When it comes to the intoxicating and therapeutic effects of cannabis, THC and CBD have stolen the spotlight. For a long time, it was thought that cannabinoids were the only driver behind the intoxicating and therapeutic effects of cannabis. However, as we’ve come to learn more about the cannabis plant, it has become clear that there is much more at work behind these effects than just cannabinoids.
More Than Just Cannabinoids
It’s believed that the many different cannabinoids contained in each cannabis strain are responsible for its effects – even the ones that only exist in trace amounts. However, more recently, researchers have come to believe that terpenes may also play a significant role in the high that cannabis produces.
Terpenes are aromatic hydrocarbon compounds responsible for giving plants like cannabis their signature scent. However, research indicates that these terpenes may have therapeutic properties of their own. This has led some to speculate that the terpene profile of a strain may actually influence its therapeutic and mind-altering potential as well.
What Is The Entourage Effect?
The entourage effect is the theory that cannabinoids work together with terpenes, flavonoids, and other plant compounds in order to produce more complete and comprehensive effects than they could on their own.
The phenomenon was first proposed in relation to endocannabinoids, compounds that are similar to cannabinoids but that are actually produced by the human body for the purpose of maintaining homeostasis. However, many people have come to believe that this effect applies to cannabinoids as well.
While definitive research on the entourage effect is lacking, a mountain of anecdotal evidence suggests that the full cannabinoid and terpene profiles of a strain are more important in determining the effects it produces than just its THC or CBD content.
The entourage effect would also explain why different cannabis strains seem to produce different effects. By featuring different cannabinoids and terpenes at different concentrations, strains are able to produce their own unique effects and flavors.
How THC & CBD Interact
To see this phenomenon at work, look no further than the interactions between THC and CBD, the two most prominent cannabinoids in marijuana.
When ingested on its own, THC can produce a stimulating and euphoric buzz. However, when it is consumed alongside a dose of CBD, some of THC’s more stimulating effects are toned down. That’s because CBD makes it harder for THC to bind to cell receptors in the nervous system, making it less active overall. Since anxiety and paranoia can be common side effects of consuming too much THC, many people find that taking some CBD when they’ve had too much can bring down their buzz and help them calm down.
Full-Spectrum vs. Isolate Products
So what does all of this actually mean when it comes to cannabis products?
For starters, many people find that the combination of THC and CBD is more effective in treating their symptoms or conditions than either of these cannabinoids on their own. Some find that this combination of cannabinoids can be more effective when treating things like pain and insomnia.
Additionally, it also contains some clues as to why some people find full-spectrum extracts to be more potent and effective than isolated cannabinoids like in THC distillate or CBD isolate. Full-spectrum products contain the entire spectrum of compounds contained in the cannabis plant it was extracted from, allowing them to take advantage of the entourage effect to produce more complete effects. However, some people still swear by isolates and it is ultimately up to you to experiment in order to find what works best for you.
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