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Cannabis plants contain over 400 chemical components, many of which work together to produce synergistic effects, known as “the entourage effect.”

Cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, and other compounds work together to maximize health benefits and minimize adverse effects.

What Is the Entourage Effect?

Clinical research suggests that the interaction between cannabinoids, terpenes, and other chemical compounds in the cannabis plant can produce a more beneficial effect than taking one compound alone.

Many consumers are now focusing less on high THC content and more on a full spectrum of minor cannabinoids, terpenes, and other medicinal compounds.

Cannabis Compounds – Cannabinoids, Terpenes, and Flavonoids

Cannabis is a complex plant with hundreds of different compounds, some more medicinally active than others. While much of the focus is on THC and CBD, many other cannabis compounds can work with THC and CBD as a team to provide greater health benefits.


Phytocannabinoids, also known as cannabinoids, are naturally produced chemical compounds in the cannabis plant that interact with the body’s endocannabinoid receptors, part of the endocannabinoid system (ECS). The ECS regulates various functions, including sleep, memory, mood, and appetite.

THC and CBD are the most well-known cannabinoids and most commonly found in the plant. Minor cannabinoids such as cannabigerol (CBG), cannabinol (CBN), and cannabichromene (CBC), among others, make up a small concentration of the plant but can provide beneficial effects when paired with other cannabis plant compounds.


Terpenes are naturally occurring compounds found in plants, fruit, and herbs. They are responsible for a plant’s aroma and flavor. In cannabis strains, terpenes produce the plant’s complex smell and taste.


Over 20 different flavonoids have been identified in cannabis plants. They are responsible for the colors and flavors of plants, including cannabis. Flavonoids also play a part in protecting plants from UV rays, diseases, and pests. Research has also shown that flavonoids may provide medicinal benefits. 

Types of CBD Products

three oil tinctures next to cannabis leaves, entourage effect

Cannabidiol (CBD) products have become wildly popular due to their non-intoxicating nature. However, there are several types of CBD oil products available. Each offers a different set of compounds. Depending on whether you want to feel high or not and experience the entourage effect, you will have a few options.


Broad-spectrum cannabis products contain all of the components in cannabis, except for THC. Broad-spectrum CBD is ideal for users who want to get the most out of cannabis without the intoxication or risk of failing a drug test.


Full-spectrum CBD products contain the entire range of cannabis compounds, including THC and all other cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids. 


Cannabinoid isolates contain just one cannabinoid. Cannabinoid isolates can contain up to 99 percent of a cannabinoid. Isolate products usually come in a powder or crystalline form.

Research on the Entourage Effect

The entourage effect was first discovered by researchers Raphael Mechoulam and Shimon Ben-Shabat in 1998. They found that inactive compounds improved the therapeutic ability of the body’s primary endocannabinoids (naturally-produced compounds): 2-AG and anandamide. THC and CBD work just like these compounds.

In 2001, Ethan Russo and John McPartland published the paper, “Cannabis and Cannabis Extracts: Greater Than the Sum of Their Parts.” This research supported the “entourage effect” hypothesis.

Their research found that “secondary compounds in cannabis may enhance the beneficial effects of THC” and “may reduce THC-induced anxiety, cholinergic deficits, and immunosuppression.” 

Researchers also stated that “cannabis terpenoids and flavonoids may also increase cerebral blood flow, enhance cortical activity, kill respiratory pathogens, and provide anti-inflammatory activity.”

In a 2011 review of studies, titled “Taming THC: potential cannabis synergy and phytocannabinoid-terpenoid entourage effects,” researchers found that consuming terpenes and cannabinoids together may be helpful for:

  • Cancer
  • Pain
  • Anxiety
  • Epilepsy
  • Inflammation
  • Fungal infection 

In a 2015 study, CBD isolate effects were compared against effects from full-spectrum extracts. In the study, researchers found that mice treated with full-spectrum products experienced significantly more relief than those who only took CBD isolate.

In addition, researchers found that full-spectrum CBD did not lose efficiency with higher doses, while CBD isolate did.

Benefits of THC

  • Pain
  • Anxiety
  • Nausea
  • Low appetite
  • Insomnia
  • Glaucoma
  • Muscle spasticity

Benefits of CBD

  • Seizures
  • Nausea
  • Inflammation
  • Migraine
  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Inflammation
  • Pain

Can You Take CBD or THC alone?

CBD and THC can be taken alone or together for medical and recreational purposes. However, research shows that taking CBD and THC together, along with all of the plant’s other active compounds, may be more beneficial than taking THC or CBD alone.

CBD has helped some people offset the adverse effects of high doses of THC like sleepiness, anxiety, and the “munchies.” The 2011 review also concluded that CBD might reduce THC’s side effects.

Cannabis Entourage Effect Recap

The entourage effect is a notion in cannabis science that describes the intricate interactions that can take place between the various compounds that are found within the cannabis plant.

It is believed that these interactions cause effects that are distinct from the effects of the substances when they are separated, and typically produce outcomes that are more favorable.

Principal Constituents:

Cannabinoids are chemicals found in cannabis that interact with the cannabinoid receptors found throughout the body. Examples of cannabinoids include THC, CBD, CBN, and CBG.

Terpenes are oils that contribute to the effects of cannabis as well as its particular aromas and odors. Terpenes are found in cannabis.

Flavonoids are compounds that contribute to the flavor and aroma of the plant and may also have their own impacts on the experience. Flavonoids are found in plants.

The theory behind this is that the components of the plant interact synergistically together to amplify the effects of the plant as a whole. To give one example, the absorption of cannabinoids may be increased by certain terpenes, while other terpenes may help reduce the adverse effects that may be caused by cannabinoids.

In a similar vein, the presence of many cannabinoids at the same time may result in a more comprehensive and successful therapeutic outcome than a single cannabinoid would be capable of achieving on its own.

The entourage effect suggests that whole-plant cannabis preparations could be more effective for medicinal purposes than isolated THC or CBD. As a result, there is a push in some medical circles to use full-spectrum or broad-spectrum cannabis extracts, which contain a more complete profile of the plant's compounds.

This is because the entourage effect suggests that whole-plant cannabis preparations could be more effective for medicinal purposes than isolated THC or CBD.

Terpenes and flavonoids may increase the potency of principal cannabinoids such as CBD and THC. This effect may be mediated by terpenes.

Activation of a Greater Number of Receptors Cannabinoids have a wide range of interactions with the body's receptors, and the entourage effect has the ability to activate even more of these receptors, so increasing the therapeutic potential.

Reduced Negative Effects The various chemicals have the potential to lessen the adverse effects that cannabinoids on their own may have, such as the anxious feelings brought on by THC.

The entourage effect is one of the primary reasons why so many cannabis consumers and medical professionals support the utilization of full-spectrum products.

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This demonstrates how vital it is to maintain the inherent complexity of the cannabis plant in any products that are destined to be used for therapeutic purposes.

Nevertheless, there is a need for additional research to completely comprehend and optimize these interactions for maximum therapeutic efficacy.

Learn More About Cannabis at Cannabis Training University

While more research is needed into the entourage effect, studies find that full-spectrum products are better than isolates.

However, isolates can help several others who can’t consume THC but still want the plant’s medical benefits.

For the latest information about cannabis’ medicinal properties, cannabinoids and terpenes, and the endocannabinoid system, enroll in Cannabis Training University’s online industry training program today.

Fred Hernandez - Cannabis industry expert writer
Fred Hernandez

Fred Hernandez is a highly accomplished and versatile writer, boasting an extensive background in the cannabis industry. With an in-depth understanding of various sectors including cultivators, processors, retailers, and brands, Fred's expertise spans across the entire cannabis landscape. As a prominent contributor to CTU, he consistently delivers insightful articles exploring the latest developments, news, and regulations shaping the cannabis industry. Whether it's delving into the intricacies of cannabis products, cannabis strain reviews, or providing comprehensive analyses of cannabis laws, or sharing expert insights on cannabis cultivation techniques, Fred's wealth of knowledge positions him as an invaluable writer and educator for all cannabis-related subjects.

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