The Entourage Effect in Cannabis

Stephen Andrews
11 Oct 2023

It has been long postulated that THC or CBD in their pure forms may not always generate the best effect. The theory has been that when different cannabinoids are combined together they produce better results. These products are sold as “full-spectrum” and the results they give are known as the “entourage effect.” Now there is scientific evidence on the superior potency of entourage.

A new study appears to confirm what many have believed to be true. Consuming cannabis products with multiple cannabinoids in it generates a stronger and longer-lasting high than THC alone. The study goes in favor of the entourage effect

The research effort was a collaboration between cannabis retailer PAX, and Canadian neurotechnology company, Zentrela.  

More Cannabinoids = Stronger Psychoactive Experience?

In the recent pursuit, researchers used novel electroencephalogram (EEG) technology backed by AI to measure how high people felt after vaping two different cannabis products. One of the products they checked was a full-spectrum live rosin with average 85% THC, and the second was a pure THC oil extract with up to 85% potency. 

As part of the study, the researchers invited 28 adult participants who inhaled either the full-spectrum rosin or the pure THC oil. They used the EEG technology, a special headset developed by the canna tech company Zentrela, to read the brain activity before consumption, and to monitor eight regions of the brain in the 90 minutes following the inhalation. The readings were then transcribed into “psychoactive effect levels (PEL) in a standardized scale from zero percent to 100 percent.” 

The investigation showed that full-spectrum live rosin that combined THC with other cannabinoids and terpenes had a somewhat earlier onset of three minutes, a higher potency reading for the onset - 20.8%, and higher potency at the peak after 15 minutes - 40%. At the final reading, after 90 minutes, the potency measured was 30.2%. 

In contrast, the pure THC product’s average onset was four minutes, with a potency reading of 13.5% at the start. The potency increased at 19.1% at the peak and decreased slightly to 18.1% at the end. 

The findings appear to support the “entourage effect” theory, which claims that marijuana that is rich with different cannabinoid and terpenoid compounds is more effective than flower or products with less abundant content. At the same time, the readings also suggest a more consistent experience with non full-spectrum products, since the high from THC oil remained at almost same intensity between the peak and the end of the observing session. 

“Consumers looking for psychoactive effects typically shop for cannabis products based on THC, which is a bit of a fallacy,” said in a statement Brian Witlin, Vice President of Product Development at PAX. 

“In the spirit of continuing to advance cannabis research and understanding of the plant — which has been far too limited for much too long — we wanted to demonstrate through scientific study how full spectrum products with the full range of terpenes and cannabinoids have a more profound impact on the onset and ultimate cannabis experience,” Witlin said. 

He added: “We hope this type of insight helps consumers understand that shopping for products based on THC% alone is not the leading indicator of expected experience.” 

The entourage effect is considered also important for those who consume cannabis for medical and health reasons. More knowledge on the entourage effect may help improve therapeutic uses of cannabis.  

The collaborative study between PAX and Zentrela is a rare attempt to find out more about the entourage effect. The study still needs to undergo a peer-review and to be officially published in a scientific journal. However, it offers important insights on full-spectrum products against pure extracts. It’s definitely a subject worthy of more attention and research. 

Also read on Soft Secrets:

CBD Does Not Reduce High, Says Research

How to Roll a More Potent Joint?

- All About Rosin Dabs!

Stephen Andrews