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The Entourage Effect: the Essence of Synergy

There are hundreds of natural components found in cannabis, 66 alone which are classified as unique to the plant. And although there is no disputing the profound and positive impact on the body’s receptor system, scientists are still trying to figure out exactly how those chemical compounds interact with each other and with the human body. What we do know is that cannabinoids affect many important functions in the endocannabinoid system in our bodies. CBD for instance has pain relieving, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory and anti-nausea effects, while CBDV has been shown to be helpful in the management of epileptic seizures and CBC has antifungal and anticonvulsant properties– and so on. Most fascinating though is the research around the cannabis plant’s interaction with itself and how when certain isolated components are combined together, they produce a greater more tangible benefit to the user. This interactive synergy is known as the entourage effect.

The synergistic effect between compounds is nothing new. Traditional Chinese practitioners have been treating specific problems with herb concoctions for centuries. The concept, while not exact, is similar to the way the entourage effect works. The term “entourage effect” was first used decades ago by two Israeli scientists Shimon Ben-Shabat and Raphael Mechoulam. They realized that cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant actually work in a similar way as the body’s own endocannabinoid system- which is to say that each cannabinoid has a different and beneficial effect in our body. In this specific study it was the cannabinoid tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) which was responsible for those benefits but the same patients also reported a heightened psychotropic effect which made them feel “stoned”.  Since Cannabidiol (CBD) is known to modulate the effect of THC on the human body, the same dose was blended with it resulting in that same patient group reporting the same benefits minus the unwanted side effect of the THC.

While researchers agree that more studies are needed to understand the entourage effect, many can attest that the heightened efficacy when compounds operate together is real and not imagined.  Not only can this be seen between CBD and THC but also in how terpenes and flavonoids increase the cerebral blood flow, impacting the blood-brain barrier; another way in which cannabinoids work together.  Everyone agrees that as a whole we have only begun to scratch the surface and that the field is wide open for greater exploration and development.

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