Whole Plant Medicine: The Entourage Effect
Have you ever looked at the cannabis plant? If you really look closely, you’ll see shades of green, sometimes purple or white, and often the buds are covered in crystal-like hairs. Have you ever wondered what’s all in those beautiful flowers that give medical marijuana its color, smell and taste? In addition to cannabinoids, cannabis plants… like most plants, have terpenes. Using the mix of cannabinoids and terpenes is what we call, whole plant medicine.
If you’re curious about why whole plant medicine is so important, you’ll want to continue reading…
What is Whole Plant Medicine?
Whole plant medicine refers to using entire cannabis flowers and leaves, not just isolated parts, to make medical marijuana. This entails using all the phytocannabinoids together, not pulling them out or isolating them from the rest of the plant. An example of a cannabinoid isolate is the ever popular “CBD Oil”. Unless the bottle says “full spectrum” users are only getting CBD, not any of the other cannabinoids, as it has been isolated from the other phytocannabinoids.
Let’s back up and talk about phytocannabinoids for a second. Phytocannabinoids are produced by plants in the form of carboxylic acids and there are over two hundred of them. Two examples are THCA and CBDA. When heated through vaporizing, heating or decarboxylating or just over time, these phytocannabinoids become cannabinoids. For example, THCA and CBDA become the two most well-known cannabinoids, THC and CBD. THC, CBD and their other “cousin cannabinoids” all benefit different systems in the body in different ways.
THC has many benefits to the human body, though it is most commonly known as the “psycho-active” cannabinoid that produces the euphoric feeling associated with marijuana. While CBD and other cannabinoids called CBG are not psycho-active, they have a plethora of medical benefits.
In addition to the cannabinoids, in recent years the category of “phytocannabinoid” has also grown to include anything that interacts with the body’s cannabinoid receptors of the endocannabinoid system. This includes an aroma producing component found in most plants, called terpenes.
Common Terpenes and Their Medical Benefits
Terpenes are what gives medical marijuana, as well as flowers, spices and fruits, its delicious scent. In fact, terpenes are the most common plant chemical found in nature and like cannabinoids, terpenes can interact with many receptors throughout the body. Therefore, including them into the medical marijuana equation is so important.
Myrcene: Effects are sedating and relaxing. Myrcene, which is also found in mangos and citrus fruits, enhances THC’s psycho-activity. Medicinally it has antiseptic, antibacterial and antifungal properties, and helps treat inflammation.
Linalool: This terpene, also found in lavender, is sedating and calming. Linalool helps treat insomnia, stress, depression, anxiety, pain and convulsions. Strains high in linalool are great for those suffering from epilepsy.
Pinene: Found also in pine needles and sage, pinene aids in memory retention and helps to keep you alert. Along with its neuroprotective properties, this terpene also helps with inflammation and asthma.
Humulene: A great appetite suppressant, consuming strains with humulene may help you lose weight. In addition to this bonus feature, it is also anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and helps with the treatment of chronic pain. Strange enough, humulene is also found in hops… yes, the kind that make beer!
Limonene: Also located in citrus rinds and peppermint, limonene elevates mood and relieves stress. Its medicinal benefits include, but are not limited to, aiding with depression, anxiety, gastric reflex and fatigue.
Caryophyllene: This terpene is responsible for the scent of pepper, basil and several common spices. Caryophyllene is an antioxidant that also helps with inflammation, muscle spasms, pain and insomnia.
Cannabinoids & Terpenes: Whole Plant Medicine & The Entourage Effect
The whole purpose of whole plant medicine is really to experience the “entourage effect”. The entourage effect is basically describing how, when together, different amounts of cannabinoids mixed with different terpenes can create a better result. Whether this result is a more euphoric feeling or more medical relief, it really is what marijuana consumers are going for no matter why they are consuming.
So, why is whole plant medicine important? Think of it as “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts”. Together, all the phytocannabinoids are better than when they are on their own.
Looking for more information on Whole Plant Medicine? Come on in and talk with your favorite PCC!