The Entourage Effect: How to Get The Most Out of Your Cannabis

Here’s the scoop on cannabinoids, terpenes and why some people prefer to consume cannabis in its whole form.

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You’re an explorer and an adventurer, but you’re new to cannabis and curious about how it can add to your already fulfilling life. First, it’s time to get educated about the many components of the plant. This guide will teach you about cannabinoids and terpenes and how they work in concert to produce a unique experience for each user.

What are cannabinoids?
Cannabinoids are cannabis compounds that can be activated, usually by heat during smoking, vaping or a decarboxylation process (a slow heating method that activates cannabinoids). While there are over 100 known cannabinoids, the two best-known—cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)—have been studied the most, though more research on humans is necessary to understand the benefits and side effects. THC is commonly known as the psychoactive compound that creates the feeling of being high, while CBD is non-psychoactive and is being studied to manage pain and anxiety.

What are terpenes?
Found in everything from pine needles to orange peels, terpenes are volatile hydrocarbons that produce a special taste and smell in many types of plants. Over 100 types of terpenes have been discovered in cannabis.

What are some well-known terpenes and what are their benefits?
When shopping for cannabis, whether for medicinal use or recreation, you’re likely to come across these five terpenes.

Beta-Caryophyllene
Beta-caryophyllene has a spicy, woody scent and is typically found in oregano and basil. HEXO strain Atlantis features this peppery compound, which is currently being studied for its possible role in treating inflammatory bowel disease and rheumatoid arthritis.

Limonene
Limonene has an uplifting citrus scent and appears in juniper and citrus fruits like oranges, lemons and limes. Researchers continue to explore its potential for minimizing anxiety. It also has antibacterial properties.

Linalool
With its sweet floral fragrance, linalool is found in many flowers such as lavender, as well as mint and cinnamon. Researchers at Kagoshima University in Japan found it to have anti-anxiety effects in mice when inhaled, and it may prove useful for calming humans after more research.

Myrcene
Myrcene is the terpene that gives cannabis its recognizable scent. It’s musky and earthy and can also be found in mango, lemongrass, hops and thyme. Many of HEXO’s dry flower offerings have myrcene as the primary terpene.

Alpha-Pinene
The terpene that you smell when you walk through a conifer-filled forest, alpha-pinene makes an appearance in pine trees, conifers, rosemary and sage. A study published in 2018 showed that it inhibited the growth of prostate cancer cells in mice, though more research needs to be done on humans.

What is the “Entourage Effect” and why does it matter?
In the simplest terms, it means the sum is greater than its parts. A bud of cannabis is made up of hundreds of cannabinoids and terpenes that appear to work in synergy to enhance effects and, in the case of CBD, minimize negative psychiatric effects. This phenomenon is called the “Entourage Effect” and, thanks to growing legalization, can now be studied more extensively in humans. In the future, researchers hope to better understand the benefits of using whole cannabis in the treatment of pain, inflammation, epilepsy and infections over isolated CBD or THC products.

HEXO offers a wide variety of whole-plant cannabis products for adults over the legal age limit. With a bit of knowledge about cannabinoids, terpenes and the Entourage Effect, you can make a better choice about whether cannabis is for you and how you might want to consume it.

For more information on Canadian cannabis regulations, check out the Government of Canada’s Cannabis Act. And to learn about HEXO or purchase dried cannabis flower, pre-rolled joints, powders or oils, visit hexo.com and sign up for the newsletter.