The phrase "the whole is greater than the sum of its parts" is a useful adage when it comes to understanding the entourage effect in CBD. Think of it like this: all of the parts of a car aren’t of much use separately—that is until you put them all together.
Increasing amounts of scientific research, along with strong anecdotal evidence, suggest this idea applies to cannabinoids. In the world of cannabidiol (CBD), this phenomenon is called the entourage effect.
Let’s take a deeper look into what the entourage effect is by introducing key terms and discussing how the entourage effect works, how effects may be different between types of CBD, and ways to reap the benefits of CBD.
Key Terminology for Understanding the Entourage Effect
When trying to get an understanding of CBD and its effects, it's important to know the words, explained below, and how each concept relates to the other. This is especially helpful in understanding the entourage effect as it suggests that the greatest effect occurs when certain compounds work together.
CBD vs. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)
CBD and THC are both compounds, or cannabinoids, found in hemp plants. While CBD and THC often receive the most attention, they’re two of more than 100 naturally occurring cannabinoids that you’ll find in hemp plants. Similar to THC, CBD works throughout the brain and body, giving rise to many potential benefits.
Despite targeting similar parts of the brain as THC, CBD elicits a different response by potentially providing a sense of clear-headedness. And, CBD may even target additional parts of the brain that THC doesn’t.
Terpenes and Flavonoids
Terpenes and flavonoids are two other compounds found in hemp plants that support the benefits you may get from CBD and THC. They provide a unique aroma and flavor in addition to potential benefits achieved through their interaction with your body's endocannabinoid system.
The endocannabinoid system is a system of receptors that plays an important role in the regulation of our body’s processes and functions, including sleep, pain, mood, inflammation response, and memory. CBD and other cannabinoids interact with this system to provide benefits like relief from minor aches and pains, mild anxiety, and sleeplessness.
What Is the Entourage Effect?
So, what is the entourage effect? CBD experts believe that when multiple cannabinoids are taken together, the benefits and effects are enhanced. Basically, cannabinoids are believed to work in tandem with one another to provide the greatest range and degree of benefits.
Does the Entourage Effect Happen With All Types of CBD?
CBD comes in three forms—full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, and isolate.
Full-spectrum, or whole-plant, CBD retains all compounds which naturally occur in the hemp plant they were extracted from. This includes very small amounts of THC (<0.3%), terpenes, and flavonoids.
Broad-spectrum is similar to full-spectrum in that it retains additional compounds found in the hemp plant, including terpenes, flavonoids, and other cannabinoids. However, broad-spectrum is further refined to remove THC.
Isolate is pure, isolated CBD and doesn’t have any additional cannabinoids, though trace amounts are possible.
At this point, it hasn’t been determined which specific cannabinoids and terpenes work best together for each therapeutic need. The available research suggests that, because of the entourage effect, different products will have differing levels of efficacy, even when controlling for CBD levels.
Current evidence proposes that full-plant extracts, including full-spectrum and broad-spectrum CBD, may be the most effective because they retain many cannabinoids from the hemp plant. CBD isolate on the other hand may not provide the same level of benefits because it only retains a single cannabinoid.
Potential Cannabinoid Benefits
Many people turn to CBD to alleviate everyday aches and pains as well as mild anxiety, but how exactly does it work? Researchers continue to investigate how CBD and other cannabinoids provide benefits such as reducing occasional anxiety and easing muscle soreness.
The potential anxiety-reducing effects of CBD are believed to be mediated by CBD’s ability to activate the brain receptor for serotonin, 5-HT1A.
Another potential reason is that CBD increases the level of a specific endocannabinoid called anandamide (the “bliss chemical”). Anandamide signaling is linked to a positive mood and a sense of calm and clear-headedness. CBD inhibits the fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) which is the enzyme that breaks down anandamide. By inhibiting FAAH, CBD may enable more anandamide to be available to activate endocannabinoid receptors and promote a positive mood.
Easing Aches and Pains
While CBD doesn’t directly alleviate pain, it can reduce pain by dampening the normal inflammatory response in the body. Inflammation can trigger the sensation of pain through activation of a subset of nerve cells that carry pain signals to the brain.
There are a few things that may potentially contribute to CBD’s anti-inflammatory effects on the body:
CBD can act as a weak activator of endocannabinoid type II receptors (CB2) which have an anti-inflammatory effect.
CBD can increase anandamide levels, enhancing CB2 action and reducing the normal inflammatory responses.
Anti-inflammatory properties may be provided through CBD’s activation of TRPV1 and PPAR. This activation may decrease or inhibit the production of inflammatory cytokines, meaning it can affect the normal inflammatory response.
Discover the Benefits of CBD With Feals
Whether you’re new to CBD or are looking to try full-spectrum CBD to experience the full range of benefits hemp has to offer, Feals provides a simple, healthy, and better way to feel better. We provide thoughtful, high-quality hemp-based CBD products, including oil tinctures and mints.
These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. This article is for informational purposes only. It is not, nor is it intended to be, a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment and should never be relied upon for specific medical advice.