When researching the benefits of Cannabidiol, or CBD, you may have come across the term, “The Entourage Effect.” But what exactly is it and why is it important when determining which products to buy?
To understand this, we need to first, delve into the different types of CBD oil varieties known as spectrums. Secondly, we will borrow basic concepts from naturopathic medicine and permaculture farming to explain their relevance.
CBD on the Spectrum
As we’ve mentioned before, broad and full-spectrum CBD hemp extracts contain a range of naturally occurring plant compounds from the hemp plant, while CBD isolate contains only CBD, and nothing else.
While there is no formal definition of the terms “broad spectrum” and “full spectrum”, they are often used in the hemp industry to differentiate between the presence of a trace amount of the psychoactive cannabinoid tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Most often, “full spectrum” refers to an extract that includes a full range of cannabinoids: CBD plus minor cannabinoids like Cannabinol (CBN), Cannabinol (CBN), Cannabigerol (CBG) and Cannabichromene (CBC), in addition to the small amount of naturally occurring THC.
On the other hand, the term “broad spectrum” is often used to indicate that THC has been removed from the extract. Broad-spectrum hemp extracts may also include a variety of cannabinoids and other plant compounds, but currently, there’s no standard so consumers have to look more closely at the label to see what their broad-spectrum hemp extracts include.
(For the purposes of this article, when we mention ”broad-spectrum,” we mean hemp extracts with CBD, the other naturally occurring plant compounds, except THC.)
Here’s a quick cheat sheet for CBD spectrums:
- Isolate: No THC
- Broad spectrum: No THC, contains other cannabinoids
- Full spectrum: Less than 0.3% THC, contains most other cannabinoids
What are the benefits of using full or broad-spectrum CBD over CBD isolate? The answer is: the entourage effect, the idea that compounds in the hemp plant complement one another in synergy when ingested, making the extract more beneficial and effective than consuming CBD on its own.
How Much Do We Know About the Entourage Effect?
Although Western medicine relies mostly on single plant compounds, the concept of botanical synergy has been demonstrated in modern medical research. In 1998, Israeli professors Raphael Mechoulam and Shimon Ben-Shabat introduced the idea of the entourage effect, the idea that botanical compounds were often more efficient than their isolated components.
This led scientists to look into how minor cannabinoids, along with terpenes and flavonoids, contribute to the overall effects of the cannabis plant.
This effect is most aligned with naturopathic medicine, which often stresses that isolating specific plant compounds for medicinal purposes can be effective for certain ailments, but whole herb extracts are typically thought of as being more beneficial when treating many conditions.
While further studies are still necessary to fully understand how the entourage effect works, current research shows that hemp extract is more effective when all components are utilized simultaneously.
Let’s Explore the Role of Cannabinoids, Terpenes, Flavonoids and the Entourage Effect
Now that you understand the basic differences of the 3 CBD spectrums, let’s consider how it all relates to the entourage effect.
First, let’s now explore the other components of these products that we’ve mentioned, terpenes and flavonoids.
- Cannabinoids are naturally occurring chemical compounds within plants, and the human body (referred to as endocannabinoids). There are over 120 cannabinoids in the cannabis plant alone, yet THC and CBD are most widely understood to date. It is believed that the effects on the endocannabinoid system are greater when as many of the cannabinoids in the plant are kept intact.
- Terpenes are fragrant oils that give plants their odors, whose purpose is to ward off plant predators and protect plant health, but some also provide health benefits.
- Flavonoids, on the other hand, are a group of phytonutrients that are known for giving plants their many colors, such as the red in raspberries. There are over 20 flavonoids in the hemp plant. As cell messengers, they work synergistically with cannabinoids and terpenes to deliver effects of hemp extracts.
When these compounds are ingested simultaneously, they interact with the endocannabinoid system (ECS), allowing the entourage effect to take place. To understand this concept, we can compare it to companion planting in permaculture. Companion planting is the practice of planting certain plants closely together so they can mutually support and benefit each other’s growth and defense. Similarly, hemp compounds work together to support each other’s natural benefits from growth to protection.
Like companion planting, the human body benefits the most from hemp extracts when they contain an abundance of naturally occurring hemp compounds. It is thought that these CBD products are more effective for this reason.
This is why it’s so important to do your due diligence when purchasing CBD products. Utilizing broad-spectrum topical pain relievers, such as those from CBDMEDIC™, or ingesting full-spectrum Charlotte’s Web™ CBD oils* and capsules* will release the full potential of CBD and hemp, allowing the entourage effect to take action.
Using Whole Plants for your Wellbeing
The power of plants is undeniable, and there is no denying the wonderful benefits the hemp plant has to offer. Nature’s pharmacy has helped humans and animals thrive for eons. Yet, as technology and medicine advances, sometimes it tries to break apart the bonds we have with the natural world in attempt to only isolate the “useful” parts. But if we look closely through our microscopes, we’ll see that all parts are useful. And often, when all the parts of come together, they serve us best.
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* These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This product is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.