What is The Entourage Effect in Cannabis?

The Entourage Effect in Cannabis

The Entourage Effect: A Comprehensive Guide

Cannabis has been used for medicinal and recreational purposes for centuries. However, it wasn't until the 20th century that scientists began to uncover how cannabis compounds interact with the human body. One of the most fascinating discoveries is the entourage effect, which has revolutionised our understanding of how cannabinoids and terpenes work together.

Definition of the Entourage Effect:
The entourage effect is a phenomenon where multiple compounds in cannabis work together to produce a stronger physiological or psychological effect than any individual compound on its own.

In other words, it's the synergistic relationship between cannabinoids - like e.g. THC and CBD - and terpenes like e.g. limonene and linalool - that enhances their therapeutic potential.

Brief History of its Discovery

The term "entourage effect" was first coined by renowned cannabis scientist Dr. Raphael Mechoulam in 1999. Dr. Mechoulam was studying how THC interacts with the human body when he discovered that other compounds in cannabis were also having an impact on its effects.

Dr. Mechoulam entourage effect

Since then, researchers have been investigating this phenomenon in greater detail, looking at how different cannabinoid-terpene combinations affect various physiological processes.

Importance in the Cannabis Industry

The entourage effect has significant implications for the cannabis industry because it suggests that whole-plant extracts are more effective than isolates or single compounds. As such, many companies now offer full-spectrum products that contain a range of cannabinoids and terpenes to leverage this natural synergy for maximum therapeutic benefit. This approach is particularly relevant for medical cannabis users who require personalised treatment options based on their unique symptoms or conditions.

Understanding the entourage effect is fundamental to maximizing the therapeutic potential of cannabis-based products. The next section will delve into some of the scientific principles behind this phenomenon, including how cannabinoids and terpenes interact with each other and the role of receptor sites in the human body.

The Science Behind the Entourage Effect

The Science Behind the Entourage Effect

The entourage effect is a complex interaction between cannabinoids and terpenes that produces unique therapeutic benefits. Understanding this relationship is crucial for developing personalized cannabis treatments that are tailored to individual needs. By exploring how different combinations of cannabinoids and terpenes affect receptor activity, we can better understand the potential benefits and limitations of cannabis as a therapeutic medicine.

A Synergistic Relationship: Cannabinoids and Terpenes

Cannabinoids and terpenes are two key components found in cannabis plants that work together to produce the entourage effect. Cannabinoids are chemical compounds, such as tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), that interact with the body's endocannabinoid system.

Product Type Cannabinoid Content Terpene Content Potential for Entourage Effect
Full-Spectrum Contains all cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant, including THC Contains all terpenes found in the cannabis plant High (due to presence of all cannabinoids and terpenes)
Broad-Spectrum Contains all cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant, except THC Contains all or most terpenes found in the cannabis plant Medium (due to presence of most cannabinoids and all terpenes, but lacks THC)
Isolate Contains only one cannabinoid, usually CBD Does not contain any terpenes Low (due to absence of other cannabinoids and terpenes)

Buy full-spectrum CBD oils here.

Terpenes, on the other hand, are aromatic compounds that provide a plant's distinctive scent and flavor. Research has shown that terpenes can enhance the effects of cannabinoids by affecting how they are absorbed and utilized by the body.

For example, myrcene, a terpene commonly found in many strains of cannabis, has been shown to increase cannabinoid permeability across cell membranes. This means that more cannabinoids can enter cells and interact with receptor sites in the body.

Myrcene: The Mighty Terpene and Its Potential Benefits for Humans.

The Role of Receptor Sites

In order for cannabinoids to produce their effects on the body, they must interact with specific receptor sites located throughout our cells and tissues. The Endocannabinoid System is made up of two types of receptors - CB1 receptors primarily found in the brain and central nervous system, and CB2 receptors primarily found in immune cells. When THC interacts with CB1 receptors, it produces psychoactive effects such as euphoria or altered perception.

CBD interacts differently with both CB1 and CB2 receptors to produce therapeutic effects like pain relief or reduced inflammation. Terpenes also play a role in cannabinoid receptor activity by modulating receptor signaling pathways or even directly interacting with them themselves.

Strain-Specific Effects

Different cannabis strains have varying levels of cannabinoids and terpenes present which contributes to their unique properties. For example, strains high in myrcene may produce sedative effects, while strains high in limonene may produce an uplifting mood. Research has also shown that the specific combination of cannabinoids and terpenes can produce different effects than either compound alone.

This suggests that certain strains or combinations may be more effective for treating specific conditions. However, more research is needed to fully understand the extent of this relationship.

The Benefits of Utilising the Entourage Effect

Overall, the benefits of utilizing the entourage effect cannot be overstated. By combining cannabinoids and terpenes through full-spectrum extracts or cannabis flower, users can achieve enhanced therapeutic effects, reduce negative side effects associated with cannabis consumption, and enjoy more personalized treatment options for their specific conditions. As research into cannabis continues to grow, it's likely that we will only learn more about this powerful phenomenon - opening up even more possibilities for those who rely on cannabis as a form of therapy.

Increased Effectiveness of Cannabis Products

One of the primary benefits of utilizing the entourage effect is that it can significantly increase the effectiveness of cannabis products. This is because when cannabinoids work together with terpenes and other compounds, they produce a synergistic effect that enhances their therapeutic properties.

Benefits of the Entourage Effect Limitations of the Entourage Effect
Enhanced therapeutic effects due to synergy of cannabinoids and terpenes. Lack of extensive scientific research on specific combinations of cannabinoids and terpenes.
Reduced side effects due to balancing effects of different compounds. Difficulty in standardizing products for consistent results
Broader spectrum of benefits due to interaction of different cannabinoids and terpenes. Skepticism from some members of the medical community.
Increased effectiveness of cannabis products. Legal restrictions on cannabis research in some countries.
More personalised treatment options. Difficulty in replicating specific formulations with precision.

For example, when THC and CBD are combined, studies have shown that they can effectively reduce inflammation and pain in ways that would be impossible with either compound alone. Additionally, by using a full-spectrum cannabis extract rather than isolating individual cannabinoids, users can benefit from a wider range of therapeutic effects.

This is because different cannabinoids interact with different receptor sites in the body and produce different effects. By combining multiple cannabinoids in one product, users can achieve a more comprehensive level of relief for their symptoms.

Reduction in Negative Side Effects

Another significant benefit of utilizing the entourage effect is that it can help to reduce negative side effects associated with cannabis consumption. For example, some people experience anxiety or paranoia when consuming high levels of THC on its own. 

The article titled Gone to Pot – A Review of the Association between Cannabis and Psychosis published in Front Psychiatry in 2014 provides a comprehensive review of the relationship between cannabis use and the onset of psychosis. The authors, Rajiv Radhakrishnan, Samuel T. Wilkinson, and Deepak Cyril D’Souza, discuss how cannabis, particularly its active component THC, can induce a range of transient psychotomimetic symptoms, cognitive deficits, and psychophysiological abnormalities that bear a striking resemblance to symptoms of schizophrenia.

The article highlights that acute exposure to both cannabis and synthetic cannabinoids (Spice/K2) can produce these effects. In individuals with an established psychotic disorder, cannabinoids can exacerbate symptoms, trigger relapse, and have negative consequences on the course of the illness. The authors also note that exposure to cannabinoids in adolescence confers a higher risk for psychosis outcomes in later life and the risk is dose-related.

The authors conclude that the evidence indicates that cannabis may be a component cause in the emergence of psychosis, and this warrants serious consideration from the point of view of public health policy. This study provides substantial evidence supporting the claim that THC can cause experiences of anxiety or paranoia.

Research has documented that when THC is combined with CBD and other terpenes like limonene or linalool which have anxiolytic properties, these negative side effects may be reduced or eliminated altogether.

Similarly, by using full-spectrum CBD oils rather than CBD isolates, users may be able to achieve their desired therapeutic effects at lower doses overall. This is because isolated compounds often require higher doses to elicit their desired therapeutic effect - but by combining them with other compounds through the entourage effect, users may be able to achieve similar therapeutic outcomes at lower doses overall.

More Personalized Treatment Options

The entourage effect also provides users with more personalized treatment options for their specific conditions and symptoms. Because cannabis strains contain varying combinations and concentrations of cannabinoids and terpenes, users can experiment with different strains to find the one that works best for them. For example, a person suffering from chronic pain may find that a strain high in CBD and myrcene provides better relief than one with higher levels of THC.

Additionally, because the entourage effect allows for more comprehensive and nuanced therapeutic effects, healthcare providers may be able to recommend specific strains or products based on their persons' individual needs. This personalised approach can lead to better treatment outcomes overall.

Controversies Surrounding the Entourage Effect

The entourage effect has been praised for its potential to enhance the therapeutic benefits of cannabis, but it has also faced criticism and skepticism from some members of the medical community. One concern is the lack of scientific research on specific combinations of cannabinoids and terpenes that may be most effective for certain conditions.

While anecdotal evidence suggests that certain strains and formulations may work better than others, there is a need for more rigorous studies to determine optimal ratios and dosages. Another issue is the difficulty in standardizing products for consistent results.

Cannabis plants can vary widely in their chemical composition depending on factors such as growing conditions, harvesting methods, and processing techniques. This makes it challenging to replicate specific formulations with precision, which could impact the efficacy of products marketed as having an entourage effect.

Lack of Scientific Research on Specific Combinations

Despite increased interest in the entourage effect, there is still much to learn about how different cannabinoids and terpenes interact with each other. Many studies have focused on individual compounds rather than complex formulations, making it difficult to draw conclusions about how they work together. There is a need for more research to identify which combinations are most effective for various health conditions.

In addition, there are limitations in current research methods when it comes to studying cannabis due to its federally illegal status in many countries. This has hindered scientific progress by limiting funding opportunities and making it difficult for researchers to access high-quality cannabis products for clinical trials.

Difficulty in Standardising Products for Consistent Results

Standardisation is essential when developing pharmaceutical products to ensure consistent dosages and uniformity between batches. However, achieving this can be challenging in the case of cannabis due to variations in plant genetics and growing conditions.

One solution could be to use synthetic or biosynthesized versions of cannabinoids and terpenes, which would allow for greater consistency and quality control. However, this approach raises ethical concerns and may not be feasible on a large scale.

Skepticism from the Medical Community

Despite promising results from anecdotal evidence and some preliminary studies, there are still some members of the medical community who remain skeptical about the entourage effect. Some argue that it is simply a marketing term used to sell products, rather than a scientifically proven phenomenon.

Others question whether the potential benefits of the entourage effect are outweighed by the risks associated with cannabis use, such as addiction and cognitive impairment. Advocates for the entourage effect argue that these concerns can be addressed through responsible use and proper dosing.

Ultimately, more research is needed to fully understand the entourage effect and its potential benefits and limitations. While there are valid concerns about standardization and scientific rigor, many people believe that cannabis has enormous therapeutic potential that should not be ignored.


The entourage effect is a concept that explains how different cannabinoids and terpenes interact with each other to produce varying effects in the human body. The discovery of this phenomenon has significant implications for the cannabis industry, as it provides a more nuanced understanding of how cannabis can be used for medicinal purposes.

By using products that take advantage of this effect, users may experience increased effectiveness and fewer negative side effects. The science behind the entourage effect is complex and involves interactions between various receptor sites in the body.

However, by understanding the different roles that cannabinoids and terpenes play, it becomes clear why certain strains produce certain effects. 

Despite its potential benefits, there are still controversies surrounding the entourage effect, including a lack of standardization in products and skepticism from some members of the medical community. More research is needed to understand specific combinations of cannabinoids and terpenes for optimal results.

Future potential for further research and development

The entourage effect offers exciting opportunities for further research and development in both medical cannabis treatment options as well as recreational use. With continued exploration into precise combinations of cannabinoids and terpenes, we could see even greater personalized treatment options with reduced negative side effects.

Research into new components could also uncover additional beneficial compounds not yet discovered within cannabis plants; with advancements like CRISPR technology providing new ways to study genes through genetic engineering techniques.

Regardless of future scientific discoveries surrounding cannabis compounds or possible legislation changes towards legalization on a global scale; one thing remains clear: by utilizing what we currently know about cannabinoid-terpene synergy now can already offer better therapeutic outcomes than selective isolated compounds alone.

It is time we leverage the knowledge of the entourage effect to innovate and create products that make a real difference in people's lives.

FAQs: The Entourage Effect

1. What is the entourage effect?

The entourage effect is a proposed mechanism by which the different compounds in cannabis work together to enhance the overall effects of the plant. This includes cannabinoids like THC and CBD, as well as terpenes.

2. How does the entourage effect work?

The entourage effect works by the various compounds in cannabis influencing each other's mechanisms of action. This can enhance the therapeutic effects of the plant and reduce potential side effects.

3. What are the benefits of the entourage effect?

The benefits of the entourage effect include enhanced therapeutic effects, reduced side effects, and a broader spectrum of benefits due to the interaction of different cannabinoids and terpenes.

4. Can the entourage effect help with pain management?

Yes, the entourage effect can help with pain management. The combination of different cannabinoids and terpenes can enhance the analgesic effects of cannabis, making it more effective for pain relief.

5. Does CBD or THC alone provide the entourage effect?

No, CBD or THC alone does not provide the entourage effect. The entourage effect is a result of the interaction of multiple compounds in cannabis, including various cannabinoids and terpenes.

6. What is the role of terpenes in the entourage effect?

Terpenes play a crucial role in the entourage effect. They can modify the effects of cannabinoids, potentially enhancing their therapeutic benefits and reducing side effects.

7. How does the entourage effect influence the medical use of cannabis?

The entourage effect can enhance the therapeutic potential of cannabis in medical use. It can improve the efficacy of cannabis-based treatments for conditions like pain, anxiety, epilepsy, and others.

8. Can the entourage effect be experienced with CBD oil?

Yes, the entourage effect can be experienced with CBD oil, but only if the oil is a full-spectrum or broad-spectrum product that contains a variety of cannabinoids and terpenes. CBD isolate does not provide the entourage effect.

9. Is the entourage effect supported by scientific research?

While the entourage effect is a widely accepted concept in the cannabis community, more scientific research is needed to fully understand and confirm its mechanisms and implications.

10. How can I maximize the entourage effect?

To maximize the entourage effect, consider using full-spectrum or broad-spectrum cannabis products that contain a variety of cannabinoids and terpenes. Also, personalised treatment plans considering individual needs and responses can help.


  • Russo, E. B. (2019). The Case for the Entourage Effect and Conventional Breeding of Clinical Cannabis: No “Strain,” No Gain. Frontiers in Plant Science, 9, 1969.
  • Ben-Shabat, S., Fride, E., Sheskin, T., Tamiri, T., Rhee, M. H., Vogel, Z., ... & Mechoulam, R. (1998). An entourage effect: inactive endogenous fatty acid glycerol esters enhance 2-arachidonoyl-glycerol cannabinoid activity. European Journal of Pharmacology, 353(1), 23-31.
  • Gallily, R., Yekhtin, Z., & Hanuš, L. O. (2015). Overcoming the bell-shaped dose-response of cannabidiol by using cannabis extract enriched in cannabidiol. Pharmacology & Pharmacy, 6(02), 75.
  • Johnson, J. R., Burnell-Nugent, M., Lossignol, D., Ganae-Motan, E. D., Potts, R., & Fallon, M. T. (2010). Multicenter, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, parallel-group study of the efficacy, safety, and tolerability of THC: CBD extract and THC extract in patients with intractable cancer-related pain. Journal of pain and symptom management, 39(2), 167-179.
  • Pamplona, F. A., da Silva, L. R., & Coan, A. C. (2018). Potential clinical benefits of CBD-rich cannabis extracts over purified CBD in treatment-resistant epilepsy: observational data meta-analysis. Frontiers in neurology, 9, 759.
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Robin Roy Krigslund-Hansen

Robin Roy Krigslund-Hansen

About the author:

Robin Roy Krigslund-Hansen is known for his extensive knowledge and expertise in the fields of CBD and hemp production. With a career spanning over a decade in the cannabis industry, he has dedicated his life to understanding the intricacies of these plants and their potential benefits to human health and the environment. Over the years, Robin has worked tirelessly to promote the full legalization of hemp in Europe. His fascination with the plant's versatility and potential for sustainable production led him to pursue a career in the field.

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