Cannabis contains hundreds of phytocannabinoids, phyto means that they are plant derived whereas endocannabinoids are endogenous. Our endocannabinoids are made in our own bodies. The two most researched and talked about phytocannabinoids are Cannabidiol (CBD) and Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). These two cannabinoids are responsible for most of the desirable, therapeutic effects that come from cannabis, but not all. It is not a coincidence that our customers overwhelmingly prefer broad spectrum or full spectrum CBD products over CBD isolate.
The prescription drug, Marinol, is isolated THC that has been prescribed to cancer patients undergoing chemotherapy to combat their nausea for decades. In a study on the efficacy of Marinol for pain, it was found to be as effective as the placebo. In that same study, cancer patients found that smoking cannabis to be more effective than Marinol in controlling their chemotherapy induced nausea. Why is it that cancer patients would find smoking cannabis to be more effective than using Marinol? Because of the entourage effect. Having the whole team of cannabinoids together in their natural form is much greater than the sum of its parts. The entourage effect is also sometimes referred to as a “synergistic” effect.
What is the Entourage Effect?
In a 2011 review of previous studies, the British Journal of Pharmacology found that taking terpenes and phytocannabinoids together may be beneficial for pain, fungal infection, epilepsy, inflammation, cancer, and anxiety. The entourage effect is when all of the phytocannabinoids and terpenes work together to produce more powerful effects. Did you ever have a favorite band, and the singer did a solo record? Wasn’t the same, was it? Well, a cannabis plant is the band, and Marinol is the singer. The hundreds of phytocannabinoids and terpenes need to work together to maximize the effects of cannabis. Simply taking the one or two biggest parts out of the plant, CBD and THC, and using those alone, is not as effective. We need the whole band together for the magic to happen.
Plants have been used as sources of medicine for thousands upon thousands of years, and according to Michael Pollan in This is Your Mind On Plants, plants are much better at making medicinal compounds than human beings are. And when humans do make drugs, much of what is found in pharmacies originates from inside a plant.
On top of the powerful, natural entourage effect, terpenes found in different ratios and combinations within cannabis strains also alter the effects of each individual cannabis plant. A 2018 study found that terpenes and flavonoids may have neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory effects. The researchers believed that these compounds being present with CBD improved its effects.
However, another study found that terpenes did not modulate the functional activity of THC at the CB1 and CB2 cannabinoid receptors. These conflicting studies mean that terpenes have not been proven to change the effects of cannabis. This doesn’t mean that one is right or wrong, just that more studies are needed. It is possible that the terpenes affect THC in a different way that was not monitored and recorded in the study.
CBD to THC Ratio
THC and CBD work better together than they do in isolation. However, many people seeking the therapeutic effects of cannabis have to worry about drug tests at work. Many other people do not like the feeling that THC gives them. We have solved these problems with our THC-Free Broad Spectrum products, and extremely low THC Full Spectrum products. These products give people the option to have the benefits of cannabinoids without any undesirable effects.
In addition to those looking to avoid THC, there are those looking for a more balanced THC to CBD ratio because this ratio changes the effects that cannabis has on an individual.
A little bit of history on that: For many years, cannabis was bred to maximize THC for medicinal use. This practice resulted in the THC to CBD ratio going from 14:1 in 1995 to 80:1 in 2014. Not coincidentally, California first legalized cannabis for medicinal use in 1996. As more states passed legislation allowing for medicinal use, potency kept increasing and changed the ratio to 80:1. This is because someone using cannabis for chemotherapy induced nausea may prefer a higher THC, lower CBD ratio to get their desired effect. Alternatively, someone using cannabis to help them fall asleep may prefer a lower THC, higher CBD ratio. Everyone is different, and everyone has a different goal for using cannabis.
THC is a psychoactive compound with side effects that include anxiety, dry mouth, slowed reaction times, short term memory loss, and fatigue. Cannabis on the market today is regularly over 20% THC content, some over 30%. These strains have very low CBD content. Anecdotally, many believe that CBD counteracts the anxiety inducing effects of THC. Along with the Farm Bill allowing for nationwide hemp and CBD legalization, states with legal recreational cannabis found a market for a more balanced CBD to THC ratio. This market has opened up because of non medicinal consumers looking for a less powerful, less anxiety inducing experience.
Once again, each and every individual reacts to THC and CBD differently. When using either of these cannabinoids, or both of them, it is advised to start with a very low dose, and adjust slowly. If you are inexperienced with THC, start with 5 milligrams or less. If THC makes you feel anxious, take an equal amount of CBD along with it.
If you are unsure of how much CBD or THC to take, or in what ratio, please check out our CBD Dosing Guidelines.
The Sum of the Entourage Effect
The entourage of phytocannabinoids naturally produced by the cannabis plant are much more effective than any one cannabinoid. Together, they are greater than the sum of their parts. Cannabis is preferred over isolated THC in Marinol because it is more effective. Full and Broad spectrum hemp products are preferred over CBD isolate because they are more effective. But remember, different people receive different effects from cannabis, and people are looking for cannabis to help them with different problems. This is why our team at Nuleev provides a selection of broad spectrum and full spectrum CBD and THC products.