The entourage or ensemble benefits of cannabis have been well-hyped over the last few years. With a keen eye, one may have noticed that full spectrum cannabidiol (CBD) products have increased on dispensary shelves while CBD isolate products may have diminished. Why the shift, and is there sufficient science to back this up?
The phrase “entourage effect” was coined in 1998  by two founding fathers of cannabis research: Shimon Ben-Shabat and Raphael Mechoulam.  The phrase represents the synergistic benefits achieved when different cannabinoid compounds work together to produce enhanced healing effects. They posited that this same mechanism could be used to explain the increased efficacy of botanical drugs when compared to their isolated counterparts. 
Well, a recent study has shed some light on the ensemble effects of full spectrum CBD. 
Bell-Shaped Dose Response Curve
In this study, the dose-response pattern of purified CBD was compared to that of a full-spectrum plant extract from Cannabis sativa L. named “L. clone 202.”  The parameters under investigation included the prevention of: paw edema, pain, and TNFα production in mice as induced by zymosan.
The results demonstrated a bell-shaped dose-response for purified CBD where therapeutic effects tapered off after a certain threshold. Beyond this point, additional CBD did not increase the therapeutic response. This sort of response limits the effectiveness of CBD in a clinical setting.
On the other hand, the non-intoxicating L. clone 202 extract elicited a dose-dependent response where additional compound consistently increased the therapeutic response. In other words, the therapeutic response did not taper off at higher dosages.
The researchers concluded that “clone 202 extracts may be a suitable substitute for the current used Cannabis [cultivar] in the clinics…”
The study demonstrated that full spectrum CBD extract improves the dose-response and produces therapeutic effects that are more potent or efficacious than pure CBD. 
The synergistic effects are experienced when CBD is working in combination with phytocannabinoids (such as tetrahydrocannabivarin, cannabigerol, and cannabichromene) as well as terpenes and flavonoids.
This presents a unique opportunity for the use of full-spectrum phytopharmaceuticals in the treatment of pain, edema, and swelling, among other conditions.
Nick Youngson, CC BY-SA 3.0, Alpha Stock Images, Picpedia.org
- Shimon BS, et al. An entourage effect: inactive endogenous fatty acid glycerol esters enhance 2-arachidonoyl-glycerol cannabinoid activity. Eur Journal of Pharmacol. 1998:353(1):23-31. Journal Impact Factor: 3.17 Times Cited: 369
- Russo EB. The case for the entourage effect and conventional breeding of clinical cannabis: No “Strain,” no gain. Front Plant Sci. 2019;9:1969. doi:10.3389/fpls.2018.01969. Journal Impact Factor: 4.407 Times Cited: 53
- Gallily R, Yekhtin Z, Hanuš LO. Overcoming the bell‐shaped dose‐response of cannabidiol by using cannabis extract enriched in cannabidiol. Pharmacology & Pharmacy. 2015;6:75‐ Journal Impact Factor: 2.405 Times Cited: 41
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