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What Is an Entourage Effect and How Does It Work?

  • According to the theory, an entourage effect occurs when you use a broad-spectrum cannabis product (featuring multiple cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, and other compounds) rather than pure isolates or products high in only one cannabis compound, like THC or CBD.
  • Many believe that this will more effectively activate your endocannabinoid system, promoting stronger relaxation and pain relief. Full-spectrum and broad-spectrum CBD products are said to produce the best entourage effects.

As all medical marijuana users already know, cannabis is not only used for its psychoactive effects but also for its safe and effective pain relief properties and other health benefits.

In fact, many people will opt for CBD isolate products (formulas containing CBD only) that soothe and relax without getting you high (like THC products do). But is there a way to experience the power of the entire cannabis plant for maximum health benefits?

According to the entourage effect—yes, there is.

This theory suggests that combining cannabis compounds known as cannabinoids (such as THC and CBD), cannabis terpenes, and flavonoids will enhance their healing properties and create a more effective therapeutic experience.

But how supported is this theory, really? Learn more about the superpowered healing potential of the entourage effect and how you can experience it for yourself.

Understanding the Full Spectrum of the Cannabis Plant

Often, when people think of cannabis, they only think of its two main elements:

  • Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) – The main psychoactive and pain-relieving compound found in the cannabis plant
  • Cannabidiol (CBD) – Another widely studied cannabinoid compound known to reduce pain, anxiety, and inflammation without producing any psychoactive effects

But this doesn’t come close to covering everything that the cannabis plant has to offer.

In reality, the cannabis plant is made up of over:

  • 120 cannabinoid compounds
  • 140 terpenes
  • 20 flavonoids

Each compound has varying effects which can be used to target many different symptoms—and when combined, their effects may become even stronger. This is the basis of the entourage effect theory.

To fully understand the magic of the entourage effect, it’s necessary to take a closer look at the specific ingredients.


More specifically known as phytocannabinoids, these are some of the most well-known cannabis compounds. You already know about THC and CBD, but there are many other cannabinoids that have been studied for their unique properties and health benefits.

Here are just a few of them:

  • Cannabinol (CBN) is a converted form of THC created when THC ages or is exposed to heat; it produces more mild psychoactive effects than THC and can help with sleep, tension, and joint issues.
  • Cannabichromene (CBC) is a non-psychoactive compound that can promote better memory and mood, as well as improve aches and pains. It can also modulate the effects of THC.
  • Cannabigerol (CBG) is commonly found in premature cannabis plants before it converts to THC and CBD. It has minimal to nonexistent psychoactive effects, and it can be used for pain relief, appetite regulation, and mood boosts.

To produce their effects, cannabinoids both directly and indirectly interact with your body’s regulatory system, known as the endocannabinoid system (ECS). More on this later.


There are over 20,000 known terpenes in the world found in plants, from lemons to eucalyptus. The cannabis plant is particularly special because it has so many of them.

These compounds give the cannabis plant specific tastes and smells. More importantly, they have certain health benefits when combined with cannabinoids, including improved mood or alertness, and they can contribute to more effective pain relief.

Some research has found that terpenes actually behave very similarly to cannabinoids like THC—without the psychoactive elements.


Flavonoids are naturally found in a wide variety of plants, including the Cannabis sativa plant.

While flavonoids give the cannabis plant its color, their antioxidative effects make these compounds truly stand out. Flavonoids have many valuable, potential therapeutic properties, and current research is focusing on how cannabis flavonoids could be used as:

  • Anti-inflammatory treatments
  • Anticancer compounds
  • Antiviral agents
  • Antiparasitic drugs

While research on flavonoids is still ongoing, their potential applications in medicine are exciting and promising.

The Entourage Effect Theory, Explained

Now that you know about the entourage effect’s main ingredients, where does the magic happen? The answer: in your endocannabinoid system.

The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is responsible for maintaining your body’s homeostasis, or internal balance. This encompasses many different internal processes, including but not limited to:

  • Metabolism
  • Appetite
  • Immune system responses
  • Sleep
  • Circulatory functions
  • Stress and mood management
  • Learning and memory development

Your body makes endocannabinoids that regulate the ECS by attaching to receptors in the brain. The cannabinoids found in cannabis mimic the properties of your natural endocannabinoids and are therefore able to attach to these receptors as well.

The two types of receptors that manage the ECS are:

  • CB1 receptors – When activated, they can promote positive mood, create euphoric feelings, and relieve pain; they’re typically found in the central nervous system.
  • CB2 receptors – These can detect and regulate inflammation and immune responses; they’re typically found in the peripheral nervous system.

Cannabinoids interact with these receptors in different ways. For example, THC and CBG can attach to both receptors, while CBD only comes into contact indirectly.

Some cannabinoids don’t interact with the receptors at all; instead, they can block or enhance the effects of other cannabinoids. For example, CBC is known to block the effects of THC, while CBGV can boost these effects by helping THC bind more effectively to receptors.

According to the entourage theory, If you use high-THC or CBD-isolate products, your ECS will only be activated in one way. But if you combine multiple cannabis compounds, you’ll increase and amplify these compounds’ interactions with your ECS. And that’s good news for people looking to leverage cannabis for its medical benefits.

Health Benefits of the Entourage Effect

While there is much more research to be done on this theory, it’s believed that the entourage effect can significantly enhance the already positive health benefits of cannabis.

The entourage effect can help to:

  • More effectively relieve pain
  • Block or limit the psychoactive properties of THC
  • Minimize potential side effects of THC including hunger and anxiety
  • Cause the same effects at lower dosages

As researchers discover more about the benefits of the entourage effect, the more promising it seems as a considerably effective therapeutic consideration.

How to Experience the Entourage Effect

The entourage effect sounds great in theory, but how can you experience it for yourself?

Most believe that the entourage effect happens when you combine THC and CBD for a “best of both worlds” scenario. For instance, you could reap the pain-relieving benefits of THC and CBD.

But if you’re looking to avoid intoxicants, you can still harness the power of the entourage effect. Instead of using CBD-isolate products, which only contain CBD, look for:

  • Full-spectrum CBD – These products contain most cannabis compounds, including a variety of cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, and fatty acids. They also contain THC, so look for products that have lower than 0.3% THC content if you don’t want a high.
  • Broad-spectrum CBD – These products are similar to full-spectrum CBD, with the same wide range of cannabinoids and other compounds. However, they don’t contain THC. This is favorable for those who want a more effective CBD product, but don’t want a high.

Full-spectrum and broad-spectrum CBD comes in a variety of products, including:

  • Whole plant
  • Edibles
  • Topicals
  • Oils and tinctures

If you’re unsure of which products will work best for your specific condition, check with a medical marijuana doctor or pharmacist for recommendations.

Get a Medical Marijuana Recommendation Today, with TeleLeaf

Whether or not the entourage effect theory holds true for all cannabis users, medical marijuana remains a viable, unignorable treatment option for a wide variety of health concerns. People with conditions from chronic pain to insomnia are finding real relief with medical cannabis.

Don’t know how to get a medical marijuana card in your state? The first step is to get a recommendation from a licensed doctor. TeleLeaf makes this process a breeze: we connect patients with qualified, compassionate providers who can offer same-day virtual appointments and approvals.

The road to symptom relief doesn’t have to be a long one. Learn more about TeleLeaf’s fast and accessible services, and make an appointment today.


Forbes. CBD for Pain Relief: How to Use CBD to Manage Pain.

Zebra CBD. The Different Types of Cannabinoids Explained.

Holistik Wellness. The Entourage Effect: Everything You Need to Know.

Open Access Government. What is the ‘entourage effect’ of cannabis and how can it relieve pain?

ACS Omega. Flavonoids in Cannabis sativa: Biosynthesis, Bioactivities, and Biotechnology.

Healthline. A Simple Guide to the Endocannabinoid System.

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