Terpenes and the Entourage Effect

August 15, 2020
Terpenes Weed and Effect
Terpenes Weed and Effect

What is the role of Terpenes and the Entourage Effect?

The entourage effect is essentially the manifestation of the concept of the whole being greater than the sum of the parts. It is the cumulative effect of the individual components as well as the effect of the combination and interaction between the components.


While many research studies, especially those using animals, use isolated, created cannabidiol molecules, most available products contain an extraction compound from the whole plans, often including CBD, and traces from over 400 substances, including THC.


Many of these substances communicate synergistically to develop a so-called “entourage effect” that increases the restorative benefits of specific plant components – so that the medicinal effect of the entire plant is higher than the sum of its components.


It is important to consider or not to have the entourage effect when extrapolating information based on animal testing: 100 milligrams of artificial single molecular CBD is not equal to 100 milligrams of a CBD-rich whole plant that removes marijuana.


“Cannabis is naturally polypharmaceutical,” Dr. John McPartland notes, “and synergies also arise from interactions between its numerous parts.”


Terpenes are unpredictable scent particles that evaporate quickly and can easily penetrate the nose. Numerous scientists have even highlighted the medical relevance of terpenoids which form the basis of aromatherapy, a popular alternative healing method.


Around 200 terpenes have been discovered in cannabis, but only a few of these oily materials are present in quantities significant enough to be detected unaided by people, animals, and insects in general, including monoterpenes, diterpenes, and sesquiterpenes. Terpenes in cannabis provide the plant with a long-lasting evolutionary advantage. Sharp terpene oils repel insects and also animal grazing animals; others stop fungi.


Terpenoids are healthy for both humans and plants. A report by Dr. Ethan Russo in September 2011 in the British Journal of Pharmacology examined the far-reaching healing properties of terpenoids that are not normally found in “CBD-only” products.


Beta-caryophyllene, for example, is a sesquiterpene found in the essential oil of black pepper, oregano and various other edible herbs, along with varying cannabis strains and also in numerous environmentally friendly, leafy vegetables. It is gastroprotective, is excellent for dealing with specific ulcers and also offers great promise as a therapeutic agent for inflammation and autoimmune diseases, as it binds directly to the peripheral cannabinoid receptor called “CB2.”


In 2008 the Swiss researcher Jürg Gertsch registered the binding tendency of beta-caryophyllene to the CB2 receptor and defined it also as a “nutritional cannabinoid.” It is the only known terpenoid that directly activates a cannabinoid receptor.


Terpenoids, as well as cannabinoids, both promote blood circulation, improve cortical activity, and kill microorganisms of the respiratory system, including MRSA, the antibiotic-resistant germs that have recently killed countless Americans. Dr. Russo’s short article documents that cannabinoid-terpenoid interactions can “create harmony in the treatment of discomfort, swelling, depression, anxiety, addiction, epilepsy, cancer, fungal infections, and microbial infections.”


The arrangement of the terpenes of cannabis – this “riot of fragrances,” as the poet and hashish-eater Arthur Rimbaud put it – plays another essential role.


Terpenes and CBD inhibit the difficult psychoactivity of THC. Cannabinoid-terpenoid interactions amplify the beneficial effects of cannabis and at the same time reduce the anxiety caused by THC.


The terpenoid amount can vary significantly from strain to strain. People who give up an ideal strain for one with higher THC and / or CBD levels may not experience greater relief if the terpenoid account is dramatically different.

Terpenes and the entourage effect of cannabis

The entourage effect explains how different elements of the cannabis plant interact to develop the effects of different pressures and objects. Theoretically, this “entourage” of different plant chemicals must offer effects different from a single separated substance such as CBD or THC.


Think about it this way: A client reports pain relief from a certain dose of THC, but cannot tolerate the negative effects of this dose, such as anxiety or memory problems. Reportedly, and in many cases clinical trials, various other components of the cannabis plantation – such as CBD – can reduce these side effects and also allow this dose to be tolerated.


Communication between the two main cannabinoids, THC and CBD, has been relatively well understood through years of animal and human studies. Nevertheless, CBD is unlikely to account for the wide range of effects reported for cannabis. Otherwise, what could be responsible for the restorative and protective properties attributed to individuals of different strains, such as uplifting, calming, creative or relaxing?


This is largely accepted to be the impact and effect of terpenes.

Terpenes and the Entourage Effect: Triggering It

Terpenes are the particles that give cannabis, as well as various other plants, their distinctive aromas, and they usually have an impact on the brain, at least in animal studies. Moreover, their marijuana content often differs, making them good candidates to describe why one strain might feel extremely different from another.


One should think about many of the terpene effects, which are considered untested theories and not a well-established clinical reality. In fact, their communication with THC in humans is virtually unexplored. Some terpene studies have indeed been conducted in animals, but often in extraordinarily high doses, which are not reflected in the amount normally consumed from marijuana.


There are hundreds of narratives about different effects, but we cannot convincingly use them to identify the effects of detail terpening. The complex combinations of terpenes in marijuana make it difficult to select a specific result for a particular component. Hardly anyone understood the terpene profile of the marijuana they ingested until recently.


The legalization of cannabis has actually increased the popularity of terpene screening, and currently many people have access to the terpene accounts of their cannabis. However, without solid data on the effects of different terpenes on humans, these profiles are difficult to translate.

Limonene function in the Entourage effect

A terpene of particular interest is called limonene. This terpene, popularly related to citrus scents, has several different impacts. Anecdotally, it is reported to affect the state of mind; a 2019 study on humans showed that breathing limonene reduces heart rate. This is a common scent used in calming aromatherapy.


In fact, limonene can impact a variety of systems in our brain. It can interact with numerous natural chemical systems, consisting of the adenosine, GABA and serotonin systems. These systems control many functions, including alertness, mood and also cognition.


So, although there is some strong preliminary evidence that limonene may be associated with THC, we can never really know until a professional research study is conducted. Medical research studies cost money, and the primary way to get that money is through government grants. Until recently, it seemed very unlikely that the federal government would certainly fund studies on communication between cannabinoid and terpene.

Medical Research Studies on Lemons & the Entourage Result

Times are changing, and the effects of terpene on the entourage must finally be tested.


Ryan Vandrey, Ph.D., associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Johns Hopkins University, has actually received a grant from the National Institutes of Health NIH for three professional studies on communication between cannabinoids and terpene. This seems to show that the NIH is currently much more willing to fund research related to cannabinoids.


The first professional test will investigate how limonene modulates the effects of THC.


The first study will involve 20 healthy adults who will visit the facility and be given one of the following:

  • an inactive placebo
  • limonene alone
  • THC alone
  • or the mixture of THC and limonene through an evaporator


Since in addition to sugar tablets two different doses of THC 15 and 30 mg and limonene 1 and 5 mg are also being tested, the participants will actually undertake nine different visits to the research laboratory, making this one of the most comprehensive studies of its kind to date.

Limonene ratios in Studies and Strains

This research study is extremely well done, it also raises the question of whether the THC and limonene levels are real terpene accounts of the strains on offer. Is there, for example, an existing strain that actually contains 5 mg limonene for every single 15 mg of THC? To remedy this, I used Leafly’s stress data source.


This data reveals the distribution of the limonene in various marijuana flower articles. We can see that several products have very little limonene, much less than 0.2 percent by weight. Few products have a high limonene content of over 0.8%. These articles provide about 8 to 10 mg limonene per gram of cannabis.


Next, we investigated the proportions of THC to limonene in different strains. The highest possible ratio of THC to limonene in medical research is 30: 1 30 mg THC to 1 mg limonene. Some came close to this, with Banana OG offering the highest:

  • Banana OG 30: 1.
  • Purple Hindu Kush 28: 1.
  • Mac 27: 1.
  • Whitewalker OG 27: 1.
  • Hindu Kush 19: 1.


In order to achieve these ratios, of which the lowest is 3: 1 15 mg THC to 5 mg limonene, one would certainly have to supplement with additional limonene. Indeed, this would not be so difficult, provided that limonene is present in many conventional foods! But this also provides for an interesting concern and management, should these studies prove effective: how do you manage the limonene intake when considering normal diets?


Regardless of whether you are able to replicate these exact proportions in your own marijuana regime, this research will undoubtedly add important research into how terpenes and cannabinoids work in our bodies, bringing us closer to knowing which strains are best suited to our specific needs.