The hemp plant contains hundreds of different phytochemicals including cannabinoids, terpenes, and other compounds. Full spectrum CBD or hemp oil generally refers to products that not only contain CBD but contain other cannabinoids and natural terpenes. This version of CBD oil is minimally refined, leaving most of the cannabinoids and terpenes active in the oil.
The entourage effect is basically the idea that the cannabis plant contains lots of beneficial chemical compounds, but these chemicals work better if you keep them together—the way they naturally occur in the plant—rather than trying to isolate just the ones you want. While there is still more research to be done, the indications show that the many cannabinoids and terpenes within the hemp plant interact with the human body to produce a stronger influence than any one of those components could alone. When we combine multiple compounds in their natural state, we don’t end up with the sum of each part. Instead, we achieve a multiplying effect. This synergistic multiplier gives us the potential for a wider range of health benefits, and is commonly referred to as the entourage effect.
So what are some of these chemical compounds that work together to create the entourage effect? One is a group called cannabinoids. CBD is the most high-profile cannabinoid, but not the only one. Overall there are known to be at least sixty different cannabinoids in the hemp plant, with some estimating closer to one hundred. Other common cannabinoids include cannabinol (CBN), aids in appetite regulation, and cannabigerol (CBG), helps with pain relief.
Terpenes are another group of chemicals found in cannabis. These oily molecules help give the plant its aroma. For example, a terpene called limonene can create a citrus aroma. There are many different terpenes, with a wide variety of aromas like pine, floral, and mint. It is these aromas that often help distinguish different strains of hemp.
Researchers found evidence of the entourage effect recently in a study of mice. They were investigating how CBD can help with inflammatory conditions, and discovered something entirely else. When they used an extract of pure CBD (isolate) on mice, they found that it did indeed improve inflammatory conditions. However, they found that this was only the case within a very limited dosage range; treating the mice with less than that amount did not have the positive impact they were looking for. When the researchers tried treating the mice with a whole-plant CBD extract that included the numerous other chemical compounds found in the cannabis plant, they found that it was a much more effective treatment. Rather than working only at a very specific dosage, the whole plant extract helped the mice even at smaller or higher doses. In addition, a much smaller dose provided the same relief. The researchers concluded that full spectrum CBD is superior to an isolated dose of CBD only.
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