Dr. Jokūbas Žiburkus, PhD and Ahmad Abdulla for CANNTELLIGENCE
Why do some strains of cannabis contain the same amount of THC and CBD, but have different medicinal effects? In the last issue, we learned that molecular diversity of cannabis and its beneficial properties are well beyond just THC and CBD. To start with, in its natural raw form, cannabis contains the fullest spectrum of medicinal components, including non-psychoactive acidic cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, and omega amino acids. Likewise, the raw juice of any plant contains the widest spectrum of therapeutic molecules preserved in their natural form. Cannabis juice or juice concentrates prepared at low temperatures and high pressures (such as supercritical CO2 extraction or cold alcohol and cold separation) will contain a broad spectrum of acidic cannabinoids, terpenes, chlorophyll and other components. Collectively, diversity of chemical compounds gives rise to the cannabis entourage effect – the sum total of synergistic medicinal and euphoric effects associated with distinct cannabis strains or cultivars.
“Cannabis entourage” is not a new concept. In fact, due to the continuous and widespread practice of holistic medicine, whole herb(s) preparations remain the preferred method for various healing practices. What is relatively new in our understanding of cannabis is that with the advent of modern chromatography (separation of mixtures) in the 1960’s, scientists have been able to isolate different molecules from cannabis. Chromatography together with mass spectroscopy (measures masses), allows for the careful dissection of hundreds of chemical constituents of the cannabis plant. The newer technique of high performance liquid chromatography (HPLC) can be performed at low temperatures. This is important when isolating compounds that have low boiling temperatures, like acidic cannabinoids and terpenes. The expanded knowledge of the most dominant components in the thousands of available cannabis strains will reveal how distinct cannabis entourage components ‘jive’ with the individual psyche and physiology.
Our daily entourage and its relationship with the cannabis entourage will likely become a significant premise in individualized cannabis medicines. We typically forget that we have our distinct terpene entourages, and are highly selective about the smells we prefer in our environments, on our hair, and our bodies. In fact, body odors and the accompanying smells are strong sexual attractants. Yes, some of us are ‘lavenders’, others are ‘pines’ or ‘citruses’, and some others are “hot and spicy.” These daily terpene entourage preferences could be linked to maintaining overall physical and emotional well-being; and should be considered when selecting cannabis flowers.
The co-evolution of plants, like cannabis, hops or lavender with the human body and mind, allow our brains to select pleasant, agreeable smells and to differentiate repulsive smells as potentially harmful to our bodies1,2. The human endocannabinoid system and the cannabis plants have undoubtedly co-evolved. As such, the endocannabinoid system is one of the major homeostatic and regulatory body systems, with many functions yet to be unveiled.
As discussed in the previous issue [of Grow magazine], science has accepted the fact that different essential oils and their aromas have therapeutic effects3. When you smell, your brain forms a precise neuronal activity map, which are cellular representations of thoughts, emotions and behavior. These olfactory perceptions and memories, in the case of cannabis are then associated with certain physiological and psychological effects. Although cannabis often enhances desired effects, such as improved mood and sleep, or an increased appetite, it can also augment undesired, negative moods or anxiety. Cannabis users should document these experiences and use them as valuable indicators for selecting a specific cannabis strain/entourage. Applying critical thinking skills when selecting a specific cannabis flower, may very well promote one’s overall state of health and well-being.
The more knowledge a person has about their own daily entourage the better they can understand their cannabis needs and feel empowered to select a more agreeable cannabis entourage. So if your body and mind seek spicy or peppery flavors in cannabis and in your diet, then there is something in that nutritional and medicinal entourage that benefits your body and mind. It is important to keep in mind that the final cannabis entourage output will depend on the grow conditions, the soil, nutrients, harvest time, curing process, trimming, extraction, formulation, and many other variables. The final entourage depends on the grower and the process, as much as it does on the strain.
- Steenackers B, De Cooman L, De Vos D. Chemical transformations of characteristic hop secondary metabolites in relation to beer properties and the brewing process: a review. Food chemistry 2015:742-756.
- Leonti M. The co-evolutionary perspective of the food-medicine continuum and wild gathered and cultivated vegetables. Genetic Resources and Crop Evolution 2012:1295-1302.
- Ballard CG, O’Brien JT, Reichelt K, Perry EK. Aromatherapy as a safe and effective treatment for the management of agitation in severe dementia: the results of a double-blind, placebo-controlled trial with Melissa. The Journal of clinical psychiatry 2002:553-558.
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