Industry insiders swear that marijuana’s various compounds act in tandem, while most researchers hear a THC solo only…! Today we are expanding beyond and we will learn about the Marijuana Entourage Effect!
According to budtender wisdom, Bubba Kush should leave you famished and comfortable, whereas dank Hippie Chicken should boost you like a dreamy cup of coffee. However, taking pure, isolated delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC—the major psychoactive element in marijuana—will result in “a high that has no unique character, so that appears uninteresting,” according to Mowgli Holmes, a geneticist and founder of the cannabis genetics company Phylos Bioscience.
The hundreds of additional compounds found in cannabis, according to Holmes, are what give it “character.” THC’s cousin cannabinoids, such as cannabidiol, are among them, as are other chemicals known as terpenes and flavonoids. While terpenes are generally credited with giving marijuana its various fragrances—limonene, for example, imparts a snappy, citrusy perfume—the cannabis industry and some researchers have advocated the contentious notion that such compounds can enhance or alter THC’s psychoactive and medicinal properties.
This so-called “marijuana entourage effect” refers to a slew of substances allegedly working together to produce what Chris Emerson refers to as “the sum of all the elements that leads to the enchantment or power of cannabis.” Emerson is a professional scientist and the co-founder of Level Blends, a designer marijuana vape products firm. He and other product designers believe they can construct THC vape combinations with varying quantities of each terpene and cannabinoid for specific effects.
There is little conventional science on this subject. However, cannabis breeders have traditionally crossed plants to create distinct strains that reportedly accomplish different things, and breeders are now utilizing genetics to make that process more accurate and efficient. “We have a massive set of cannabis genomic data that, hopefully, will allow us to identify genetic markers connected with chemical results and specific patient outcomes,” Holmes adds. “We’ve only just begun.” Holmes thinks that breeders will ultimately be able to create cannabis plants or products that are tailored to the needs of each individual patient or recreational user.
However, many scientists believe the whole thing is a pipe dream. The notion that botanical marijuana produces a synergistic chemical effect, imprinting the experience with “uplifting,” “relaxing,” or “munchy” overtones, is very debatable. “The lay public has really embraced the notion of the entourage effect,” says Margaret Haney, a neurobiologist at Columbia University and cannabis researcher. “The cannabis industry has the power to say whatever it wants. “I have nothing against marijuana. I intend to thoroughly research it. We know it can impact pain and appetite, but the vast majority of what is said is based on anecdotal evidence. These guys are desperate for money.”
Proponents of the marijuana entourage effect make the following claims to support their theory: Non-THC cannabinoids, for example, have some neurochemical effect because they can influence cannabinoid receptors in the central nervous system in various ways. Cannabidiol, or CBD, is the most usually mentioned example. A lot of scientists believe CBD alleviates THC’s well-known stoning and paranoia-inducing effects by inhibiting some cannabinoid receptors. “CBD has the most influence [on the entourage effect],” says psychopharmacologist Ethan Russo, a cannabis researcher in Washington State and the medical director of the biochemical research company Phytecs. According to him, roughly 10 milligrams of THC can potentially produce toxic psychosis—or THC-induced, psychotic-like symptoms such as delusions—in about 40% of persons. Sativex, a multiple sclerosis medicine not approved in the United States that GW Pharmaceuticals (where Russo worked for many years) began selling in the United Kingdom in 2010, “includes equal levels of THC and CBD,” he says. “Only four of the 250 individuals who took 48 mg of THC developed severe toxic psychosis. When it comes to synergy, “this is a really essential proof,” the narrator explains. additional cannabinoids that have not yet been researched may have similar synergistic effects.
Marinol, which is synthetically generated THC mixed in sesame seed oil, has been available via prescription in the United States since the 1980s. According to Russo, people frequently abandon Marinol because to undesirable side effects, which he believes are caused in part by the absence of marijuana’s other cannabinoids. “Their ability to perform is hindered by it.” Syndros, an oral THC formula containing synthetically produced THC mixed in alcohol, was approved by the FDA in 2016. Many marijuana supporters were surprised last month when the US Drug Enforcement Administration placed Syndros on Schedule II of the Controlled Substances Act, making it federally legal to prescribe. Despite the fact that the active element is the same THC molecule, the plant and most other forms of marijuana are still classified as Schedule I substances, along with heroin, LSD, and other drugs that the DEA believes have no accepted medicinal value and a high potential for abuse. “THC is a bad substance on its own. “The therapeutic index of this drug is extremely low, according to Dr. Russo. Syndros, I can assure you, will not be exciting or popular.”
When Russo released a paper in the British Journal of Pharmacology analyzing the potential interactions between THC and different cannabinoids and terpenes in 2011, the entourage effect gained some traction. He cites research that suggests alpha pinene—a terpene that gives certain marijuana a fresh pine scent—might help retain acetylcholine, a chemical important in memory formation. “One of the most common negative effects of THC is short-term memory impairment,” he explains. “People are like, ‘Uh…what were you saying?'” That can be avoided if the cannabis contains pinene.”
Nonetheless, there is no hard evidence that the entourage effect exists. The gold standard for medical research studies, double-blind clinical trials, have never been done to explore the effects of marijuana’s terpenes or cannabinoids other than THC. “The majority of what you’re dealing with with marijuana is anecdotal evidence,” Phylos’ Holmes adds. “However, the truth is that there is relatively little data.”
And, as is often the case with cannabis, lore is law, according to Holmes. The entourage effect concept has gained traction in the cannabis industry and among consumers. Marijuana dispensaries have begun to display and advertise varying cannabinoid ratios as well as comprehensive terpene profiles in specific strains and products. These chemicals are tested for at laboratories that specialize in testing marijuana. Companies like NaPro Research and Phylos have begun to figure out how to cultivate cannabis varieties with precise quantities of popular terpenes, like as limonene and pinene, as well as myrcene, which some feel amplifies THC’s effects, for a tailored experience.
Holmes says he dislikes the fact that anecdotes are the best evidence for entourage effect advocates, but he believes they still communicate an important part of the tale. “What irritates me the most is that we can’t do really fundamental investigations regarding what’s truly true,” he says. “However, you have tens of thousands of people reporting the same thing.” It becomes difficult to ignore.” Because marijuana is classified as a Schedule I drug, many scientists are unable to obtain study licenses.
And stories are insufficient for Haney and many others who agree with her. It’s common for people to have preconceptions that terpenes work for them, says Dr. Barth Wilsey of UCSD. “The internet is fantastic, but it has a lot of phony news, and what people are saying is astounding.” “They have to undertake randomized clinical trials, where random people get real terpene and the false terpene,” Wilsey explains, in order to determine how effective these molecules are.
According to Haney, she has only seen evidence that contradicts the marijuana entourage effect. Recent research (including Haney’s own) directly comparing the effects of plant marijuana with oral THC preparations such as Marinol and Syndros found little—if any—difference. Because of the lore that said, “Marinol is no good, thus we need to legalize cannabis,” I wanted to find out if Marinol was worse than pot,” she says. “So we conducted the research, and it’s not a bad medicine.” It relieves discomfort. It stimulates the appetite. Marinol is quite effective.”
Haney believes that cannabidiol is also overhyped. “There are interesting findings on possible medical usage,” she says, “but the research showing it dampens the marijuana high is just not persuasive when you look at the original sources.” “However, this idea has swept the field.” To her, drugs like Sativex—the half-CBD/half-THC formulation—don’t seem all that different from THC alone.
Russo concedes that the scientific literature is insufficient, but he remains convinced of the entourage effect .”In order to prove the concept, do we need more research?” “The answer is yes,” he declares. “I believe in this since I’ve known the distinctions between cannabis for 40 years.” They have distinct aromas. They have distinct flavors. They have distinct consequences.”
Many others in the cannabis sector agree with him. “When we launched [Level Blends], we did a lot of focus groups and data collection and analysis, and 80 or 85 percent of folks fall right into the impact we predict they will get,” Emerson adds. “We’re not sure how all of this is functioning together.” But I put everything on the line for this because I believe in it so deeply.”
According to Haney, marijuana may have an entourage effect, but it is impossible to know without more facts. Because I can’t work with cannabis on the streets or in dispensaries, I can’t make a direct comparison. She notices how powerful the placebo effect is. unable to work with marijuana on the street or in dispensaries.” She observes that the placebo effect is really potent. And if you believe that smoking marijuana will offer you a brilliant, cerebral experience brimming with creativity, or that taking a THC pill would make you anxious and paranoid, you will most likely feel that way.