The Entourage Effect: CBD's Dream Team

The Entourage EffectWhen you think of an entourage, you probably envision a group of assistants, bodyguards and stylists who follow celebrities around and attend to their every need. In short, they help the celebrity be his or her best. Cannabinoids — the active constituents of cannabis — have an entourage, too, but they don’t book venues or do makeup. Instead, this entourage consists of compounds naturally found in cannabis that either amplify or dial down the effects of cannabinoids, hence the name, the “entourage effect.”

Every Star Needs an Entourage

A simple way to explain the entourage effect is the old adage that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. This means that the individual components of the whole cannabis herb work together to create a synergy not seen when the plant compounds are isolated. From a therapeutic perspective, cannabidiol (CBD) is the celebrity of cannabis, and terpenes (aromatic organic compounds), are the primary members of its entourage. By bonding with CBD, terpenes are thought to magnify its benefits.

How Terpenes and Cannabinoids Work Together

Neurologist and cannabis researcher Dr. Ethan Russo coined the term “entourage effect.” Dr. Russo thinks cannabinoids and terpenes “could produce synergy” with respect to many of CBD’s actions.[1] For example, the terpene myrcene may help cannabinoids such as CBD cross the blood-brain barrier.[2] This is why full-spectrum CBD oil from hemp, which naturally contains terpenes, is considered preferable to isolated CBD preparations.

The Omega-3 Connection

In addition to cannabinoids and terpenes, full-spectrum CBD oil contains numerous beneficial compounds such as Omega-3 fatty acids, plant sterols, vitamin E and chlorophyll.[3] It isn’t fully understood yet how all these compounds work together, but we do know that your body’s endocannabinoid system uses Omega-3 fatty acids to make its own cannabinoids and to absorb the cannabinoids you ingest.[4] In addition, when animals are deprived of Omega-3s, their CB1 receptors for cannabinoids stop working properly.[5] That’s a big clue as to how important Omega-3s are to cannabinoid efficacy.

The bottom line is that the components of CBD oil work as a team. And just like a pop star, CBD needs its whole team to perform its best.

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[1] Russo EB. Brit J Pharmacol. 2011;163:1344-64.
[2] Rahn B. Leafly. 2015 Oct 28.
[3] Leafly. 2015 Sep 28.
[4] Science Daily. 2017 Jul 18.
[5] Lafourcade M, et al. Nat Neurosci. 2011 Jan 30;14(3):345-50.