What is the Entourage Effect in Cannabis?

The “Entourage Effect” is a term used to describe the synergistic interaction of various chemical compounds present in the cannabis plant.

These compounds, which include cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids, are believed to work together to produce a more significant therapeutic effect than any individual compound alone.

The concept was first proposed by Dr. Raphael Mechoulam and Dr. Shimon Ben-Shabat in 1998 and has since been a topic of significant interest in cannabis research.

Cannabinoids, Terpenes and Flavinoids

Cannabinoids: Cannabinoids are the primary active compounds in cannabis, with the most well-known and studied being delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD).

THC is responsible for the psychoactive effects of cannabis, while CBD is non-psychoactive and is believed to have numerous therapeutic benefits.

However, there are over 100 other cannabinoids present in the plant, and research suggests that these lesser-known compounds may also contribute to the entourage effect.

Terpenes: Terpenes are aromatic compounds found in many plants, including cannabis. They give each cannabis strain its unique scent and flavor profile.

Terpenes are thought to play a crucial role in the entourage effect due to their potential therapeutic properties, which can include anti-inflammatory, analgesic, and anxiolytic effects. Some common terpenes in cannabis include myrcene, limonene, and pinene.

Flavonoids: Flavonoids are another group of compounds found in cannabis and other plants. They are responsible for the coloration of plants and also possess antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties.

While the exact role of flavonoids in the entourage effect is still under investigation, it is believed that they may contribute to the overall therapeutic effects of cannabis.

Scientific Research

Research into the entourage effect is ongoing, and while many studies support the idea, the concept remains somewhat controversial.

A 2011 review by Dr. Ethan Russo, published in the British Journal of Pharmacology, examined the potential synergistic effects of cannabinoids and terpenes in cannabis.

The review concluded that the combination of these compounds could result in enhanced therapeutic effects, reduced adverse effects, and increased overall efficacy (Russo, 2011).

Another study published in 2018 in the journal Frontiers in Plant Science investigated the effects of terpenes and cannabinoids on pain relief in animal models.

The study found that certain combinations of terpenes and cannabinoids produced more significant pain relief than individual compounds alone, supporting the concept of the entourage effect (Gallily et al., 2018).

Despite the growing body of research supporting the entourage effect, it is essential to note that many studies are preliminary and conducted in vitro or on animal models.

More clinical trials in humans are needed to fully understand and validate the entourage effect and its implications for medical cannabis use.


Gallily, R., Yekhtin, Z., & Hanuš, L. O. (2018). The Anti-Inflammatory Properties of Terpenoids from Cannabis. Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research, 3(1), 282–290. https://doi.org/10.1089/can.2018.0014

Russo, E. B. (2011). Taming THC: Potential Cannabis Synergy and Phytocannabinoid-terpenoid Entourage Effects. British Journal of Pharmacology, 163(7), 1344–1364. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1476-5381.2011.01238.x

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