The Power of the Entourage Effect: Benefits of Mixing CBD and THC

Three light green hemp flower buds covered in trichomes and orange hairs.

Chances are that if you’ve done any research into Cannabis related products, such as CBD, you’ve heard of the phenomenon called the “entourage effect”.

The entourage effect is beneficial for a heightened overall experience. When curated well, the combination of CBD and THC can bring out the positive effects of each compound. The effectiveness of each component individually is still relevant, but when put together, the effectiveness is proven to increase. 

But what is the entourage effect exactly? Do only certain types of cannabis products produce it? Is it important? In this article, we’ll cover everything that you need to know about the entourage effect, amplifying CBD benefits with it, and how it may play a crucial role in the future of CBD products.

What is the entourage effect?

The entourage effect is a phenomenon that occurs when multiple cannabis compounds (such as CBD and THC) work together to enhance the effects of one another.

Scientists have shown that when cannabinoids like CBD and THC together are taken in conjunction with terpenes, they compliment each other and create a powerful compounding effect.

Because of the entourage effect cannabis compounds will deliver stronger and more effective results when taken together than any single compound could alone.

For example, myrcene (the most common terpene found in cannabis) helps cannabinoids cross the blood-brain barrier more easily and causes THC to have more of a sedative effect than it might when taken alone.

Other examples of how the entourage effect works is that CBD (with the help of specific terpenes) lessens the loss of long-term memory associated with THC, and diminishes the overall psychoactivity of THC.

How it works

Before you can understand how the entourage effect works, you need to know that there are over 400 different compounds found naturally in hemp/cannabis. This includes:

Each of these compounds produces different biochemical effects on the human body.

The entourage effect operates based on the theory that the combination of these compounds has a synergistic effect, and that they work better in the presence of each other.

If you’ve ever smoked cannabis then you know that every strain produces a slightly different effect. Some strains will make you very hungry, some will make you energized, and others might have you passed out on the couch.

This is because every strain has a different combination of the compounds mentioned earlier. Each one interacts with others in its own unique way, resulting in varied effects.

Let’s say that you’re looking to cure your insomnia. Taking pure CBD may provide some relief, but what if there are other compounds in cannabis that compliment CBD to enhance the drowsiness effect? 

Wouldn’t you want to harness the full potential of the plant to maximize the effect that you’re searching for?

This in essence is the “entourage effect”. The health benefits of cannabis are so numerous — with so many different compounds offering therapeutic effects, you will always experience more powerful results when consuming them together than isolating one and taking it alone.

Brown bottle of CBD with eyedropper laying flat in front and lush green cannabis behind.

Do all CBD products produce the entourage effect?

Now that you understand what the entourage effect is and how it works, it’s important to note that not all CBD products will allow you to harness this effect.

There are currently three types of CBD products available on the market:

  • Full Spectrum– Contains all phytochemicals naturally found in the plant, including CBD, trace cannabinoids, terpenes, and essential oils, as well as a small amount of THC—  below 0.3%
    • Allows you to harness the full potential of the entourage effect
  • Broad Spectrum– begins as a full-spectrum oil, with the full range of beneficial cannabinoids, terpenes, and essential oils, but it then goes through a refinement process to remove all THC compounds.
    • Allows you to enjoy some of the benefits from the entourage effect
  • CBD Isolate – Pure CBD that has been through a refinement process to remove all other compounds.
    • No entourage effect

As natural compounds are removed during the refinement process, the power of the entourage effect diminishes.

How does the entourage effect make you feel?

The entourage effect will give you a heightened experience of both the CBD and THC effects, but in a blended way that typically feels relaxing. In most cases, the combination will increase benefits such as helping with insomnia, acting as an anti-inflammatory, and decreasing feelings of anxiety. 

Often, the more negative side effects associated with THC, like feelings of panic, can be reduced or eliminated by the presence of CBD. For this reason, many retailers are working on developing strains of marijuana that have a high CBD presence so that the high produced by THC is more smooth and calm.

Does the entourage effect make you feel high?

When consuming CBD products, you will not feel any high. The federal limit in the US is below .03% THC in any CBD product, which is not enough to cause a high, but it is enough to make your CBD more potent. The more relevant effects of CBD products include relaxation and pain relief.

How does the entourage effect work?

While individual compounds in cannabis work well to produce a myriad of effects, all cannabinoids work better when combined. They bring out the best in one another. 

Scientifically, the combination of the CBD and THC shows that the benefits are increased because of how the chemicals interact. When the dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine receptors are activated, they help increase feelings of ease and happiness. This is where the anti-anxiety effect of CBD comes into play. 

The entourage effect works as a proven scientific mechanism to bring out the best of both components. It is often curated by the farmer and sold as such.

The future of CBD

As of today, using hemp/cannabis is kind of like taking a handful of medicine and hoping that it solves whatever issue you’re experiencing.

In a perfect world, scientists will understand exactly how each cannabis compound interacts with one another and how they affect the human body.

This will allow them to create precise combinations of cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids to target specific symptoms and diseases.

With over 400 natural compounds and an almost endless number of combinations that can be made, you can see why there’s so much excitement around this topic.

Hopefully, with more research, we’ll be able to better understand the entourage effect and leverage it to create more effective treatments for chronic illnesses such as cancer and cystic fibrosis.

Takeaway

There is no doubt that the entourage effect is generating a lot of attention. If it is real, it may change the way we use hemp and marijuana-based medicine forever.

The future of medical marijuana involves understanding and possibly leveraging the entourage effect to provide targeted solutions for specific conditions.

More research needs to be done in order to prove the theory correct, nonetheless, the idea that cannabinoids and terpenes are more effective when combined is a fascinating one.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Does broad spectrum CBD get you high?

Broad spectrum CBD cannot get you high. Unlike full spectrum CBD products, broad spectrum CBD products are specifically filtered to entirely remove THC. This makes it perfect for users who are worried about the negative subjective effects of THC, such as anxiety, or who might be worried about taking a drug test shortly after taking CBD. 

However, it is unlikely that even full spectrum CBD will get you high or produce psychoactive effects. The percentage of THC legally allowed in CBD products is less than 0.3%, which is not enough to get you high, even if you take a significant amount. 

How can I improve my CBD effects?

Improving CBD’s bioavailability, or the measure of how much of a drug is absorbed into the body upon use, can be a way to increase the impact of your CBD. 

Bioavailability and drug absorption can be increased by eating a diet conducive to drug absorption. High-fat diets allow for compounds to be absorbed more readily, so it may pay off to eat a meal rich in healthy fats before taking your CBD for the day. Nuts, avocados, and fish may also have a similar effect. Additionally, certain other drugs like caffeine may amplify absorption into the bloodstream, so a homemade CBD latte may give you more bang for your buck. 

Additionally, the method by which you consume your CBD can have an impact on how quickly it is absorbed, how intensely its effects are felt, and how long it stays in your system. Vaping and smoking CBD oil can have you feeling the effects of your CBD very quickly, and has a relatively high rate of absorption (your body absorbs around 30%-60% of the CBD). Sublingual CBD absorbs relatively quickly as well. Edibles may take up to 2 hours to absorb, and you will only absorb about 20-30 percent of the CBD. Topical CBD will not enter the bloodstream at all. 

Finally, harnessing the entourage effect can amplify many of the health benefits found in CBD alone. Consider choosing a full-spectrum CBD product, or taking CBD oil while or before smoking weed. 

Is CBD or CBG better?

At first blush, CBD and CBG (or cannabigerol) seem quite similar. Both are non-psychoactive (meaning they cannot get you high), and they both have the effect of mitigating feelings of paranoia and anxiety that come with the consumption of THC. Additionally, CBG seems to offer a variety of potential therapeutic benefits, including treating glaucoma, inflammation, Huntingdon’s disease, and limiting tumor growth. CBD also offers a whole host of health benefits, though the research is still quite early. 

However, CBG is found in much lower quantities in the Cannabis plant than CBD. This makes the extraction and sale of CBG much more costly and difficult than the extraction of CBD, so it makes sense that the market would prioritize the compound that is cheaper and more abundant. CBG is also more present in the early season of cannabis growing, whereas plants harvested for CBD are typically harvested much later in the season. The early peak for CBG amounts means that farmers must make a choice between having a crop that can be used and harvested for a variety of purposes, or if they want to choose to only be growing their crop for the purpose of harvesting CBG. 

Because the body of research comparing the two is so limited, it’s difficult to say at this point which compound is more effective or better for you. It’s worth noting that the two may have similar effects on pain, but that they have typically been used to treat different ailments. So it may be valuable to examine the effectiveness of each drug for whatever you’re looking to treat, rather than examining them against one another. 

One thing is for sure, however — the two compounds work better when combined than they do alone, just like most compounds found in the cannabis plant. 

How long does CBD stay in the system?

Many variables can affect how long CBD will stay in your system, including: 

  • Frequency of use
  • Body weight
  • Dosage
  • Consumption of water or food
  • Method of consumption

However, on average, CBD will stay in your body for anywhere between 2-5 days (though you will likely stop feeling its effects long before then unless you redose). 

If you are worried about the possibility of CBD in your bloodstream affecting a future drug test, don’t worry — CBD is not included on a typical 10-panel drug test. In order to test you for CBD, in fact, your employer would likely have to specially commission a CBD test. CBD is non-habit forming, and it is also not an inebriant, so there would be no reason for an employer to test you for it. 

Josh Murdoch

Josh Murdoch

I was born with Cystic Fibrosis, and although it is incurable, CBD and THC have been allowing me to live my life as a healthy adult now for years. For that reason, I’ve dedicated my career to spreading the good news about cannabinoids. Currently, I work for a vertically integrated cannabis company called Unrivaled Brands that operates in California, Oregon, and Nevada. Previously, I worked on two cannabis farms in northern California, one of which was located in the famous Humboldt County. I’ve also managed a medical cannabis delivery service in Marin County, California. I created CBD Facilitator to share what I’ve learned, and to recommend the best products that I have found in this chaotic market.

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