Although THC and CBD tend to hog all the attention, did you know there are actually hundreds of other important cannabinoids and terpenoids found within the same cannabis plant? Many cannabinoids don’t receive any attention at all, and not because they have any fewer medical benefits. For instance, have you ever heard of CBG, THCa, CBN, THCv, or CBC? There are literally hundreds of cannabinoids and terpenoids in cannabis that are being ignored by the mainstream medical media, through no fault of their own. Every cannabis strain contains a individual profile of these substances, all working together in a complex dance that targets different combinations of health benefits.
Popular cannabinoids like CBD and THC tend to make the most noise because their proponents each claim their benefits are better in isolation, but is this true? The new movement in cannabinoid therapy is strongly suggesting otherwise, and moving towards something called whole plant medicine. Gone are the days where treatment with the purest CBD oils is considered the best option, because if the other cannabinoids are removed, what could you be missing out on? The new focus is on deriving whole plant medicinal therapies, which take advantage of the entire spectrum of the cannabis plant. Just because you have never heard of all the different cannabinoids, doesn’t reduce their capacity for treatment.
The entourage effect goes hand in hand with the whole plant medicine ideology. It means that the cannabinoids, usually THC and CBD, work better together than they do apart. As the different cannabinoids are ingested, they all interact differently with our endocannabinoid system. Some directly stimulate the CB1 and CB2 receptors, while others, like CBD, indirectly influence the receptors. As the myriads of cannabinoids move through the endocannabinoid system, and are processed, they also can change in character. They not only interact with the human body, but also interact with themselves. Their composition can change, they can turn into another cannabinoid, they are constantly working in mysterious ways. Research has only just begun scratching the surface of how these substances affect the mind and body.
The synergy that characterizes the cannabinoids’ relationship with each other is what scientists believe leads to the power of the entourage effect. The cannabis plant, like all natural things, was never meant to be reduced down to individual components. The interaction between each of the components is much greater than simply a sum of these parts.
One primary example of how different cannabinoids work better together, one that is very well known, is the cohesion of THC and CBD. They work in conjunction to reduce the psychoactive effects of THC, making the whole plant more therapeutically available, and reducing the potential side effects. Another example is how the lesser-known cannabinoids, CBC and CBN, work together with CBD and THC to treat insomnia. If you were to only use one of these cannabinoids as a treatment for insomnia, would it be as effective as the combination?
Cannabidiol has paved the way for popular acceptance of cannabis as an alternative medicine. Without CBD, it’s likely that lawmakers would still see cannabis as an extremely illicit drug, with no medical benefits at all. However, because CBD-heavy strains of cannabis plant promoted serious health benefits without the intoxicating effects so associated with THC-heavy strains, law makers and medical professionals began to have their eyes opened.
Perhaps the pivotal moment, when the tide turned in the favor of CBD, was when desperate parents began reporting near miraculous reductions of seizures in their small children. They were able to treat their children with cannabis, because it was a CBD heavy strain that caused no stoned effect. How could lawmakers turn a blind eye to this potential?
Now, as acceptance of cannabis as a medicine is at an all-time high, thanks to CBD only strains, medical professionals, producers and patients should begin focusing on the benefits of using the whole plant for therapy. Moving toward a full acceptance of the varieties of cannabis, which all have unique combinations of cannabinoids, can only lead to major leaps in medical benefits.