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The Entourage Effect

The Entourage Effect


If you are someone who likes to research for information on cannabis, and more specifically CBD, whether it is online or through books, you are likely to have come across something called the “entourage effect”. So, what is it?

Research suggests (Ferber et. al., 2020; Ethan, 2018) that combining cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) along with smaller organic compounds in the cannabis plant, known as flavonoids, and terpenes or terpenoids, produces a more significant effect than taking CBD or THC alone. This combined effect is due to an interaction between phytocannabinoids and terpenes called “the entourage effect.”


What are Terpenes?

Terpenes are plant chemicals that produce a certain smell or taste. For example, the intense and pleasant smell that hits you as you peel an orange: that’s caused by terpenes. The aromatic tea tree oil in your facial cleanser, that’s got terpenes in too. Some common terpenes include:

  • Limonene, found in citrus fruit peel
  • Linalool, main component of lavender
  • Mycerne, found in mangos
  • Pinene, from pine resin
  • Eucalyptol, from eucalyptus and tea tree
  • Nerolidol, found in ginger and lemongrass

All the terpene types listed above are also found in the cannabis plant-- along with over 100 other compounds.

You may have also come across the term "terpenoids" as well as "terpenes" when discussing the health benefits of CBD. The two terms are sometimes used interchangeably, however, they have slightly different meanings.


Cannabis terpenes are organic hydrocarbons found naturally within the cannabis plant. A hydrocarbon simply means a chemical that only contains hydrogen and carbon molecules, although these can be bonded together in many different ways.


Altering terpenes (usually in a drying process) creates terpenoids. While drying out, terpenes undergo oxidization, which alters the chemical structure, creating terpenoids.


Flavonoids are plant chemicals that are present in a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, herbs and other plant life. The flavonoid compounds in plant matter contribute to the plant’s appearance. For example, the presence of certain flavonoids in many fruits contributes to the fruit’s colour.

In addition to affecting the appearance of plant life, flavonoids can also affect the taste of certain fruits, vegetables and herbs. 

Scientists have long known that a diet rich in fruits and vegetables is the key to a healthy, longer life. Recently, research is starting to show that many of the health benefits associated with fruits, vegetables and other natural plant matter is due to the presence of certain flavonoids.

For example, certain flavonoids are linked to antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects within the body. Like other plants, the hemp and cannabis plants are rich in flavonoids, which may be key contributors to their potential health benefits. 

 The Entourage Effect: The Magic Of Cannabis | Firefly Vapor

Potential Benefits

Studies have been looking at the phenomenon’s potential benefits. A review of studies in the British Journal of Pharmacology (Russo, 2011) found that combining terpenes and phytocannabinoids together may have a positive effect on pain, anxiety, epilepsy, inflammation, cancer and fungal infection. It found that they offer complementary pharmacological activities that may strengthen and broaden clinical application and improve the therapeutic index of cannabis extracts.

Katrina Weston-Green’s 2018 study found that the entourage effect may be beneficial to brain health. Certain flavonoids and terpenes may provide neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory effects. The researchers recommended that these compounds could improve CBD’s medicinal potential.   

While it may be that THC and CBD work better together than alone, it’s important to remember that cannabis affects everyone differently — and everyone’s goals for cannabis use are different.


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