The “entourage effect” is the synergistic interaction of the numerous compounds found within cannabis plants to maximize the plant’s therapeutic benefits. Through this interaction, the medicinal impact of the entire plant is higher than the sum of its parts. Understanding the entourage effect provides cannabis cultivators the advantage of breeding different strains of cannabis to produce different effects.

Whole hemp plant extractions usually consist of high levels of CBD, a small level of THC, and trace amounts of around 400 other compounds. Since there are a wide variety of interactions that can take place due to these exorbitant amounts of compounds, the entourage effect is essential to consider when conducting hemp research on animal studies. Although most animal studies with CBD are conducted using synthetic molecules, studying organic interactions give researchers more precise results.

What role do terpenes play?

Terpenes are some of those additional compounds that can be found in cannabis plants. In fact, they are found in almost every plant species. Terpenes play a couple of different roles in supporting the health benefits of cannabinoids. First, some terpene molecules are known to be aromatic and produce a range of odors once they evaporate. Through this phenomenon, aromatherapy is possible. Terpenes found in various plants species are used to soothe the senses and restore balance within the body. These little molecules are also the reason why marijuana and hemp oil have such distinct smells.

Aside from producing restorative aromas, terpenes also contribute to the overall effects of cannabinoids found in cannabis plants by activated the cannabinoid (CB 1 and CB 2) receptors in the body. For example, beta-caryophyllene, which is located in many leafy greens and cannabis plants binds directly to CB 2 receptors, which is commonly found in the immune system. Once this particular terpene binds to a CB 2 receptor, it promotes functionality within the immune system by enhancing communication amongst receptors. This helps alleviate inflammatory conditions and auto-immune disorders.

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Through their interactions, terpenes and cannabinoids work together to increase blood flow, enhance the brain’s cortical activity and kills pathogens found in the respiratory system. Cortical activity refers to the brain’s ability to function intellectually and includes sensory perception, use of language and critical thought. The synergistic function of terpenes and cannabinoids have also been found to aid in chronic pain, depression, anxiety, addiction, and epilepsy.

What does this all mean?

Essentially, terpenes are one of the compounds found in cannabis plants that react with cannabinoids (CBDs) through the entourage effect. Their reaction boosts the physiological and psychological benefits of cannabis plants, like hemp, bind creating a complex network of highly effective communication between the brain and the body.

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