The Entourage Effect: What Is It?


The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a complex cell-signaling system identified in the early 1990s by researchers exploring THC, a well-known cannabinoid. Cannabinoids are compounds found in cannabis.

Experts are still trying to fully understand the ECS. But so far, we know it plays role in regulating a range of functions and processes, including:

  • sleep

  • mood

  • appetite

  • memory

  • reproduction and fertility

The ECS exists and is active in your body even if you don’t use cannabis.



What is the Entourage Effect?

Cannabis plants contain more than 120 different phytocannabinoids. These phytocannabinoids act on your endocannabinoid system, which works to keep your body in homeostasis, or balance.


Cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are two of the more well-researched and popular phytocannabinoids. People take CBD and THC in a variety of ways, and they can be consumed separately or together.


However, some research suggests that taking them together — along with smaller organic compounds in the cannabis plant, known as terpenes or terpenoids — is more effective than taking CBD or THC alone.

This is due to an interaction between phytocannabinoids and terpenes called “the entourage effect.”

The entourage effect describes a phenomenon in which all of the compounds in cannabis, including cannabinoids and terpenes, act in synergy to produce a specific psychoactive or therapeutic effect. It’s why different strains have different effects—because each strain produces a slightly different combination of compounds.


The entourage effect was first described by European researchers in a 1998 paper. However, the term was popularized by Dr. Ethan Russo—a neurology physician who has spent his career conducting medical research with cannabis—and his 2011 paper, “Taming THC.”


Is the Entourage Effect Real?

One study showed that cannabis extract—a concentrated blend of all the cannabinoids and terpenes that a particular strain has to offer—is superior to isolated THC as a preclinical breast cancer treatment. There is also a convincing amount of data suggesting that terpenes found in cannabis can modulate the effect of certain cannabinoids.


Cannabis plants contain more than 120 different phytocannabinoids. These phytocannabinoids act on your endocannabinoid system, which works to keep your body in homeostasis, or balance. Cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) are two of the more well-researched and popular phytocannabinoids. People take CBD and THC in a variety of ways, and they can be consumed separately or together.


However, some research suggests that taking them together — along with smaller organic compounds in the cannabis plant, known as terpenes or terpenoids — is more effective than taking CBD or THC alone.

This is due to an interaction between phytocannabinoids and terpenes called “the entourage effect.”


While it may be that THC and CBD work better together than alone, it’s important to remember that cannabis affects everyone differently — and everyone’s goals for cannabis use are different.


Some basic guidelines for trying CBD and THC:

  • Start with a low dose and increase as needed.

  • Experiment with timing to see what works best for you.

  • Try different delivery methods

As cannabis research continues to expand, plant compounds beyond THC and CBD are being utilized for health. In future articles I will be discussing some of these compounds, such as CBG, Delta 8-THC and CBN.


If you are considering trying cannabis for health, I can offer guidance to get you started with a cannabis health consultation. More info here: https://www.potentialforhealing.com/services