The intricacies of the cannabis plant continue to unfold as the industry moves forward. The ‘entourage effect,’ first proposed by Dr. Ethan Russo in 1998, is finally taking center stage in cannabis research. At the heart of this phenomenon lies an underappreciated hero: cannabis essential oil.
Let’s delve into the role cannabis essential oil plays in creating the entourage effect.
What exactly is “the entourage effect”?
Think about it like an orchestra. The entourage effect is the idea that cannabis isn’t a one-note plant — it’s a symphony of over 480 different compounds. In this grand symphony, cannabinoids and terpenes play the most familiar tunes. Other compounds like ketones, aldehydes, and esters join the ensemble, contributing to the concert of effects we associate with specific cannabis varieties. A solo flute — say, a cannabinoid like THC or CBD — sounds beautiful on its own. But the full orchestra — the THC, terpenes, and all the rest — now that’s an experience.
Simply put, cannabis compounds produce a greater effect when working together than they would individually. Consuming the whole plant (full-spectrum cannabis), with its range of compounds intact, provides a different and more extensive therapeutic profile compared to consuming isolated compounds like THC or CBD alone. The compounds synergistically interact within the body and promote variety-specific effects like relaxation, creativity, focus, energy and inspiration.
Look at Blue Dream as an example. The THC provides the psychoactive ‘high’, but it’s modified by the presence of CBD and the various terpenes. The calming effect of myrcene balances out the potentially anxiety-inducing effects of the THC. The potential memory-enhancing effects of pinene might further offset the effect of THC. It’s the combination of compounds in Blue Dream — THC, CBD, myrcene, pinene, caryophyllene, and many others — that work together to create the unique effects of the variety.
Not everyone’s convinced, but we’re getting there
Not everyone is convinced of the entourage effect. That’s why a group of scientists decided to investigate the effects of terpenes on their own, as well as in combination with a cannabinoid. What they found was pretty fascinating. Four terpenes — α-humulene, geraniol, linalool, and β-pinene — acted like cannabinoids in an experiment with mice, producing similar effects. And when they combined the terpenes with the cannabinoid, the effects were even stronger.
This study could lead to the development of new and improved cannabis-based treatments that use specific mixtures of terpenes and cannabinoids to maximize their benefits. It was a key breakthrough in cannabis terpene research.
Cannabis essential oil: the leading conductor of the entourage effect
The north star of any cannabis manufacturer is to recreate the exact same components of the cannabis plant in other products (e.g., vape carts). This achieves the ‘complete cannabis’ experience.
How is this done? The answer is marrying cannabis essential oil with cannabinoids.
Cannabis essential oil is the conductor of the orchestra, allowing every variety of cannabis to have its unique signature and elicit unique effects on the user. It boasts a host of constituents, but terpenes steal the limelight as the most prevalent class of compounds within it.
The challenge has always been how to capture the orchestra and not just the soloist. Until now, these ‘complete cannabis’ experiences were the preserve of craft growers and small-batch producers.
Terpene Belt Farms changed that narrative, bringing cannabis essential oil experience to scale globally.