When researching about CBD and cannabis, a phrase that often comes up is the entourage effect. However, there is a lot of confusion and differing opinions regarding the term. Here we discuss the origins of the term and differing perspectives on whether hemp CBD has an entourage effect.


The earliest documented use of the term “entourage effect” appears to be a scientific study published in 1998 entitled An Entourage Effect: inactive endogenous fatty acid glycerol esters enhance 2-Arachidonoyl-glycerol cannabinoid activity.

This study analyzed how certain esters bind to CB1 & CB2 receptors and increase the biological activity of 2-AG while working together – something that doesn’t happen when they were isolated.1 2-AG naturally occurs in the central nervous system as well as in human milk.

The term entourage effect referred to the synergy that occured between certain esters and compounds to create a positive biological response that wouldn’t have occured without ther entourage of components working together.

It’s important to mention that while many people associate the term entourage effect to be a term for the effects of cannabis, the initial study conducted when the term was coined was not a study of the effects of cannabis.

While this study was the first time the process of compounds working together to enhance effect was named the Entourage Effect, it wasn’t the first time that scientists took note of its occurrence.

In 1981, scientists took note that THC had a much greater effect on mice when it was used as a whole plant rather than an isolate. 2



As with many things, the meaning and intention of the expression entourage effect has changed over time. Today, when people refer to the entourage effect, it’s almost exclusively related to the effect of cannabis and hemp.

The term Entourage Effect is now accepted by the general cannabis community as something that occurs with broad-spectrum cannabis or hemp products. The belief is that when utilizing the whole plant its multiple components work together to create a synergistic outcome colloquially called the entourage effect.


One of the more recent and revolutionary studies came from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, “Overcoming the Bell-Shaped Dose-Response of Cannabidiol by Using Cannabis Extract Enriched in Cannabidiol”.

The study observed two sets of mice: one set received CBD isolate, the other set received whole plant extracts of a CBD-rich strain of cannabis.

The mice receiving CBD isolate demonstrated a bell-shaped response. This means that the effect piques at a narrow dosage level and is less effective with doses smaller or larger than the optimal. This was not the case with the mice who received the extract with traces of other cannabinoids.


Ultimately, the whole plant extract had better efficacy than the isolate.3



The term “entourage” means a group of people surrounding and supporting a central person. Likewise, with the term “entourage effect”, there is one central component that is supported by other parts of the plant.

If a broad-spectrum CBD product has all the surrounding components – or the entourage – except for the THC, will the effect still occur?

While some scientific papers highlight the beneficial relationship between THC & CBD, others point to the general benefits of a synergistic relationship between other parts of the plant.4

Full-Spectrum vs. Broad Spectrum

Full-spectrum and Broad-spectrum are similar. They both refer to CBD that includes a profile of terpenes that work synergistically with cannabidiol. Full-spectrum contains THC. Broad-spectrum may or may not contain THC.

Some scientists are exploring the potency of terpenoids and their overall contribution to the entourage effect.5

The truth is, the decades-long prohibition impeded the study of this incredible plant species, and only now are we beginning to catch up scientists are really only beginning to understand – and scientifically prove – how the compounds of cannabis and hemp work together and what amazing potential they hold.

Thanks to changes in laws and social acceptance, more researchers are able to dig deeper, uncovering more information about each of the compounds in the hemp plant and how they work together.

Right now, it’s impossible for anyone to say with absolute certainty which compounds are necessary to maximize the entourage effect of cannabis and hemp – and you should question anyone who tries to convince you that they have the answer. The best tactic is to keep reading the science as it continues to emerge so you can stay up-to-date with the latest findings.



  • Research continues to point the idea that whole plants could be more effective than isolated compounds.
  • Emerging research pertaining to adaptogens and their synergistic relationship could revolutionize the future of wellness.


  • The term entourage effect refers to the synergy between more than one compound, ester, or naturally present biological component.
  • A bell-shaped response to a supplement means the effect piques and is less effective with smaller or larger doses than optimal.
  • Scientists are continuing to research the way various compounds in hemp (and other plants) work together to provide more wellness benefits.



  1. Ben-Shabat S., Fride E, Sheskin T, Tamiri T, Rhee MH, Vogel Z, Bisogno T, De Petrocellis L, Di Marzo V, Mechoulam R, An entourage effect: inactive endogenous fatty acid glycerol esters enhance 2-arachidonoyl-glycerol cannabinoid activity, European Journal of Pharmacology, 1998 Jul 7,
  2. J. W. Fairbairn, J.T. Pickens, Activity of cannbis in relation to its delta-trans-tetrahydro-cannabinol content, British Journal Of Pharmacology, 1981 Mar,
  3. Russo EB, Marco J, Cannabis Pharmacology: The Usual Suspects and a Few Promising Leads, Adv. Pharmacology, 2017,
  4. Ethan B. Russo, Taming THC: potential cannabis synergy and phytocannabinoid-terpenoid entourage effects, British Journal of Pharmacology, 2011 Aug,
  5. Ethan B. Russo, Taming THC: potential cannabis synergy and phytocannabinoid-terpenoid entourage effects, British Journal of Pharmacology, 2011 Aug,

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