The Entourage Effect:

How terpenes complement CBD’s efficacy

Many cannabidiol (CBD) users don’t clearly understand the entourage effect and how it applies to their CBD. Terpenes and CBD, used together, are a perfect example of the entourage effect in action. Individual terpenes add beneficial properties to your CBD oil, enhancing CBD’s effects.

As with any medication or supplement, it’s important to understand how to maximize what CBD can do and how it does it. If you’re taking CBD isolate (pure CBD), you may be missing out on the benefits of the entourage effect that you can expect with a full-spectrum CBD.

However, as discussed below, full-spectrum CBD may not be the right answer for your condition or circumstances.

At its most basic, the entourage effect is the synergy that comes from the interaction of CBD and terpenes that achieve a more significant impact than the individual constituents might otherwise have.

Essentially, the entourage effect refers to the old, seemingly unintuitive, saying, “The sum of its parts is greater than the whole.” That is important when referring to the interaction of CBD and terpenes.

How and why the entourage effect works

When Raphael Mechoulam, of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, synthesized THC in 1964, he opened the door to the discovery of the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS), a complex system of relaying signals between the body’s cells.  

The ECS evolved early on in human development. It is a biochemical, physiological system that connects many neurological and physiological functions. Comprised of endocannabinoid receptors, endocannabinoids, and metabolic enzymes, the ECS regulates various physiological and neurochemical processes to maintain health, wellness and optimize your reactions to stress, inflammation, immunity, mood, and pain.

Endocannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2) are the physical structures, or synapses, that receive the endocannabinoids. CB1 receptors, found primarily in your central nervous system. CB2 receptors are in the peripheral nervous system—everywhere but the brain and spinal cord, but especially in immune cells.

Endocannabinoids are the messengers, and they bind to the receptors and stimulate them to perform particular functions. Metabolic enzymes break down phyto- and endocannabinoids once they have fulfilled their duties to regulate the ECS.

Cannabis and hemp’s phytocannabinoids and phytochemicals mimic the functions of our endocannabinoids and metabolic enzymes. They also help stimulate our cannabinoid receptors to initiate and facilitate cell signaling.

What are terpenes? Terpenoids?

Terpene molecules are the source of flavor and aroma in plants, whether in cannabis or chamomile. All aromatic plants and flowers have terpenes. There are dozens of terpenes in cannabis, and they contribute to its distinctive aroma and flavor.

Dr. Ethan Russo, a prominent American neurologist and pharmacology researcher, has investigated terpenes and their health benefits in the use of cannabis. Dr. Russo has suggested that terpenes can also change the ECS function besides adding flavor, aroma, therapeutic benefits to CBD.

These are among the most common terpenes found in cannabis along with their benefits.

  • Limonene—the name says it all. Most commonly found in citrus zest, the aroma evokes oranges, lemons, and limes when peeled. Research has shown that limonene has antifungal benefits. It may also help with mood, lower anxiety, and decrease inflammation. In CBD oil, limonene boosts other terpenes’ absorption rate.
  • Myrcene—has a pungent and earthy herbal aroma. Myrcene is a powerful relaxant that induces a drowsy feeling. It has antibacterial and pain-relief properties.
  • Pinene—as its name suggests, it has a piney scent. Traditional medicine in the Chinese pharmacopeia, it works as a bronchodilator, as well as having anti-inflammatory and antibacterial properties.
  • Linalool—has a floral scent, reminiscent of lavender and chamomile. Like lavender, linalool acts as an anxiolytic and sleep aid.
  • Caryophyllene—with a spicy aroma, it’s found in cloves, cinnamon, and pepper. In addition to its anti-inflammatory and analgesic effects, caryophyllene can interact with the ECS.
  • Humulene—occurs naturally in hops, coriander, basil, and cloves. Researchers believe it acts as an appetite suppressant and as an anti-inflammatory.
  • Terpinolene—found in sage and rosemary, terpinolene has a woodsy, smokey aroma. Known for its light sedative properties, it’s also an antioxidant and an antibacterial. Scientists have discovered that terpinolene can prompt the central nervous system to reduce anxiety and to induce drowsiness.

When researching terpenes, the term “terpenoids” often crops up. So, what’s the difference between the two? They are the same except that terpenes are the fresh version found with the living plant. On drying and curing the plant flower or leaf, terpenes become terpenoids. Think fresh herbs vs. dried herbs.

Aside from cannabis, people use terpenoids to create are commonly used outside of cannabis for their scents. People use terpenes in spice blends, essential oils, and perfumes; they regulate the impact of cannabinoids.

Why use terpenes?

With all this talk about the entourage effect and terpenes, it seems reasonable to conclude that full-spectrum CBD is the way to go. However, that would be a mistake.

Different terpene combinations yield different results. While one terpene mixture may complement its constituent members to achieve the desired effect, another may completely cancel out any benefits. Tailoring your CBD and terpenes to meet your needs is more effective and more consistent.

Studies show terpenes impact the duration or intensity of CBD’s effects. They modify, increase, or decrease CBD’s interaction with your ECS, providing essential health benefits along the way.

When you combine linalool and myrcene with your CBD, you’re more relaxed and can benefit from their sleep-inducing properties. In the alternative, terpene combinations such as limonene and caryophyllene could provide more focus and energy. Mix linalool and limonene, and they are likely to cancel each other out or give an opposite outcome.

Terpenes are an essential part of your CBD oil. They influence, complement, and enhance the effects of CBD and each other. Not only that, but they make for a more flavorful and aromatic experience.

A potential information source is the third-party lab certification you should insist on seeing. Not only does the certificate identify ingredients, but it also will identify any unsavory additives or residues.

Different terpenes have different benefits and effects. It pays to talk with your CBD provider about why you are using CBD in the first place. They can help you find the perfect terpene complement to your CBD and use the entourage effect to greatest effect.

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Jack Studebaker

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