There’s a phrase that has taken root in the cannabis industry called the “entourage effect.” Simply put, the entourage effect is used to describe the result when cannabinoids and terpenes work together to create the overall effects of cannabis.
Before we discuss the entourage effect in cannabis any longer, we should first explain what natural terpenes are and the role they play in cannabis. We’ll also look at how they contribute to giving different strains of cannabis their unique experience characteristics AND specific ones for both body and mind. We’ll then put it all together to explain how the entourage effect works when cannabinoids and terpenes work together in synergy to customize the way you experience a specific strain of cannabis.
Subtly Powerful Scents
Natural terpenes are aromatic organic hydrocarbons found in plant matter, and in cannabis they are synthesized in the trichomes of the cannabis. Increased light exposure during the maturation of the plant increases terpene development, and the highest concentrations of them are in unfertilized female cannabis flowers. Their biological role is to protect plant from bacteria, fungus, insects, and other environmental stressors.
Terpenes are also the first molecules to vaporize when heat is applied to the cannabis bud.
Cannabinoids like THC and CBD play no part in giving marijuana it’s powerful aroma. Natural terpenes are responsible for that, but what both cannabinoids and terpenes have in common is that they both have ‘landing spots’ in the human brain that they bind to as soon as cannabis enters your system.
Cannabinoids make their way to your brain’s endocannabinoid receptors, while terpenes make their way to other neurotransmitter receptors to regulate neurotransmitter activity differently. This brief understanding of their reactivity goes a long way in beginning to understand how terpenes contribute to the multi-faceted potential of cannabis.
This terpene wheel is a great infographic courtesy of our friends at MedicalJane, and it shows that all terpenes begin as being classified as sweet, spicy, bitter, or sour and then are further distinguished as being fruity, flowery, warm, sharp, vegetal, nutty, citrus, or dairy. Move out further from the center and the terpenes are further defined by their scent before you end up at the wheel’s edge with example cannabis strains featuring these terpenes.
How the Entourage Effect Works
We’re now going to move to a more in-depth view of how the entourage effect between cannabinoids and terpenes works. After this, we’ll provide a list of terpenes and effects they can have for you when pursuing more physiological responses to your cannabis.
Marijuana’s entourage effect involves terpenes supporting the effects of cannabinoids to make them more pronounced.
The entourage effect of Afghan Kush, for example, comes from the strain’s inherent qualities being paired with the qualities promoted by its terpenes. Other strains can have more extensive entourage effects. This is just one example we’ve chosen of hundreds of different entourage effects available across the nearly 800 identified cannabis strains found in the world.
The long and short about the entourage effect with cannabis is that cannabinoids produce different effects when they interact with terpenes contained in the same buds. And it’s important to understand these better outcomes can apply to recreational users the same way they do for medicinal users.
A recreational user may choose a high-THC sativa strain. Cannabis users can tailor the high they experience by selecting different strains. For example, choosing a sativa strain that has plenty of limonene will have the effects of THC along with a pleasant citrus flavour.
You should now have a very solid understanding of what the entourage effect is!
List of Cannabis Terpenes
Here’s all the terpenes that can be found in cannabis:
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