The Entourage Effect: Why It Matters In CBD

Isolated CBD? We can do better.
Isolated CBD? We can do better. /

This article is by Scott Mazza, Co-Founder and COO of Vitality CBD.

The past year has shown time and again there’s still so much we don’t know about cannabis. While recent studies offer positive indications for cannabidiol (CBD) and a myriad potential treatments – across conditions from anxiety to menopause – we’re only scratching the surface. Early signs are strong and yet there’s still a long way to go. The same can be said for the “entourage effect.”

This theory suggests that all compounds of the cannabis plant work together to maximize the benefits. Working in synergy, the cannabinoids, terpenes and flavonoids combine for a holistic effect that none could create on their own. The sum is far greater than its parts. 

Again, scientists are only just beginning to look into this, but proving the entourage effect could be monumental. For example, it could help explain why different strains have different effects. Further, the effect could shift how we create CBD products and best apply them. Let’s explore.

What Is The Entourage Effect

In a nutshell, the entourage effect posits that all compounds within cannabis act in synergy to amplify the plant’s physiological effects. So, in addition to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the theory suggests that things like terpenes (aromatic compounds) and flavonoids (various compounds found naturally in many fruits and vegetables) work together to play an enhancing role. I compare the idea to a great band. Individually, there could be an excellent pianist or accomplished guitarist. But, together, the group achieves far more than on their own.

Proving this theory right or wrong could substantially shift how we use CBD. For example, current products span from isolate (pure CBD with no other compounds) to full-spectrum (all compounds present in the cannabis plant). 

Bringing this concept from theory to practice could see producers and consumers prefer the latter more than the former. Additionally, proving the entourage effect could go some way to help explain the wide variability of cannabis.

A New Look Into Anxiety

So, what does the science say? Admittedly, scientists in this space have long been hampered by taboo and legality, but early signs are positive. In 2022, a landmark clinical trial looked into how high-CBD, full-spectrum oil helped with anxiety. 

The study noted a “significant reduction” in anxiety levels after just one week. Better yet, the results were achieved at a much lower dose of CBD than in previous clinical trials – a targeted daily dose of 30mg. Compare this to a previous anxiety study using an extracted CBD isolate – this trial found it effective at the considerably higher dose of 300mg.

Researchers in this clinical trial believe the entourage effect explains the difference in dose effectiveness. They write: “While few studies have directly compared full-spectrum and single extracted products, research suggests that for some conditions, full-spectrum products may yield therapeutic response at lower doses and with fewer side effects.” 

Moreover, they write that single-extracted CBD products were associated with more frequent reporting of mild and severe side effects relative to full-spectrum, high-CBD products.  

Now, researchers will move to the double-blind, placebo-controlled stage to offer a more definitive assessment of full-spectrum CBD and anxiety. But, the results are promising for the entourage effect and illustrate its importance in a scientific setting.

The Need For Research Into Full-Spectrum CBD

More quality research is good news but there’s still a long way to go. We’re only at the tip of the CBD iceberg. 

Hopefully, more attention will bring more research and evidence supporting the entourage effect. Ultimately, unlocking it could change product creation and patient treatment. Our industry must push for greater scientific understanding of things that have, until now, remained anecdotal. 

It’s also worth noting that anxiety is one of the top reasons people turn to CBD. Proving that the compound is effective in the fight against anxiety, and that the entourage effect plays an important role, is huge.

In the interim, consumers should do their homework. There’s clearly a big difference between CBD products and how they’re made. Therefore, look at the label and stick to full-spectrum extracts if you’re interested in the entourage effect. And, while you’re there, double-check to make sure the producer is independently testing their products for potency and purity.

Moving forward, it’s pleasing to see legal and scientific barriers slowly coming down. In many ways, 2022 was a landmark year in how scientists study and society views this compound. I look toward the new year with hope – hope for more funding, more research and more momentum in our industry.

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