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What is the CBD Entourage Effect?

One of the buzz terms around CBD products is the Entourage Effect. Most CBD company’s marketing materials are packed full of references to it and how it increases the benefit you can get from CBD. But what is exactly is it? And, more importantly, is it real and are the claims true?

There is compelling evidence of the Entourage Effect.  Combining different compounds of the Cannabis plant can alter the physiological effects.

The Theory

S Ben Shabat and Raphael Mechoulam, two prominent Cannabis researchers, introduced the term in 1998 and noted ‘This type of synergism may play a role in the widely held view that in some cases plants are better drugs than the natural products isolated from them.’ In short, the sum is equal to more than the parts. The theory is that by combining all the elements of the hemp plant; 113 cannabinoids, flavonoids, terpenes and fatty acids these compounds work together to increase the benefits, as opposed to isolating the compounds and taking them individually. Raphael Mechoulam is a true giant in the field, he was the first person to successfully isolate CBD and THC from the Cannabis plant.

The Evidence

There is compelling evidence of the Entourage Effect.  Combining different compounds of the Cannabis plant can alter the physiological effects. One compound can multiply the effect of others; whilst another compound can reduce the effects. This was made very clear in a 2015 study, where a 10 mg dose of THC caused psychotic symptoms in 40% of participants. However, when testing with a 1:1 CBD/THC ratio for Sativex (the licensed medicine containing CBD to treat Multiple Sclerosis), even at doses of 48mg, only 4% of participants displayed psychotic symptoms. This shows that the presence of the CBD reduces the psychoactive effects of the THC, this is the Entourage Effect at work.

Further, a 2011 review of preceding studies that had researched the Entourage Effect, by prolific cannabis researcher Ethan Russo, Russo concluded ‘Considered ensemble, the preceding body of information supports the concept’. However, it is worth noting that Russo was considering the evidence of previous studies in terms of potential cross breeding of cannabis strains to manipulate the Entourage Effect for specific therapeutic treatments, the fact remains the Entourage Effect is very much a real phenomenon. Moreover, a 2001 study, where Russo was a collaborator, found that ‘good evidence shows that secondary compounds in cannabis may enhance the beneficial effects of THC’.

The Relevance

So, there is pretty concrete evidence that different arrangements of cannabinoids in combination can produce different effects. This, in essence, is what the Entourage Effect is. However, here is the caveat; is this relevant to CBD products? Is there any benefit of Broad or Full Spectrum products? Well, this is where it gets a little less clear. Whilst many CBD companies bang on about the Entourage Effect at every given opportunity, the evidence for any additional benefit from Broad or Full Spectrum products is very limited. Most clinical studies, especially the larger ones that people like to quote when talking about CBD benefits, were conducted with CBD Isolate. In this extract, the CBD is isolated to an individual compound and is taken by itself with no other cannabinoids, flavonoids or terpenes present. These trials showed this to be an effective product, so don’t underestimate the benefits of CBD isolate.

Mondo CBD and The Entourage Effect

Like most things CBD, companies selling it make claims like “our products allow you to benefit from the entourage effect”. This is fine, if they explained what the Entourage Effect is and provided some evidence. Or referenced any studies into the Entourage Effect. At Mondo, we are different. We don’t use empty marketing terms, we provide factual, unbiased information. That said, we do believe the term Entourage Effect to be an overused marketing term. However, we do genuinely believe that Broad and Full Spectrum products are the best CBD products available.

The very limited studies into the Entourage Effect of Broad or Full Spectrum CBD products have been inconclusive, and the double-blind clinical trials, the gold standard of research studies, have all been based on THC. In conclusion, given our personal experience of taking CBD every day, plus what we have seen from the wider community, Mondo CBD recommend Broad or Full Spectrum.