Throughout history and across the globe, the multifaceted plant has been utilized for a multitude of reasons ranging from textile use to medicinal use. While the plant itself and the way it is used has evolved significantly over time, so has our knowledge and understanding of it. As we learn more about how to most effectively utilize the cannabis plant, as well as understand more about the medicinal benefits it can yield, there is no shortage of information to gather.
In 1992, the discovery of the Endocannabinoid System helped further advance research into how and why the body responds directly to compounds naturally found in the cannabis plant, such as CBD and THC. While there are hundreds of medicinal compounds occurring within cannabis, these two primary compounds helped introduce us to a concept commonly referred to as the "entourage effect." This concept was coined and first discovered in 1998 by Professors Raphael Mechoulam and Shimon Ben-Shabat , who noted that the synergy found in cannabis suggests that the culmination of cannabinoids can be more effective than when the plant's components are isolated. Since the initial discovery of the ECS, we have learned about how the system helps our bodies maintain homeostasis, making it crucial to our well-being and survival.
Essentially, the body itself has a regulatory system designed to respond and react to cannabinoids such as CBD and THC, and when used together, research shows that a synergistic phenomenon takes place. In other words, CBD and THC work together within the body, increasing their clinical efficacy. Although both compounds have their differences—namely that THC yields psychoactive effects that CBD does not—enlisting more than one single cannabinoid (as well as including a full profile of other naturally occurring compounds such as terpenes) is a powerful way to strengthen desired benefits.
CBD and THC work together within the body, increasing their clinical efficacy.
To break it down a bit further, cannabinoids interact with receptors found in the Endocannabinoid System to produce a variety of effects, such as pain relief or the alleviation of anxiety. These effects become enhanced when the body is met with a fuller spectrum of the compounds found in the cannabis plant. The entourage effect varies and is dependent upon the type of CBD that is consumed. CBD isolate, for example, is a pure CBD extract that doesn't contain other cannabinoids or terpenes, which means that it doesn't present the body with the opportunity to experience the entourage effect. However, there are pros and cons to utilizing CBD isolate, as this variety is most common in states that have more restrictions on the inclusion and consumption of THC.
Full spectrum, on the other hand, is manufactured utilizing the whole plant. In other words, full spectrum CBD includes a full range of cannabinoids and terpenes found in the cannabis plant, allowing for the entourage effect to be delivered. Alternatively, broad spectrum CBD products are a bit of a mix between the two, and due to the inclusion of some additional cannabinoids, they will allow for the entourage effect to be exercised.
While the effects of THC and CBD can vary among individual users, many have found in their own experiences that taking CBD can help counteract the intensity of the psychoactive effects brought on by consuming THC. Others find that the entourage effect allows them to customize their personal usage and treatment, tailoring their experience with the experimentation of different THC to CBD ratios. When discussing the entourage effect, being mindful of the concentration of THC to CBD is a key component to consider. Ultimately, as conversations centering around the entourage effect continue to grow, so does the demand for more accompanying research to learn more about how THC, CBD and the body interact with one another.