The cannabis industry is growing rapidly thanks to an almost overnight wave of legalization across the world (at least when you look at the history of Cannabis as a whole).
Due to the unfortunate prohibition and scheduling of weed as a drug with no medical potential, studies relating to cannabis, it’s naturally occurring compounds and effects, and its cultivation have been incredibly hard to perform. As a result, research around the plant is hard to come by, and often conflicting.
Because of this speed bump in the road to discovering all the possible medical positives and negatives of cannabis, there are a lot of theories out there that take place of the desired research in the field (which is likely still to come), on all sorts of topics from cultivation, to side effects, and the efficacy of certain compounds.
One of these theories is the entourage effect. This theory states that while there are certainly therapeutic benefits to isolated compounds like THC and CBD (the most commonly known cannabinoids, as well as some of the only that have been properly researched); to gain the full medicinal benefit of the plant, one needs all of these various compounds working in tandem.
This might sound a little too wafty or holistic for some, however, there’s a lot of anecdotal evidence to support these claims. Let’s get a little deeper into the topic of the entourage effect, and take a look at some of the information surrounding it.
The entourage effect seems quite simple when explained. It claims that a full-spectrum dose of cannabis works more efficiently than an isolated extract. One could picture this as a team of workers – you might have one worker managing the pain sector of your brain, and that will work fine.
However, if you have two more holding the door open, another making coffee for the first worker to keep at it for longer, and some other workers in the back helping maintain blood flow and the speed at which everyone works, one could imagine it would be a far more efficient process.
If we look at an example pertaining more to the actual effects of cannabis, we can compare THC and CBD in isolation, versus working together. THC, when ingested on its own, is almost a stimulant – very panicky, high energy and tension, and often quite a stressful experience (hence THC isolates not being incredibly popular). CBD, on the other hand, is calming, relaxing and therapeutic, however, has no intoxicating effects.
When dosed together, for example in a joint or Rick Simpson Oil, you get a beautiful blended high where you’re stimulated and chilled, while the CBD regulates the intensity of the THC and counteracts a lot of the effects.
Now, when you take into account the plethora of other cannabinoids and terpenoids in the plant, you end up with a complex system of compounds and chemicals working together – regulating, negating and enhancing one another in various complex ways which result in a unique high (this is essentially how the difference between strains works).
What are the other cannabinoids that one can find in weed, you ask? Well, we’re here to explain.
Let’s take a look at some of the more common cannabinoids and how they affect the body. You might not have heard of many of these before, but if you’ve ever tried weed you’ve definitely ingested them.
This is the most common and abundant compound that exists in the weed plant. Its effects make up a majority of the high one experiences on cannabis. It’s a mild painkiller, and very psychoactive.
THCa is most present in raw bud. When heated (via burning, vaporization or decarboxylation if cooking), it converts into regular THC. This means it isn’t psychoactive when unheated and as such forms the reasoning behind why you can’t get high eating raw buds. It is, however, an anti-inflammatory and mildly antispasmodic.
THCV is a less common cannabinoid, found in very few strains of cannabis. It’s one of the important compounds leading cannabis growers to look at African landraces, where it naturally occurs, as potentially very important strains to cultivate. Chemically it’s extremely similar to THC, however, produces vastly different effects such as reducing panic attacks, suppressing appetite and promoting bone growth.
If you’re at all up-to-date on Cannabis, you would have heard of CBD by now. Its mechanism is quite complex and it appears that the receptors it binds to in the brain manage a number of important functions from sleep to appetite, stress, anxiety, pain and more. It’s reported that it works most effectively when applied with THC in the ideal ratio. It is created when the acidic CBDa is de-carboxylated.
CBG is a non-psychoactive compound, which has antibacterial effects which, while largely unstudied, is thought to inhibit tumors or cancerous cell growth, promote bone growth and reduce inflammation.
CBN is a semi-psychoactive compound which is a byproduct of the degradation of THC. There is almost none in fresh cannabis, and often only begins to form during curing or aging. It’s known best for creating the couchlock effect that many strains are known for.
Terpenes and terpenoids are oils that are formed naturally within the plant, which are aromatics. Many strains with specific flavours exist as such thanks to terpenes, of which the variations are in the hundreds. Responsible for the near-intoxicating smells of weed and other plants and insects, they have been reported not only to act as an aromatic but in fact enhance and alter your high.
According to a paper published in 2011 by neurologist Ethan Russo, terpenes were suggested to interact with cannabinoids in a manner that altered the effects of one another. Myrcene, for example, a prominent terpene, increases the effects of CBD and makes your more sleepy, as well as increasing the pain-relieving effects.
With many extracts, terpenes have either intentionally or accidentally been lost in the process. Should it one day be proven that the Entourage Effect has a scientific basis, we’ll likely see a change in the way extracts are manufactured. Or, perhaps even a combination of extracted terpenes and cannabinoids in the correct ratios for maximum effect. Only time will tell.
When it comes to CBD extracts, there are certainly a number available with terpenes. Now, while most manufacturers won’t be able to tell you exactly which terpenes the extract contains, nor the ratios, it’s still nice to know you can get your hands on some that are closer to the combined effects of the full plant.
The main benefits would presumably be an increase in both the effects and efficiency of the CBD extract, as well as an enhanced flavour and smell profile that may even be indicative of the original strain from which the terpenes were extracted.
While there’s still research to be done, we’d highly recommend trying a terpene-rich option if you have the opportunity, and compare it to one without.
If you’re looking for CBD Oil or extracts with terpenes, look no further! We’ve reviewed three so far, so if you’re interested, why not give one a shot:
- Soulflower CBD Vape Juice (CBD e-juice for your electronic cigarette)
- Cibdol Oil (A Real, Medical Grade Swiss CBD Oil)
- White Cedar Organic Raw Hemp Extract (An edible full spectrum hemp extract)
As you can probably tell after reading this article, it’s really hard to discern which information regarding cannabinoid and terpenoid research is viable and trustworthy, and which isn’t. As such we’ve tried to offer fair evidence from all sides, and be clear about what makes up part of researched, scientific facts – and what’s just talk.
We simply can’t wait for a future where all this information is well-studied, researched and backed up, so that we may all reach a pinnacle in both recreational and medicinal cannabis.