The concept of the entourage effect was first recognized and introduced by researchers Raphael Mechoulam and Shimon Ben-Shabat in 1998. They observed that certain inactive compounds seemed to enhance the therapeutic properties of endocannabinoids like 2-AG and anandamide. Subsequently, in 2001, Ethan Russo and John McPartland supported Mechoulam and Ben-Shabat’s hypothesis with their published research paper. Their findings suggested that secondary compounds in cannabis might augment the beneficial effects of THC, while also potentially reducing THC-induced anxiety, cholinergic deficits, and immunosuppression.
Recent studies have further demonstrated that consuming full-spectrum cannabis products containing terpenes may provide significantly more relief compared to using isolated cannabinoids. Supporters of the entourage effect theory agree that the combination and synergy of various cannabinoids produce effects that cannot be achieved with isolated compounds. Each ingredient contributes to a whole that is greater than the sum of its individual parts.
The chemical interactions between compounds, including terpenes and flavonoids, play a crucial role in the potential therapeutic value of cannabis for various human conditions. The entourage effect holds promise as it points to a more comprehensive approach to harnessing the medicinal properties of cannabis and its compounds.