Understanding the Entourage Effect: What is This Phenomenon?

Understanding the Entourage Effect: What is This Phenomenon?

If you’ve spent a significant amount of time in cannabis circles, you may already have heard of the entourage effect. If not, you’re about to learn! Although researchers are still working to understand how this phenomenon works, one thing seems apparent. The individual components of cannabis plants seem to work in harmony with one another, empowering each other’s potential effects. In this post, we’ll try to demystify the entourage effect and learn how to harness its power.

Cannabinoids, Terpenes & the Entourage Effect

Understanding how the entourage effect works begins with knowing how terpenes and cannabinoids work.

Two main families of organic compounds give marijuana its effects: cannabinoids and terpenes. These two classes of compounds both have their own unique effects, and when they’re both present, work synergistically to enhance one another.


cannabis oil entourage effect

This family of organic compounds includes more than 100 naturally occurring chemicals found in cannabis plants. The two major cannabinoids - THC and CBD - are some of the most-recognized ingredients in marijuana plants. THC has a reputation for its psychoactive effects, while more people know CBD for its potential healing benefits.

These aren’t the only two cannabinoids present in marijuana plants, though. Minor cannabinoids, which individually account for less than 1 percent of a cannabis plant, also exist in small amounts. They include:

  • Cannabigerol (CBG) - a “precursor” compound that can transform into other cannabinoids later in a plant’s life cycle. 
  • Cannabinol (CBN) - this compound appears in aged cannabis and may act as an antibacterial agent, neuroprotectant, and appetite stimulator.

In addition to these traits, both CBN and CBG can empower other cannabinoids via the entourage effect. For example, researchers believe that CBN works to enhance the sedative effects of strains.


terpenes entourage effect

Terpenes are a common component not only of cannabis, but many plants and animals found in nature. These organic compounds are known for their ability to carry fragrance and flavor. If you’ve ever wrinkled your nose at a tangy citrus strain or savored the scent of sweet, aromatic genetics, you’ve experienced the power of terpenes.

That’s not the only power they possess, though. Terpenes, like cannabinoids, also lend their own traits to a strain or extract. Some of the most common terpenes in cannabis are:

  • Myrcene - the most common terpene in cannabis plants. Myrcene has antimicrobial properties, which other terpenes can enhance via the entourage effect.
  • Linalool - a spicy, sharp terpene that’s also found in lavender plants.
  • Limonene - a zesty, citrusy terpene that’s common in fruity-flavored strains. Limonene’s main ability seems to be enhancing the effects of other terpenes, supercharging the entourage effect.

Just like cannabinoids, terpenes work synergistically to maximize each other’s potential.

How Does the Entourage Effect Work?

At this point, we’ve discovered how terpenes and cannabinoids can use the entourage effect to make each other more powerful. There’s one more key aspect of the entourage effect that we haven’t covered yet, though.

Terpenes and cannabinoids can even use the entourage effect to empower one another. For example, limonene may be able to do more than just help out other terpenes - it can even boost the effects of CBD or THC.

With this in mind, you can research some of your favorite strains to determine their terpene and cannabinoid profiles. You may find some similarities between two different strains’ building blocks. Happy hunting!