Healing with Hemp - Maximizing the Entourage Effect
The Hemp Plant
Cannabis sativa has a broad variety of herbal constituents, only some of which have been investigated for their medicinal effects. This species includes all cannabis plants including hemp, sativa and indica strains. Genetically, there is no difference in species in hemp or cannabis strains. The main difference is the ratios and potencies of different cannabinoids and terpene profiles. All of these plants contain cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids and minerals based on soil, region and growing conditions. Different regions of cannabis plants evolved differently throughout history procuring the strains we see today.
Modulating the Endocannabinoid System
Cannabinoids and terpenes modulate the endocannainoid system and work together synergistically. This synergy was dubbed 'phytocannabinoid-terpenoid synergy.' Most studies have concluded that the effects of terpenes and cannabinoids together create a more effective response than any of its isolates. This is to say, 'the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.' This is especially important when we analyze what is clinically studied to be effective and what is currently sold on the market. Many of the products today are incongruent with the studies involving the healing effects of cannabis.
Check this link below for more information regarding these studies:
“It has become clear that the healing potential of the whole plant is stronger than isolated compounds on their own.”
— Lumír Hanuš, scientist who isolated anandamide
The Entourage Effect
There is not a single study that concludes pure THC or CBD alone has any of the healing effects of a full plant extract. To further elaborate, a full spectrum/full plant extract contains over 400 compounds including terpenes, chlorophyll flavonoids and cannabinoids. (Full Spectrum CBD is nothing close to 'full spectrum,' in fact there is nothing full spectrum about it).This means that a crude, low temperature alcohol extract (like RSO) will be superior in its healing effects compared to any isolate or distillate of the cannabis plant. Alcohol will extract all the flavonoids, chlorophyll, terpenes and cannabinoids without any harm. Alcohol will also create esters of these compounds further increasing their effectiveness by raising bioavailability and absorption into the bloodstream.
The Endocannabinoid Receptors
- CB1 Receptors - These receptors are found mostly within the brain and the central nervous system. The only way these receptors are activated is if certain cannabinoids cross the Blood Brain Barrier (BBB). These receptors are mostly influenced by THC and anandamide, which is produced naturally in the body. Simply put, THC mimics anandamide.
- CB2 Receptors - These receptors are found throughout the body including the immune system, gastrointestinal system and the periphery nervous system. In addition, some of these receptors are specifically located on the spleen, brain, tonsils and thymus gland. These receptors help communicate between cells and are only activated by cannabinoids in the body and those from our diet. Fruits, vegetables, herbs (including cannabis), spices and meat all contain different cannabinoids and terpenes that interact with the CB2 Receptors.
How the Entourage Effect works
A full spectrum cannabis extract contains all the terpenes, flavonoids, chlorophyll, and cannabinoids in natural ratios from the plant. Each group of compounds has a wide array of different effects. These chemicals also interact throughout the body reinforcing the effects of the other. In spagyric preparation, the minerals of the plant are also extracted. Lets look at the different healing effects of each of these constituents...
- Terpenes - There are over 200 terpenes found in the cannabis plant. Some of the effects of known terpenes like Myrcene include lowering the resistance across the blood brain barrier, allowing terpenes and other chemicals like cannabinoids to cross the barrier into the brain easier and faster. It also increases the saturation of the CB1 receptor. Some terpenes interact with the CB2 receptors throughout the body which modulate the immune system. Common effects of terpenes include analgesic, anti-inflammatory, anti-mutagenic, anti-tumor, expectorant, bronchodilator, local antiseptic, anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, anti-psychosis, anti-anxiety, anti-oxidant, digestive aid, appetite suppressant amongst many other amazing healing properties (Source Here).
- Cannabinoids - There are 113 known cannabinoids that have been isolated from the cannabis plant. Only a handful of them have actually been clinically researched. Sadly, most of the research on isolated cannabinoids has been inconclusive when it comes to effectiveness against cancer, epilepsy, chronic pain and other diseases. Although some studies have been promising when it comes to THC and CBD being effective, many of the studies lack sufficient evidence to claim the healing qualities to a single cannabinoid (Source Here).
- Flavonoids - These chemicals make up the largest nutrient family known to scientists. Over 6,000 of them are known and 20 of them are specifically found in the Cannabis plant. These flavonoids significantly increase the overall entourage effect. One of these flavonoids, cannaflavin-A is shown to reduce inflammation and is exponentially more powerful than aspirin (Source Here).
- Minerals - The minerals found in the cannabis plant are only extractable after burning and calcining the plant to an ash. These minerals are mostly potassium based and contain other trace minerals from the soil the plant was grown in. Some astonishing evidence suggests that most americans today have a diet low in potassium and this contributes to a number of diseases. Potassium is required by your body for the proper function of all organs, tissues and cells, and it is an electrolyte necessary for the heart to beat properly. In addition, potassium plays a vital role in muscular and digestive activities (Source Here).
- Chlorophyll - This chemical is known to be an effective in fighting cancer, improves liver detoxification, speeds up wound healing, improves digestion and weight control, and it protects the skin from viruses and other diseases (Source Here).
Maximizing the Entourage Effect
By extracting and recombining all of the constituents found in the hemp plant, we can maximize the entourage effect on the body. Making an alcohol extract would remove all the constituents except the minerals. This would still be better than any other form of extract. Distillate, isolate, CO2 and Butane extracts of cannabis only remove a small amount of the plant. This leaves behind a lot of the healing properties and ultimately sells ourselves short of the true healing potential the plant is offering.
Only the spagyric preparation of cannabis/hemp would deliver all the cannabinoids, flavonoids, chlorophyll, terpenes and minerals found in the plant. This technique is thousands of years old and is the foundation for many pharmaceutical medicines today. By incorporating the alcohol extract with the extracted ash of the plant, we can maximize the entourage effect and create something that pharmaceutical companies cannot.
Changing the Paradigm
The moment we start to view herbal medicine as full plant extracts, we will come closer to finding out the true healing potential of cannabis. Many studies today are funded by pharmaceutical companies in the race to find the 'active' ingredients. The problem is there is no single compound responsible for the healing properties.
The Bottom line: Extract the plant to its fullest potential. The plant already has all the compounds together, at naturally occurring ratios. Making distillate and adding back plant derived terpenes is nothing close to what the plant offers by itself in its rawest state. If you want the healing potential from hemp, looking for alcohol based extracts that are made with organically grown cannabis/hemp. Any spagyric preparation of cannabis/hemp will include more than any other product on the market.