The Entourage Effect
Before we dive deeply into the different terpenes and cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant, it’s important to first talk about The Entourage Effect.
Along with THC, the cannabis plant produces over 400 different chemical compounds that include dozens of other cannabinoids like CBD and CBN, and hundreds terpenes like pinene, linalool and myrcene. When the compounds are applied together (whether it’s through smoking, vaping or especially transdermal applications), they work to provide unique effects and benefits.
Think of it like The Beatles. There is no doubt that John, Ringo, George and Paul have had successful solo careers. But they were never as good as when they were creating music together. That’s the entourage effect!
The entourage effect is a good reminder for patients not to focus on one specific cannabinoid or terpene for their relief. In a 2011 study titled “Taming THC: potential cannabis synergy and phytocannabinoid-terpenoid entourage effects”, Dr. Ethan Russo studied the benefits of common cannabis compounds. This study confirmed the widely known fact that CBD helps buffer the anxiety and paranoia that can come with consuming THC.
Another exciting discovery was that while pure CBG can powerfully inhibit MRSA bacteria, when it is combined with the terpene pinene (also known for being effective against antibiotic resistant bacterial strains) further enhanced it’s antibiotic effects thanks to the increased permeability that terpenes provide.
One of the other noted combinations was CBN with THC acting as a more effective sedative than when either was used alone. In the cannabis market today, you see that data reflected in tinctures and vape pens with the high CBN to THC ratios being featured as a potential aid for sleep.
While it’s still considered a theory, it’s promising to see more studies being done to confirm what consumers seem to have known for ages.