We talk about terpenes quite often on the blog, but what we haven’t touched on yet is ‘The Entourage Effect’ which refers the interaction between cannabinoids and the endocannabinoid system.
This is a moniker given to the process that is going on when cannabinoids work together when ingested, inhaled, or applied topically. Though these chemical compounds make up a large part of the effects that cannabis can have on the human mind and body, terpenes also come into play. Generally, when we’re thinking of terpenes we refer to the aroma or flavor of the buds, but terpenes are responsible for so much more. Terpene profiles can mark the main differences between Indica and Sativa strains much more than the cannabinoid content. When we think of what is commonly referred to as the entourage effect I think that we’re doing ourselves an injustice by not taking terpenes into account.
The Entourage Effect
The phrase ‘The Entourage Effect’ was first introduced into society in 1998 by S. Ben-Shabat with Raphael Mechoulam to describe a novel endogenous cannabinoid molecular regulation route. Mechoulam is the first person to ever isolate THC, and the THC isolate Marinol was sold by big Pharma. It was found that this compound was somewhat useless on its own and the other chemical components of the plant were necessary. As the cannabis industry has opened up to cannabinoid and other testing procedures over the last five to ten years the entourage effect has become as prevalent in cannabis culture as it is in cannabis science. My favorite example of this synergistic quality in cannabinoids is the ability of cannabidiol (CBD) to sort of lubricate the endocannabinoid system and help all of the other chemical compounds of the plant find the right receptors. So how do terpenes affect each other and cannabinoids?
The Role of Terpenes
Much like CBD, the terpene Myrcene (often found in mangos) helps the receptors in our minds actually accept more THC while helping all other cannabinoids and terpenes get where they’re trying to go. Other terpenes have also shown to block and promote various cannabinoid receptor sites throughout the body. Terpenes are just as crucial, if not more, than cannabinoids and they’re crucial to the entourage effect.
As we continue to research the individual components of the plant and how they interact it will not only shape our understanding of the plant, it will change how we medicate in general.