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The Entourage Effect

What is the entourage effect? Are well-known compounds like THC and CBD effective enough while isolated, or is whole-plant cannabis medicine better?

Jason SanderJason Sander · Jun. 16, 2021 · 4 min read
The Entourage Effect

As cannabis legalization continues to advance thanks to policy reform, there is a growing interest in better understanding how this amazing plant works. Perhaps the most important aspect of whole-plant cannabis medicine is described as the Entourage Effect. Here, we discuss what the entourage effect is, and how it could impact the future of legal cannabis.

Put simply, the term entourage effect is a suggestion that compounds in cannabis can work together better than ingesting isolated CBD or THC. However, this suggested notion is that phytocannabinoids are doing most of the work. More on perhaps an ensemble effect over entourage later in this article.

Those of us who can comparatively recall ingesting isolating THC will almost surely agree there is a noticeable difference. Here in this article, we are exploring the notion that terpenes and other compounds in cannabis could provide significantly more therapeutic benefits than THC or CBD alone.

Entourage Effect - More than CBD and THC

In addition to the well-researched and documented cannabinoids THC and CBD, there are over 110 cannabinoids in the cannabis plant - that we currently know about, that is. Additionally, there are nearly 200 terpenes of different kinds found in varying degrees in cannabis plants. Compounds like cannabinoids and terpenes act upon what’s called our endocannabinoid system (ECS) - which plays a big role in keeping our bodies in homeostasis and regulating several important systems in the body.

For a refresher on cannabinoids, terpenes, and the ECS, be sure to check out our articles on them.

Many cannabis consumers, especially those who have a low tolerance or are new to the plant may experience unwanted effects from THC. Studies have shown that cultivars that are higher in CBD can counteract these undesirable effects. This counteracting activity may allow the consumer to have a more pleasant and perhaps a more therapeutic experience than they otherwise would have. Notable research from 2018 suggests that specific terpenes and flavonoids could provide positive health benefits that act as anti-inflammatories or neuroprotectants.

Naturally, this depends entirely on the consumer. But the amount of anecdotes for this notion coupled with the lab tests conducted on mice offers some promising evidence that could be highly useful in the future.

Entourage Effect - It All Plays a Part

As the old Shakespeare quote goes, “All the World’s a Stage” - and everyone must play their part for harmony to exist. This is perhaps even more true when it comes to our natural world, and a crucial element for better understanding cannabis medicine and how it can help heal. However, the term the entourage effect could give the idea that THC and CBD are doing the bulk of the heavy lifting. Furthermore, it suggests that perhaps beneficially therapeutic compounds like terpenes are merely playing minor roles - if any at all.

"The term the entourage effect could give the idea that THC and CBD are doing the bulk of the heavy lifting. Furthermore, it suggests that perhaps beneficially therapeutic compounds like terpenes are merely playing minor roles - if any at all."

In a lot of instances, such as when an individual ingests THC isolate, this is true. However, there are thousands - maybe even 10’s of thousands or more - of cannabis phenotypes in existence right now. Today’s cannabis has been put through a process of countless generations of breeding. The goal behind these processes is ultimately to strengthen plant genetics, stabilize cultivar health, as well as improving flavor, and increasing potency. Many rounds of cross-breeding eventually result in various expressions of the parent female and male plants.

Different combinations of various traits in parent plants result in what’s known as phenotypes. The combination of cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, and other compounds in these phenotypes may work together more than we realize. While CBD and THC may play their part as the quarterback of the cannabis team - the myriad of other compounds could very well be acting as the offensive line, and other players - you get the analogy. Just as a great team works best together in harmony, so might whole-plant cannabis medicine.


In looking more deeply into what we currently understand about cannabis - it’s clear that a better classification system and better information are needed. This is true for the age-old Indica VS Sativa conversation as well as the proposed entourage effect. As more much-needed research is conducted, perhaps the more accurate term is ensemble effect, not entourage effect.

More Research is Necessary

We’ve said this several times now, but it bears repeating - especially if you’re a new reader to our blog. More research is necessary, as much of the content contained in this article relies on anecdotes and speculation. As we quickly approach midterm elections in 2022, we will hopefully see more policy reform - both at the state and federal levels. This will open the door for more of this research to be done.

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We hope you found value in our content about the entourage effect. Did you learn something, or have anything to add? Let us know - @hashdash on all platforms, except for Instagram, where we are @hashdashdotcom.

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Thanks for reading! Please consume responsibly.

Jason Sander
Jason SanderJason is a versatile writer and marketer with over ten combined years of experience working with clients in various industries. He couples this expertise with six years of writing for the cannabis sector as well as a passion for the business side, and the science behind the plant medicine.
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