note of the ingredients. Pay close attention to the listed terpenes and cannabinoid percentages. Compare the effects of consuming concentrates with those of consuming flower. There is something to the gang of cannabinoids that work together to stimulate your mind, body, and soul!
Have you noticed the entourage effect when consuming different forms of cannabis? Let us know on social media or in the comments section below.