The Entourage Effect in CBD and Cannabis - How Compounds Work Together

THC and CBD are two of the most widely known compounds in the cannabis plant. Yet the truth is, there are many different compounds that the plant produces that play a supporting role in the overall effects of a particular strain. That supporting role, and the effects and benefits that it offers, have been coined by many as “the entourage effect.” 


An easy way to understand the entourage effect is to think of it as your favorite band. One band member on their own doesn’t achieve true harmony or the music you know and love, but collaboratively, when working together, all band members can create magic. 


We know that the entourage effect includes many different cannabinoids, some of which we highlighted last month, as well as terpenes which are aromatic compounds but to illustrate the entourage effect in cannabis,  let’s consider two of the most notable compounds: THC and CBD. 


CBD is sold in the form of gels, oils, supplements, extracts and so much more. THC is the main psychoactive compound in cannabis that produces the sensation of a ‘high.’ THC can be consumed by smoking, through oils, edibles, tinctures, and more. And while both compounds interact with your body’s system, they can have very different effects. A great example of this is that CBD has been found to enhance THC’s painkilling properties while also diminishing the paranoia it can cause. Because of this, the two compounds act as teammates resulting in the entourage effect. In fact, many believe that these entourage compounds, when working together, have the capacity to produce positive effects and could lead to medicinal benefits too. 


So how does it work? The entourage effect occurs when the different components change the activity of naturally occurring cannabinoid receptors in our brain and our endogenous cannabinoids, also known as endocannabinoids. 


For those who don’t know, endocannabinoids are molecules made by the body. And the endocannabinoid system (ECS) is an active cell signaling network involving a combination of enzymes and cannabinoid receptors and enzymes to help regulate many functions in the human body including sleep, appetite, memory, mood, and more.


The cannabinoid receptors in the body can play a critical role in the entourage effect because of how they signal the ECS to take action: 


  • CB1 receptors, that are mostly found in the nervous system 
  • CB2 receptors that are mostly found in your peripheral nervous system and immune cells. 

THC interacts with your ECS by binding to both CB1 and CB2 receptors. For that reason, THC allows you to have a range of effects in the body. A great example of this is while THC can reduce pain and stimulate appetite, it can cause paranoia and anxiety. 


CBD is much different. While experts aren’t sure how CBD interacts with ECS, they do know that it doesn’t bind to CB1 and CB2 receptors like THC does. Instead, research suggests that it works by preventing endocannabinoids from breaking down, allowing them to have more of an effect on the body. 


So, knowing that terpenes, flavonoids, and other lesser-known cannabis compounds play a role in producing a robust entourage effect, how might this knowledge impact a consumer’s choice of cannabis product? One thing to consider is the difference between full-spectrum CBD and CBD isolate. 


CBD isolate products are refined to only contain CBD meaning that these products do not create an entourage effect.


Full-spectrum CBD products though, like those we offer at Tap Root Fields, contain small, legal amounts of THC and the lesser known cannabinoids too. Research has shown that CBD combined with other cannabinoids may be useful in  the treatment of anxiety, pain, inflammation and so much more. Because we work to keep the compounds as naturally occurring as possible, it’s one of our greatest assets that we offer from our root to you.


Key takeaways:

  • Defining what the entourage effect is (when all compounds are taken together they produce a better effect than when taken alone)
  • Includes many different cannabinoids - not just THC and CBD (can link back to last month’s blog) and terpenes (define)
  • One example of the entourage effect (the most well researched) is how CBD may limit unwanted THC effects. Different ratios for different effects with so many diverse and useful compounds
  • The therapeutic effects of compounds binding with naturally occuring endocannabinoid receptors in the brain & central nervous system. (Some of the science behind it)
  • All of TRF products are full-spectrum (as opposed to broad-spectrum) meaning there are trace THC amounts in our CBD (and all other naturally occurring cannabinoids) in order for the consumer to enjoy the entourage effect
  • This is a good “from root to you” example because we work to keep the compounds as naturally occurring as possible without isolating specific compounds

Good resources: