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What Is The Entourage Effect and Why Should You Care?

When it comes to cannabis, most people know that there are plenty of different strains with a variety of effects. Some strains may be more relaxing or sedative, while others might be uplifting, energetic, or even stimulating. But many people do not realise that the compounds in these different strains can affect users differently depending on the conditions and the presence of other compounds. This phenomenon is called the entourage effect. It plays a vital role in how cannabinoids like THC and CBD interact with our body and brain. 

Let us dive in! 

Every bottle of our award-winning and delicious Myrcene Hemp Gin inevitably results in an entourage of friends and family asking for a nip; in this article, we’re talking about something very different altogether. The Entourage Effect refers to how cannabinoids (natural elements from the cannabis plant, including THC, CBD, CBG and over 400 others) interact with terpenes (the essential oils contained in all plants) and other plant-based molecules. They work together to create a synergistic effect that neither achieves alone. 

To understand the entourage effect, one must first understand the concept of synergy. Synergy refers to how two or more substances work together in order to produce a more significant overall result than each individual compound could do by itself. For example, take two drugs that are very effective in treating depression. They will likely work better together than they would individually. The entourage effect takes this idea one step further by suggesting that multiple compounds can interact with each other to produce even more powerful results. Even though each compound has its specific role to play, they all work together in some way. This can lead to even better results for both humans and animals. 

In other words, when you ingest cannabis together with terpenes, for example, you get a uniquely positive effect. It’s a bit like gin & tonic…when you have them alone, they’re one thing, but together – magic!


The Mango Myth

A pervasive myth came out of West Coast rap going back to the 1980s, and legend has it that both Dre and Eazy E were big proponents of the concept. It goes like this: eating mangos before smoking increases the intensity and duration of weed’s effect. This was routinely dismissed as nonsense until recent times. Due to cannabis prohibition, almost nobody from the scientific community was studying the cannabis plant and its effects. From the 1980s onwards, considerable research into cannabis started taking place. When scientists took a closer look, the link between cannabis and Myrcene was discovered. It was found likewise found that both mangos and cannabis contain large quantities of the same terpene: Myrcene. (click the word to read our in depth article on Myrcene)


The Science

Well, what was previously a myth is now a bonafide scientific fact… Sort of. We now have a wild understanding of the body and organs, specific receptors, and the ECS (endocannabinoid system). Essentially, your brain and body tell each other a story via nerves. Studies found that the use of CBD with terpenes “broadens clinical applications” in the medical world. That’s a funny way of saying the entourage effect is piquing the interest of the medical world.

They found it could be beneficial for:


The Science of the Entourage Effect

…And that’s just the beginning. There is also some evidence that cannabinoids may decrease alcohol consumption by increasing satiety and inhibiting reward-related neural activity. The Entourage Effect also applies to non-cannabis substances like vitamins, minerals, fatty acids, amino acids and herbs that are often taken in combination with cannabis to promote health benefits.

We know terpenes have unique effects on the body through receptors in the gut. A terpene like Myrcene generally delivers sedative, relaxing effects. Piney terpenes can improve your alertness and memory, while lemony aromas should uplift your mood. No, these are not psychoactive chemicals; they’re found in things like lavender, black pepper and lemons! Does this sound familiar? It should. CBD use generally eases chronic pain and inflammation (Duh.) but interestingly, of the hundreds of strains, each is unique because of the terpenes present in the weed flower. So there are terpenes in black pepper… but also already in the weed plant. Different strains affect you in other ways… Sativa? Indica? Look closer at the terpenes present instead.

So when CBD is being ingested, it works on the same neurotransmitters to reduce the pain that the terpenes are - even before you demolish 3 mangoes. Is it such a stretch that additional terpenes synergise and exaggerate the symptoms of getting high? Hmm.


Soak It Up

When the terpene myrcene is present in your bloodstream, and you ingest cannabis, it acts as an express receptor. You receive the cannabinoids from the cannabis faster, and it works longer. 

This is the reason why we began experimenting with Myrcene in the research and development of our gin. Myrcene is known to ease symptoms of chronic pain and inflammation while also encouraging analgesic responses when combined with THC. A research paper titled Taming THC: Potential Cannabis Synergy and Phytocannabinoid-terpenoid Entourage Effects was published by the British Journal of Pharmacology in August 2011. It systematically observed a number of positive clinical outcomes due to the interaction of Myrcene and certain cannabinoids, referred to as “phytocannabinoid-terpenoid synergy” by lead researcher, the physician and neurologist Dr Ethan Russo. Amongst other insights, Dr Russo demonstrated that: 

  • When Myrcene was ingested alongside THC, it reduced pain, acted as a muscle relaxant and exhibited sedative properties.
  • When Myrcene was ingested alongside CBD, it reduced pain and inflammation, with potential applications for cancer treatment.
  • When Myrcene was ingested alongside CBG, it potentially relieved other effects of cancer.

    Mango Entourage Effect

    We are firm believers in the old adage that “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts”, and science confirms this as fact – whole plant therapies are universally recognised as being more effective than isolates. The Entourage Effect describes the synergistic effects that cannabis has when consumed together with other plant compounds. When taken with other compounds, the endocannabinoid system can work synergistically, for example, by binding to cannabinoid receptors in the brain more effectively than it does on its own. 

    Taking a holistic approach to cannabis is at the core of our vision. So we pursued this ideal when developing our gin in order to magnify the benefits of hemp as an anti-inflammatory and anti-oxidant. But to be honest, we didn’t genuinely expect it to actually magnify the other effects…

    Message In A Bottle

    Just after launching The Myrcene for Christmas 2018, we received the following email from Bob (name changed to protect the crew):

    “Hi guys, I just wanted to write to you because my friends all tell me I’m mental. I don’t know if this is a placebo effect or what, but it seems that when I drink your gin either before or after smoking weed, I get about 30% more stoned!? Do I imagine this? I know you do the whole scientific thing, so what’s the go?”

    Well, Bob, it appears you’re experiencing The Entourage Effect. We were intrigued, so we asked a friend-of-a-friend to give it a go. Although she didn’t put a “30% more stoned” number on it like Bob did, she said that after drinking 50ml of our gin, the effects from one bowl of Malawi pure Sativa (which she is very familiar with) were far more potent and made her feel “almost trippy”. While this is purely anecdotal, we’re currently looking into the feasibility of a clinical trial to test this.

    The entourage effect is a crucial cannabinoid-terpenoid interaction that has been demonstrated to impact the pharmacological effects of THC. Essentially, when you consume numerous cannabinoids (and other therapeutically active compounds) in conjunction with one another, the overall effect is greater than the sum of the individual parts. Theoretically, the entourage effect can be harnessed to treat illnesses faster and more effectively than possible with just any of these compounds alone. 

    Our Terpene Essentials Range has you covered with different combinations of terpenes to suit different ailments. 

    In the meantime, if you choose to consume THC (the psychoactive component of the cannabis plant and the substance that makes you feel “high” or “stoned”) at the same time as drinking The Myrcene Hemp Gin, please be careful.

    Peace out, Myrcenaries!