oh high there
oh high there
When it comes to cannabis, there is a popular school of thought that interactions between the various chemical compounds present, such as CBD and THC, terpenes, and flavonoids, produce a synergistic ‘entourage effect’ that alters the overall effect.
Basically, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.
While indica, sativa, or hybrid categories and THC/CBD levels have historically been used to identify expected effects, increasingly the ‘entourage effect’ of cannabinoids and terpenes is being looked as a way of understanding and predicting experiences.
The term was coined when it was noted that full-spectrum (whole plant) botanical drugs were often more effective than isolated versions of the active compounds. Research is still ongoing but various theories centre around the notion that the whole plant is more effective than just THC or CBD on its own, due to the effects that terpenes and other cannabinoids have on each other.
Working together: CBD and THC
Here’s a quick recap of how the two most well-known cannabinoids interact with your body through the Endocannabinoid System (ECS). The ECS helps regulate everyday bodily functions (sleep, pain, metabolism etc) and cannabinoids act as chemical messengers that bind to specialized CB1 and CB2 receptors to start and stop processes in the body.
CB1 receptors are mainly found in the brain and central nervous system and are thought to regulate stress, anxiety, appetite, and nausea. CB2 receptors are more associated with anti-inflammatory and healing properties in other major organs.
THC mainly interacts with CB1 receptors and CBD has been shown to have an 'allosteric' like affect in this interaction, mitigating some of the negative/anxious effects of THC when the two are consumed together.
Terpenes and the entourage effect
Chewing black peppercorns can help when you're too high. Why? It’s thanks to terpenes - aromatic compounds found in plants that each have their own properties and uses.
Caryophyllene is the spicy terpene that gives pepper its kick. It’s also found in some strains of cannabis and it’s thought that it’s unique molecular structure allows it to bind to CB2 receptors and help to lessen the anxiety that can occur in over-consumption of THC. This is still being studied though, and more recent findings suggest that terpenes might not interact with the ECS quite as much as first thought.
The entourage effect could also explain why we generally categorize cannabis into Indica and Sativa, even though there has been so much hybridization of the species. Indicas tend to be high in the sedating terpene myrcene and Sativas lean towards being high in the more stimulating limonene. These Indica and Sativa effects are often simply attributed to an out-dated view of ‘plant type’, rather than an entourage effect of cannabinoids such as THC and CBD interacting with terpenes.