The primary constituents of interest in the cannabis plant (Scientific name: Cannabis Sativa) are called cannabinoids. These building blocks are what give cannabis the properties it has and are what separates it from every other plant species out there. Cannabis has been used for as long as history has been recorded, and it is these cannabinoids and the effects they elicit that explain why the plant is so popular all over the world.
In recent history, scientists across the globe have focused a lot of money, time and effort into researching what the cannabis plant does. The main effort of this research is to separate fact from fiction to gain a fuller and deeper understanding surround the facts involving cannabis’ interactions with the human body.
One such effect that has become the predominate focus of research is – The Entourage Effect.
Though most of our medicines these days comes from plants, it’s rare that we ingest them in their natural form. Mainstream medicine is inundated with pills, serums, balms, and a whole host of other things that though derived naturally have come a long way since that point. But there are those that believe backed by a growing base of evidence that suggests these medicines would have a stronger influence upon the body if they were ingested in their plant form.
This is the basis for what’s now popularly known as ‘whole plant medicine’.
The Entourage Effect describes the way that the cannabinoids work when they interact with the body. The effect is described as synergistic – which means that the effects of the cannabinoids working as a whole is greater than the effects of an individual cannabinoid on its own. There are over 100 cannabinoids that have been discovered. Two of the most famous of these cannabinoids are tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).
So, The Entourage Effect states that if you were to consume 25mg of CBD, on its own and in its purest form, the effect would be lower than if you took 25mg of CBD in a mixture that contains other cannabinoids. This doesn’t state that the CBD on its own doesn’t have any effect; only that its effects are enhanced when in the presence of other cannabinoids.
The different ways in which The Entourage Effect affects the body is: –
The short answer is – NO. Full Spectrum CBD is not always the answer as not every person is the same. People respond to different formulations of cannabinoids in different fashions. An example would be that some people report fully positive effects to THC, whereas others report only negative.
Subsequently, it has been suggested that the best way to consume cannabinoids are personally tailored quantities of each cannabinoids for each individual. Currently, this is a completely outlandish suggestion and would certainly only be unfeasible for all but the extremely rich in society. Those who can afford their own personal team of biologists and nutritionists.
It also would strongly depend upon the reason why an individual would want to consume cannabinoids. If a certain benefit is to be achieved, then maybe a formulation that has more CBD and less THC would be better across the board. However, another benefit might require a formulation that is high in THC and low in CBD. Maybe another might require a 50:50 mix.
The idea of whole plant formulation being the best for every possible scenario is fast becoming a misconception in the cannabis world. A whole-plant formulation is one that contains every single cannabinoid, terpenoid, flavonoid and other compound contained within cannabis. By suggesting that this is the ‘best’ is essentially conceding defeat into understanding the individual components of cannabis and states that you are happy to just throw a one-size-fits-all approach at fixing any potential issues or conditions.
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What’s great about this phenomenon is that it can manifest itself in a myriad of ways. As you would expect the different compounds when mixed together produce various effects on the body. There’s a fascinating study done by Ethan Russo, a neurologist invested in studying the effects cannabis compounds have upon the body. In this study, he published details how these same compounds, like terpenes, work together to influence our body.
Here are a few examples of the kinds of things terpenes could potentially help you experience according to the study. One of the terpenes, pinene, ostensibly improves cognition and memory affected by THC. Working together pinene, myrcene, and caryophyllene may contribute towards relief from anxiety. THC working with CBN (another cannabinoid) brings about sedated feelings of relaxation.
These are just a few of the examples but you get the idea. The synergies that come about from whole plant therapies are only just being understood. Really, we’ve only scratched the surface of what’s possible. In a few years time, we could have infinitely more knowledge to hand and lives may be changed.
However, we do require an increase in clinical research and scientific understanding before we are able to fully understand what formulation works where. So, you could concede that a whole plant formulation is best for general use until we have a deeper understanding of the biological action of cannabinoids. Until then, use what you feel works best for you and always consult your practitioner before making any health related changes.