The term “entourage effect” has been bandied about in medical marijuana circles in recent years, referring to the interaction of all the many compounds in cannabis.
Many people use cannabis for its medical benefits, but they don’t want any mood alteration, so they get CBD. And many users who want to get stoned seek the greatest potency, so they often look for very high THC content.
But neither group may be getting exactly what they’re after, according to people in the industry.
“You need a little THC to get the full benefit of CBD,” says Obie Strickler, CEO of Grown Rogue in Medford. “You have to look at the broader effect of other components. Of course, you can get too stoned. Some consumers still believe in potency. What’s important is to look at the cumulative effect of other components of cannabis, the terpenes, the CBD, to create the experience you feel.”
Strickler’s company produces a strain called Tangie that sports a roughly 2:1 ration of CBD to THC — a THC content of about 6.5 percent and a CBD content of about 14 percent. It has enough THC to get a buzz, while delivering a potentially therapeutic dose of CBD.
“There’s an effect on your body when you take in the full spectrum of cannabis products,” says Matthew Behr of Grateful Meds in Talent. “They’re all in the plant, and when you inhale, you get all the beneficial chemicals in one setting.”
It’s been shown with epilepsy that CBD alone can have a good effect, he notes. Cannabinoids and terpenes reportedly bind to receptors in the body, and they have a synergistic effect with each other.
“However, CBD seems to work better in therapeutic sessions when combined with a small amount of THC,” Behr adds. “Some want the benefit of cannabis but don’t want to get high. So they can take THC in sub-psychoactive doses.”
“CBD is the ‘it’ chemical and everyone wants it,” Behr adds, but that doesn’t mean you should target this one molecule and forget about the rest.
For instance, the CBD from full-spectrum cannabis is superior to hemp-derived CBD, he says, as it has more molecules and more therapeutic effects, and that’s part of the entourage effect.
“Most people don’t want to feel high but want their pain taken away. That means not above two milligrams (of THC). Above that, you feel psychotropic effects.”
The most efficient and direct way to preserve the entourage effect, he says, is to toke, vape or take it sublingually. The least efficient is to wait for it to digest, which can take an hour or more.
“If you’re in anxiety and panic attack, you don’t want to wait an hour. Vaping and smoking are immediate. Sublingual is 15 minutes. But remember, everyone is different and maybe cannabis isn’t going to work for them.”
In other words, the road to cannabis bliss might best be found in “whole plant medicine,” which means not messing with the bud — just roll up a jay and toke it, allowing all 400 molecules identified in weed to do their magic.
The website Project CBD defines it this way: “Many of these compounds interact synergistically ... so that the medicinal impact of the whole plant is greater than the sum of its parts.”
John Darling is an Ashland freelance writer. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.