Hello, hemp lovers. If you’ve been following the latest buzz on the health and wellness benefits of CBD, you may have come across the terms “entourage effect” or “ensemble effect.”
What exactly do these terms mean, and what do they have to do with how you choose to incorporate CBD products into your wellness routine? Let’s break it down, shall we?
What is the Entourage Effect?
Cannabidiol, or CBD, is the most abundant cannabinoid (a chemical compound that mimics natural human neurotransmitters) in the hemp plant. But it’s far from the only one. There are actually more than 400 active compounds in hemp! The “entourage effect” refers to how these compounds interact with each other and the human body to produce a range of effects.
Picture an entourage: a crowd of people tagging along behind a rock star, smoothing their path, taking care of problems, making them more comfortable, tackling all the background tasks so they can focus on doing what they do best. That’s one way of thinking about how the hundreds of phytocompounds in hemp support the rockstar cannabinoid, CBD, and help it to do what it does best (which is to help us).
Other hemp experts prefer to use the term “ensemble effect,” recognizing that while CBD may be getting most of the glory these days, the other cannabinoids and phytocompounds in hemp are hardly mere lackeys. In fact, they each have shining talents and abilities all their own. And when all those talents and properties act in combination with each other, the result is more like a beautiful chorus than a single rock star’s voice — a full and luscious experience that resonates across a range of frequencies, creating what the New York Times recently described as “a full-body massage on the molecular level.”
In a recent article about CBD in Experience Life Magazine, pain management specialist Dr. Michael Moskowitz describes the entourage effect this way: “Each phytocannabinoid has its own properties. They overlap in the conditions and symptoms they treat, but they each go about it in a unique way. That’s the synergistic effect — the sum of all the components working together is greater than the parts.”
So what are all the various elements that make up the robust ensemble that calls hemp home? Let’s take a closer look at some of the most potent phytocompounds in hemp, which fall into three main categories: Cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids.
Flavonoids are molecules found in many plants, including flowers, fruits, vegetables and of course our good friend hemp. They contribute to plants’ color and pigmentation, aroma and (as the name suggests) flavor. They also help plants filter out UV rays and attract pollinators. Researchers have identified more than 20 flavonoids in Cannabis sativa, the plant species that includes hemp, some of which (such as cannaflavin A) are not found anywhere else in nature.
Researchers are still working to uncover the health benefits of the thousands of flavonoids that have been identified across the plant kingdom so far, but studies have shown that many of them may have anti-inflammatory, antimicrobial and antioxidant properties.
Along with flavonoids, terpenes are volatile compounds that contribute to plants’ flavor and aroma. Found in the essential oils produced by many plants, terpenes are prized for their distinct fragrances, mood-enhancing effects and wellness-boosting properties.
Here are some of the most common terpenes found in hemp:
- Myrcene: supports relaxation and promotes a sense of calm
- Caryophyllene: enhances mood and soothes inflammation
- Linalool: also found in lavender; promotes calm and relaxation
- A-pinene: supports focus, memory and energy
This is the big one — the category that includes the heavy-hitters such as CBD and THC. There are more than 100 cannabinoids in the hemp plant, each of which interacts with our natural endocannabinoid system (or ECS) in its own unique way. These compounds behave similarly in our bodies to the neurotransmitters we naturally produce and rely on for our overall sense of balance, health and wellbeing.
THC is the cannabinoid responsible for the psychoactive effects usually associated with cannabis. Hemp has only trace amounts of THC but a much higher relative percentage of CBD, which helps support the endocannabinoid system; promote balance, calm and wellbeing; and help the body restore and rejuvenate in the face of stress or injury.
CBD and THC are by far the most studied cannabinoids, but researchers are hard at work studying some of the other prominent cannabinoids in hemp. This research represents the next frontier in uncovering more insight into how the entourage effect works, and how it can be tailored to address specific wellness needs.
Here’s a quick look at some of the cannabinoids attracting researchers’ attention:
- Cannabinol (CBN): A non-psychoactive cannabinoid that works on a variety of immune cells and may help support sleep and healthy appetite.
- Cannabidivarin (CBDV): Another non-intoxicating cannabinoid currently being explored for its potential to help with seizures, nausea and mood support.
- Cannabigerol (CBG): Sometimes called the “mother cannabinoid,” the majority of CBG in the hemp plant converts into other cannabinoids, including CBD. On its own, CBG has shown promise in supporting healthy eye pressure and bladder and bowel function.
There’s much more to learn about how all these phytocompounds work together to support, enhance and balance each other’s effects. At Manitoba Harvest, we’re proud to be part of a company leading some of the most exciting research into this remarkable plant and its potential to improve people’s lives, health and wellbeing. For those wanting to experience an extra boost from hemp, our Peppermint CBD Oil Drops are a great place to start.