Cannabis and the Entourage Effect
Even though CBD – cannabidiol – seems to have captured the imagination of people everywhere, there is still a lot of research around this, and other, compounds from hemp.
There’s no doubt that CBD has been the heavy lifter in published studies and anecdotal evidence relating to anxiety, epilepsy, and pain relief. How all of this works is somewhat elusive, but it stems from the way that CBD and other cannabinoids from hemp interact with our own endocannabinoid system.
The endocannabinoid system is a set of receptors and signaling compounds in the body. The receptors receive signals and our own fat-soluble, naturally-occurring compounds that carry them.
Cannabinoid receptors, frequently abbreviated as CB1 and CB2, are involved with perception of pain, neurological factors, and other physical health concerns, too. The compounds from hemp may interact with these receptors, found on the surfaces of cells, and they prevent the degradation of our own endocannabinoids.
Both CB1 and CB2 are expressed in the hippocampus, a part of the brain associated with memory and emotion and is part of the limbic system. But each also has its own areas of expertise, too. Broadly speaking, CB1 is involved with neurological responses – seizure, fear, and memory – while CB2 is more aligned with the immune system, peripheral structures of the body, and digestion. In an extremely simplified way, you could think of the CB1 receptor as the “mind receptor” and CB2 as the “body receptor.”
Overall, this whole system is involved with a lot: feelings of pain and stress, but also immune health and even bone density. Two of the most studied of our body’s own endocannabinoids are anandamide (AEA) and 2-arachidonoylglycerol (2-AG).
Cannabinoids, including CBD from hemp and others, appear to help preserve our own natural endocannabinoid compounds, including anandamide and 2-AG. These endocannabinoids interact with receptors in the brain and body (like CB1 and CB2) that determine how we experience pain, nervousness, and a whole host of other responses.
This review states that, powerful as it is, there is more to hemp than CBD. It cautions that researchers and regular partakers of hemp don’t rush to oversimplify the tremendous benefits of this plant. Certainly, there will be more work in the coming years that examines the overall effect – the “entourage effect” of having a full spectrum of hemp cannabinoids on board for any supplementation or natural medicine treatment protocol.
Russo EB. The Case for the Entourage Effect and Conventional Breeding of Clinical Cannabis: No "Strain," No Gain. Front Plant Sci. 2019;9:1969. Published 2019 Jan 9. doi:10.3389/fpls.2018.01969
The topic of Cannabis curries controversy in every sphere of influence, whether politics, pharmacology, applied therapeutics or even botanical taxonomy. Debate as to the speciation of Cannabis, or a lack thereof, has swirled for more than 250 years. Because all Cannabis types are eminently capable of cross-breeding to produce fertile progeny, it is unlikely that any clear winner will emerge between the "lumpers" vs. "splitters" in this taxonomical debate. This is compounded by the profusion of Cannabis varieties available through the black market and even the developing legal market. While labeled "strains" in common parlance, this term is acceptable with respect to bacteriaand viruses, but not among Plantae. Given that such factors as plant height and leaflet width do not distinguish one Cannabis plant from another and similar difficulties in defining terms in Cannabis, the only reasonable solution is to characterize them by their biochemical/pharmacological characteristics. Thus, it is best to refer to Cannabis types as chemical varieties, or "chemovars." The current wave of excitement in Cannabis commerce has translated into a flurry of research on alternative sources, particularly yeasts, and complex systems for laboratory production have emerged, but these presuppose that single compounds are a desirable goal. Rather, the case for Cannabis synergy via the "entourage effect" is currently sufficiently strong as to suggest that one molecule is unlikely to match the therapeutic and even industrial potential of Cannabis itself as a phytochemical factory. The astounding plasticity of the Cannabis genome additionally obviates the need for genetic modification techniques.