The Entourage Effect
Updated: Mar 7
If you've kept up with canna-culture at all over the past few years, you have likely heard the term "entourage effect" at some point along the line. You've heard of indicas and sativas, THC and CBD, cannabinoids and terpenes...or maybe you haven't, in which case you should definitely follow my socials so I can teach you all the awesome things.
So, what is the entourage effect? It's the widely-supported theory that cannabis compounds work together synergistically for unique effects. Synergy is when 1+1=3. Beyond just THC and CBD, there is a myriad of terpenes to be found in any cannabis strain, each with a handful or so of effects that change depending on whatever other compounds come to the party. Terpenes are the aromatic flavonoids that determine the pigment, scent, and taste of virtually every plant on the planet. Some terpenes, for example, inhibit THC's control, keeping euphoric effects a bit at bay. Some can lengthen the overall effects of the medicine while others may speed it up. Specifically in cannabis, terpenes can determine whether a strain will be a sativa, indica, or hybrid.
Sativas will be heavier in terpenes such as limonene and pinene, which work to uplift the mood, increase energy, foster creativity and alertness, and get the day going. Indicas will contain more myrcene, caryophyllene, and linalool for calming and sedative effects, as well as increased appetite and pain relief. Indicas can put one “in da couch,” with body-heavy effects. These effects can also be found in plants that you eat, steep for tea, or even just cut for a vase in your dining room. Have you ever smelled a lemon and felt a little lift?
How about lavender and felt a little calm? Same deal with cannabis, only with the addition of that beautiful entourage effect with other terpenes and cannabinoids for full spectrum healing and maintenance. With cannabis, the effects are not only unique to the strain - and the batch of said strain - but also to the individual partaking of the strain. There have been quite a few strains that passed under my nose at the dispensary I worked at for a time that I skipped trying because it was just not my kind of stink; and those very same strains would warrant a thumb up from a patient. The nose knows! It is for this reason that I detest star ratings on strains. My 5-star may be your bad day, and your favorite strain may make my heart race and my hands shake. It is important to educate before you medicate in order to ascertain the proper strain for your needs.
Many feel intimidated at first when learning about terpene profiles and tailoring their medicine to their own needs. It can be a little overwhelming when one is accustomed to a doctor merely prescribing two of something and a call in the morning. If you can build a salad, a sandwich, or even an ice cream sundae, you can find the terpenes that best serve you, and it is essential that these terpenes are included. There are a lot of CBD and THC isolates out there, and while both have their expansive benefits, it is the full spectrum products that bring on the entourage effect and inspire homeostasis via synergy. Consider the salad I mentioned; a bowl of iceberg lettuce is food in your belly, but that's all it is - crunchy water in the belly. Add a squeeze of lemon, a hard-boiled egg, some sliced avocado...now you have yourself a salad. Each of these things alone are well enough, but together they amount to much more than the sum of their individual parts. Bonus of bonuses, you can even support your cannabis medicine by incorporating terpenes into your daily regimen with your diet and aromatics that compliment the profile of whatever strain(s) you're consuming. Another way to think about it is as an orchestra. Each section - percussion, strings, woodwinds, etc. - have their own unique contribution that can sound lovely but potentially out of place when isolated. Together, the various instruments can create a symphony. Or a headache. So learn what music best serves you.
I go live twice a week in my private Facebook group, Balance & Independence through Self-Compassion. On Thursdays I lead the group in a mini guided meditation, and on Tuesdays we talk terpenes, cannabinoids, and ways to better harness the entourage effect in a wellness lifestyle. Join me there to learn more, and if you're ready to take it a step further in developing a cannabis protocol and the habits necessary for best utilizing such a process, book your free Discovery Session with me now, and let's get you on your way to homeostasis.