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The Entourage Effect

What is the CBD Entourage Effect?

Modified Date: November 9, 2019

Most cannabis research and products focus on the two most well-known phytocannabinoids—CBD and THC. However, in addition to these two main chemicals, cannabis contains over 100 other beneficial compounds.

Entourage Effect

The term ‘Entourage Effect’ refers to the synergistic results experienced by users when the main compounds in cannabis are combined with these other, lesser-known trace chemicals.  

It has also been referred to as the ensemble effect. Along with THC and CBD, cannabis contains terpenes, flavonoids, and fatty acids. The terms ‘whole plant medicine’ and ‘full plant extract‘ are used for formulations containing several of these cannabis compounds.

The term was coined when Dr. Ethan Russo first began writing about the effects of cannabinoids and terpenes in 2008. His research into the effects of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)  led him to discover that the psychoactive effects of THC were nullified when CBD was added in equal ratios.

Many researchers believe that the inclusion of these chemical compounds has substantial importance.  In the final CBD product, it can result in the human body achieving a state of homeostasis.

It is thought that CBD products that retain all of the compounds in the hemp plant can offer a more powerful therapeutic effect than just cannabidiol (CBD) alone.

This is not a proven theory as of yet, and there is still much research to be done within the field of cannabis medicine  There are so many avenues to explore when it comes to cannabis. It is likely that scientists will be uncovering the health benefits of CBD oil for decades to come.

We don’t know precisely how the entourage effect works in different formulations.  But we are beginning to understand more about the beneficial effects of these complementary elements of the plant. Here are brief descriptions of the main trace compounds found in cannabis, including what value these trace elements can offer.


Terpenes are the compounds responsible for the fragrance given off by a plant. These are oils secreted in the resin of the flower. The aroma of any plant (not just cannabis) will depend on the dominant terpenes it contains.

Cannabis contains hundreds of terpenes, but most of them are present in such small quantities that they are of little consequence. For pharma purposes, the concentration of a terpene should be higher than 0.05%. Generally, the main terpenes of the cannabis plant include Pinene, Myrcene, Limonene, Humulene, Linalool, and Caryophyllene.

Several factors can influence the formation and retention of terpenes in a plant. During cultivation, exposure to light can increases production, while an increase in soil fertility can negatively affect production.

Other factors that can affect the yield of the terpenes are drying and storage. Out of the terpenes mentioned above, monoterpenes limonene, myrcene, and pinene are the most abundant terpenes in the cannabis plant.  

But the yield of these three decreases when they are dried and stored. As a result, caryophyllene becomes proportionately more abundant in the product.

In the flower, terpenes repel insects, while inside our body, terpenes can bind to the cannabinoid receptors of the brain. Here are the sources, effects, and uses of each of the most prominent terpenes found in the cannabis plant:

Myrcene: Myrcene enhances the psychoactivity of THC. Other sources of the oil include citrus, bay leaves, and thyme, and it finds use as an antiseptic and antifungal agent.

Limonene: Limonene sources include peppermint, citrus rind, and Juniper. It can affect us by relieving stress and lifting the mood. Medically, limonene finds use as an antidepressant, antianxiety and antifungal.

Pinene: Pinene is useful for memory retention and alertness. Its sources include sage, conifers, and pine needles. Pinene is helpful with inflammation and asthma.

Caryophyllene: Sources of caryophyllene include basil, oregano, and pepper. In medicine, it helps with pain, inflammation and muscle spasms. Research involving beta-caryophyllene shows that it binds with the CB2 receptor. The study also identifies the compound as a ‘macrocyclic anti-inflammatory cannabinoid’ contained in the cannabis plant.


Flavonoids are responsible for the non-green color pigmentation in plants. In technical terms, they are secondary polyphenol metabolites. Flavonoids are so named because they commonly have yellowish pigments and the term flavus means ‘yellow’ in Latin. Flavonoids work by attracting pollinators,  filtering UV light and fighting fungal infections.

Flavonoids are present in most of the fruits and vegetables that have non-green pigments. The Cannabis plant contains a variety of flavonoids including cannaflavins A, B and C, kaempferol, and quercetin. Here is a brief description of the properties of these compounds:

Quercetin is considered to be capable of synergizing with other cannabinoids to increase anti-inflammatory properties.

Cannaflavin A may help reduce inflammatory. Its properties have been studied and compared with established anti-inflammatory drugs.

Kaempferol has potential as an anti-inflammatory and anticancer treatment.

It’s important to note that flavonoid properties have been studied ‘in vitro’ (in the lab/controlled environment). There aren’t any studies that demonstrate the antioxidant or anti-cancer properties of the compounds ‘in vivo’ (inside a living organism).

Besides the color, flavonoids also play a role in the formation of the odor and flavor of different cannabis strains.  Flavonoids synergize with terpenes to give each plant its unique taste.

A full-spectrum CBD product will contain these trace compounds.  Before purchasing cannabis products, consult your physician to find out which option will suit you best.

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