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Entourage Effect: What Is It And Why It Matters?

Entourage Effect

The entourage effect is a term to explain what happens when the many components and compounds of the cannabis plant interact with the human body in synergy. Harnessing this effect by using full-spectrum CBD products increases the beneficial effects of CBD. 

Entourage Effect: The Highlights

  • The entourage effect is the improved effectiveness of whole-plant cannabis preparations compared to isolated CBD.
  • The entourage effect results from the synergy between cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, and other natural components of the cannabis plant.
  • The entourage effect reduces any possible side effects of both CBD.
  • The entourage effect has been demonstrated by multiple research studies.
  • To benefit from the entourage effect, look for cannabis products labeled as whole-spectrum or full-spectrum.

What is the Entourage Effect?

The entourage effect is a term used to describe the increased effectiveness of whole cannabis plant extracts in comparison to isolated cannabinoids.

This “entourage” includes all of the cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, and other components of cannabis that have beneficial effects and work together in complex interactions. Because of the entourage effect, whole-plant cannabis products, such as full-spectrum CBD oil, are more potent and effective than isolated CBD.

One useful way to envision this effect is to think of an orchestra.

When working together, all the components of an orchestra — brass, percussion, strings, woodwinds — produce a sound that is more pleasant and harmonious than the individual instruments.

Similarly, the interplay of all the cannabinoids, terpenes, and other components of cannabis and hemp plants produce effects that are greater than the sum of their parts.

What The Research Says

The entourage effect was first discovered in a 1998 study by the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, one of the leading cannabis research centers in the world. In this study, the researchers examined the effects of 2-AG — one of the main endocannabinoids produced by the human body.

They discovered that when 2-AG was administered to mice alongside two related cannabinoid compounds, its effects, such as pain reduction, were more powerful.

This led the researchers to conclude that the activity of cannabinoids and their interaction with cannabinoid receptors can be increased by related cannabis compounds, leading them to name this phenomenon as the “entourage effect."

Evidence of the Entourage Effect

Since being demonstrated in its basic form in 1998, the entourage effect has been reported by multiple studies. For example, a 2015 animal study showed that mice given whole-plant CBD extract experienced a stronger reduction of inflammation and pain than those given pure CBD isolate.

Similarly, a 2010 British study reported the combination of THC and CBD reduced pain in cancer patients more effectively than THC alone.

Furthermore, one 2018 review by Brazilian researchers discovered that CBD-rich whole spectrum cannabis extracts were more effective than pure CBD in the treatment of epilepsy. The review found that patients who took CBD-rich extracts needed much smaller doses and had fewer side effects.

Synergy and the Entourage Effect

Another way to understand the entourage effect is to think of it as the synergy between the many components of cannabis.

In isolation, each cannabinoid, terpene, flavonoid, and other active ingredients of cannabis has its own individual effects. But when present together, they have synergistic effects that strengthen each individual chemical compound. 

Cannabinoids and Terpenes Work Together

One of the key elements of the entourage effect is the synergy between cannabinoids and terpenes.

Terpenes are natural compounds present in a wide variety of plants that give them distinct aromas. The terpenes found in cannabis, such as linalool, limonene, and pinene, have many unique effects that are not only beneficial by themselves but also enhance the effects of cannabinoids.

For example, the terpene myrcene is known to enhance passage of compounds across the blood-brain barrier. This means it can make it easier for cannabinoids to enter the brain, making them more effective.

CBD and the Entourage Effect

In relation to CBD, the entourage effect explains the greater effectiveness of full-spectrum CBD extracts — products that include all cannabis compounds alongside CBD. For this reason, full-spectrum CBD products are far more popular than CBD isolate — which is a purified form of CBD.

In addition, the entourage effect also helps reduce the side effects of CBD that become increasingly common at higher dosages, such as sleepiness and drowsiness.

Why Whole Plant Medication Matters?

Although the entourage effect refers specifically to cannabis, we can see a similar situation with any herbal remedy. In nature, herbal compounds are never present in an isolated state. Instead, they are found in their whole-plant form.

Incidentally, this is the way human civilization has used herbs for medicinal purposes for thousands of years. This helps explain why today, the vast majority of herbal supplements include the whole plant instead of a single isolated component.

The bottom line is that whole-plant medications are more effective because they make use of the interplay between all of the natural components of herbs.

The Benefits of the Entourage Effect 

As we’ve already discussed, there are many advantages to the entourage effect.

The main benefit is that full-spectrum extract cannabis products are more potent than isolated CBD. This means that any beneficial effect you’re seeking from cannabis, such as pain or anxiety reduction, will be stronger with a product that includes all of the compounds found in cannabis.

The second major benefit of the entourage effect is the reduction of the side effects of THC and CBD. Most notably, the entourage effect helps offset the intoxicating effects of THC, such as anxiety and paranoia.

In addition, the entourage effect also helps reduce the side effects of CBD.

How To Get The Entourage Effect?

To ensure you make the best use of the entourage effect, you should always look for cannabis and hemp products that include the complete range of cannabis cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids.

Such products are usually labeled as having “whole spectrum” or “full spectrum” CBD. The most popular example of a product that maximizes the entourage effect is full spectrum CBD oil.

Full Spectrum CBD Oil 

Despite what the name might suggest, the vast majority of CBD oils contain not just CBD but all of the cannabinoids and other constituents of cannabis plants.

Such products will be described as full-spectrum or whole-spectrum CBD oils, in contrast to CBD isolate. Full-spectrum CBD oil is the most popular way of ensuring you get all the amazing benefits of the entourage effect.

Entourage Effect: Parting Words

Ever since human civilization discovered cannabis, we have used it as a whole-plant medicine rather than attempting to isolate specific compounds. Thanks to modern medical research, we now have proof that this historical practice is ideal because of the entourage effect.

Despite this, some pharmaceutical companies in the cannabis industry are currently developing prescription medications that contain isolated CBD.

Just recently, for instance, the British company GW Pharmaceuticals released their version of CBD isolate called Epidiolex for the treatment of Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome, two forms of epilepsy.

Such medications certainly have their use, especially for specific, rare disorders that require very high doses of CBD. Overall, however, whole-spectrum cannabis products, such as full-spectrum CBD oils, are significantly more effective, require smaller doses, and have a lower likelihood of side effects.

Backed by thousands of years of historical use and modern medical research, whole-plant cannabis preparations make use of the holistic properties of nature.


Frequently Asked Questions


These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Always check with your doctor before starting a new dietary supplement program.

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