The Entourage Effect

In best company

 

Cannabis Sativa is a medicinal plant with extraordinary potential. The reason for this is its valuable ingredients: among others, cannabinoids, terpenes, vitamins, amino acids, proteins, and numerous trace elements. Their interaction, the so-called entourage effect, gives hemp its great healing power. 

The fact that hemp heals has been known for over 4500 years. The first written document about its use as a medicine comes from China. The author is one of the fathers of Chinese medicine, the mythical emperor Shen-Nung. However, until the early 1960s, the exact ingredients of hemp were largely unknown. It was not until 1963 that the Israeli researcher Raphael Mechoulam discovered the chemical structure of cannabidiol (CBD) and a year later, together with his colleague Yechiel Gaoni, that of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

CBD and THC belong to the cannabinoids. They are also produced by other plants. These include coneflower, black pepper and liverwort, for example, and even humans themselves produce them in the body.

The discovery of the cannabinoids THC and CBD marked the first chapter in cannabis research. But decades of research were to pass before Mechoulam's scientists opened the next. Specifically, this involves the interaction of the various ingredients. Shortly before the turn of the millennium, Israeli scientists realized that THC is only responsible for part of the effect. Accordingly, the full spectrum of ingredients determines the potential of the medicinal plant. In this context, this so-called entourage effect makes it clear that the whole is more than the sum of its parts.

"When ingredients of a plant act in bundled form, synergies are created that significantly increase the benefits," says Sven Matuschik. The managing director of the Swiss company Walgenbach has worked intensively on the entourage effect. Among other things, his company markets different cannabinoid oils that contain the full spectrum of ingredients. Matuschik compares such natural substance mixtures to an orchestra: "Each instrument can, of course, play a piece of music on its own. But the maximum effect of a piece is achieved when all instruments play together. And it's the same with hemp plants and their components."

That makes it all the more important that these ingredients, which have been enhancing people's well-being for thousands of years, be researched in detail. In cannabis plants, scientists have found more than 120 other cannabinoids since the discovery of CBD and THC. There are also about 500 additional substances: Terpenes, flavonoids, polyphenols, lignans, trace elements, vitamins and fatty acids.

The ingredients of hemp have been intensively researched, especially by Dr. Ethan Russo. In 2011, the U.S. neurologist and former president of the Cannabinoid Research Society demonstrated in a detailed study how the components of cannabis influence each other.

To do this, Russo studied the ingredients of cannabis flowers and their effect on the body for years. He believes the entourage effect can be used to treat pain, inflammation, depression, anxiety, epilepsy and other conditions.

Other studies have come to this conclusion over the past two decades. In 2020, for example, Israeli researchers Ruth Gallily, Zhannah Yekhtin and Lumír Ondřej of the University of Jerusalem proved in a study with mice that CBD has a stronger effect when it is enriched with other cannabinoids.

In addition to cannabinoids, terpenes are elemental to the healing power of the cannabis plant. Dr. Ethan Russo came to this conclusion back in 2011, when he published a study on the synergy of cannabinoids and terpenes.

Around 40,000 different terpenes and their compounds (terpenoids) are found in nature. These hydrocarbon compounds, which are volatile with oxygen, are responsible for taste and smell in plants and fruits. The main functions of the odor molecules are to attract pollinators, protect against predators and regulate plant growth. The most common terpenes are myrcene, limonene, alpha-pinene and linalpool (see Appendix).

Over 200 different terpenes are found in the hemp plant. These aromatic compounds give it its typical smell and are responsible for the individual effects of each cannabis variety. Their greatest advantage: they support the positive effects of the cannabinoids.

Research has shown that THC binds to receptors in the brain and has a psychoactive effect. However, terpenes can additionally actively influence these receptors and how they work. The result can be quite contradictory: some terpenes provide relaxation, others lift mood and energy levels.

Accordingly, the benefits of the entourage effect are evident in cannabinoid oils that cover the entire spectrum of ingredients, so-called full-spectrum products. "Our experience proves," says Walgenbach CEO Sven Matuschik, "that even smaller doses already achieve significant effects as a result." Undoubtedly, a lot of research work is still needed in this area, he said. But that is hardly surprising in view of the large number of ingredients. However, one can already say with certainty: "Cannabis heals and helps. Over 4500 years of successful applications are significant enough."


The sources

The discovery of THC: pubs.acs.org/doi/10.1021/ja01062a046

The entourage effect: https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S0014299998003926?via%3Dihub

Stronger effect of full-spectrum compared with isolates: file.scirp.org/pdf/PP_2015021016351567.pdf

Mutual influence of cannabis constituents: ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3165946/

  

 

Terpenes: strong Partners

Myrcene

This terpene is the central ingredient in the cannabis plant. In some strains, they make up as much as 50 percent. Myrcene has a simple chemical structure and is therefore classified as a monoterpene. In nature, the substance is found in mangoes, basil and thyme. Its pleasant earthy odor is reminiscent of clove fragrance. Myrcene can have relaxing, anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects.

Limonen

When you smell the peels of citrus fruits, the scent of the monoterpene limonene will reach your nose. Its strong aroma is also found in other plants such as dill, cardamom and tea tree oil. In the hemp plant, it is one of the most common ingredients. Phytotherapy not only attributes strong anti-inflammatory properties to this terpene. Scientists at the US National Cancer Institute suspect that the substance may also have cell-protective and antitumor properties. The exact mechanism is not yet clear, but it appears that limonene stimulates apoptosis. Animal studies have also found that inhaled limonene can reduce anxiety.

Alpha-Pinen

Conifers produce alpha-pinene in their resin in larger quantities. It has a pleasant piney scent. Other sources include eucalyptus oil, orange peel oil and rosemary. Studies from 2014 found that alpha-pinene can reduce inflammation.

Japanese have relied on the clearing effects of terpene in traditional forest bathing for centuries.

Linalool

Linalool is found in more than 200 plant species. It smells like flowers and - like many other terpenes - can inhibit inflammation. This was shown in 2013 experiments with mice from the University in Changchun, China. The study explicitly noted that linalool may be a potential active ingredient for the treatment of in inflammatory processes.

  

The sources

Anti-inflammatory effect of limonene: pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/28260017/

Antitumor effect of limonene: cancer.gov/publications/dictionaries/cancer-drug/def/limonene

Anti-anxiety effect of limonene: pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/22995322/#affiliation-1