When people talk about their experience with CBD products a phrase that's often used is the "entourage effect". However, it's hard to know what to believe because there seems to be differing perceptions and limited scientific research.
We look into the history of the entourage effect and whether it can be experienced when consuming CBD from hemp.
What’s the difference between full-spectrum CBD and CBD isolate?
To understand the entourage effect we first have to look at full-spectrum CBD and CBD isolate.
When CBD is referred to as full-spectrum or whole-plant it means that the product contains CBD and all of the other cannabinoids that are present in the hemp plant. Products in the UK containing full-spectrum CBD are 100% legal.
When CBD is referred to as isolate it means that the product contains just CBD and no other cannabinoids. As of January 2019 and under EU laws any products containing CBD isolate is considered a novel food and can no longer be sold in the UK.
What is the entourage effect?
A scientific study in 1998 first noticed the entourage effect. The study found that the body reacted in additional beneficial ways when compounds worked together and these additional reactions didn’t occur if the compounds were isolated.
The term 'the entourage effect' now tends to refer to the benefits experienced when consuming cannabis. It’s the belief that the body responds better to full-spectrum CBD rather than CBD isolate.
"The sum of all the parts that leads to the magic or power of cannabis", according to Chris Emerson.
Is the entourage effect real?
Whilst there hasn't been an enormous amount of scientific studies done to investigate, the research that has been conducted so far indicates that the entourage effect is real.
In 2015 scientists observed the effects of full-spectrum and CBD isolate on mice. They discovered that the mice taking full-spectrum CBD had a higher level of relief and continued to have relief as the dose increased. The mice taking CBD isolate saw lower levels of relief and no difference when the dose was increased. They found that "Ultimately, the whole plant extract had better efficacy than the isolate".
In addition to this, some scientific research suggests that full-spectrum CBD works better than isolate because of the other cannabinoids that are present. As each cannabinoid offers different benefits, when all of these components are working together they produce stronger effects that wouldn’t be achieved with just CBD working alone.
Furthermore, and although this isn’t a scientific method, many people who have consumed both CBD isolate and full-spectrum CBD have noted that they have felt stronger effects from the full-spectrum products. There’s the consideration in these cases that the entourage effect may be working as a placebo, making those who believe in the theory perceive to be experiencing stronger effects.