Posted in:

What I Wish I Learned in Biology Class: The ECS & Entourage Effect

Article at a glance:

Explore the science behind the cannabinoid entourage effect, where the hemp plant's various compounds such as CBD, CBN, terpenes, and flavonoids interact together to produce a synergistic effect greater than the sum of its parts.

Did you know that every human being has a secret system in our bodies that plays a key role in keeping us in balance, regulating our nervous system and parts of the brain, and influencing mood, metabolism, appetite, stress levels, sleep, and overall health and wellness?

When I was in school, I learned about the nervous system. I learned about the circulatory system. But I never heard of the endocannabinoid system (ECS) – a system that affects all the others.

What is the Endocannabinoid System?

Try our all-natural, melatonin free sleep aid

“Endo” means “within.”  The endocannabinoid system, or ECS, is a complex network of cell receptors within the body that acts as a message switchboard of sorts. Incredibly, it was only discovered in 1988. Turns out, it’s one of our body’s primary ways to modulate pain, appetite, digestion, mood, inflammation, and coordination.

The endocannabinoid system is present in our skin, brain, muscle tissue, and other parts of our bodies. It is designed to respond to our external and internal environments and keep our bodies in balance. For example, if there is an increase in stress or anxiety, it activates to help reduce it. If you feel pain, it works to lessen it. When cells are sending signals of inflammation, it triggers an action to decrease it.

The human body’s endocannabinoid system contains two main types of cannabinoid receptors: CB1 and CB2. CB1 receptors are generally found in the central nervous system and parts of the brain. CB2 receptors are found in the skeletal system, GI tract, spleen, testes, ovaries, and other nervous system tissue.

Phytocannabinoids: An intro to CBD, CBG, and CBN

“Phyto” means “plant.”  Two types of cannabinoids interact with these receptors: the endocannabinoids we produce naturally within our bodies, and phytocannabinoids from plants that include CBD, THC, cannabinol (CBN), and cannabigerol (CBG).

CBD stands for cannabidiol and serves as a booster to the endocannabinoid system in the body to help when you need to de-stress and relieve exercise-induced inflammation. While research is limited and more is being conducted regularly, CBG has been shown to help increase energy and mental clarity, while CBN’s natural sedating effects can help aid in better sleep.

Phytocannabinoids mimic the natural cannabinoids produced within our bodies in the endocannabinoid system. And when cannabinoids such as CBD or CBN are consumed by humans, they interact directly with the CB1 and CB2 receptors mentioned earlier to help our natural endocannabinoid system bring our mind and body back into balance.

What is CBD?

CBD, or cannabidiol, is a compound found in the cannabis plant. It is non-psychoactive and has been found to have a variety of potential health and wellness benefits. Many athletes are turning to CBD as a viable means to aid in their athletic recovery thus leading to better performance.

CBD from hemp does not produce the psychoactive effect commonly associated with marijuana. It is federally legal. To qualify as “legal hemp” under the US 2018 Farm Bill, the hemp biomass may not contain more than 0.3% THC. A normal cannabis plant has a much higher percentage of THC, which is what causes the intoxicating “high” effect.

People, and many athletes specifically, tend to use CBD for the following purposes:

  • To get relief from exercise-induced inflammation and speed up recovery after strenuous workouts.
  • To facilitate a sense of calm and focus often associated with a state of homeostasis or balance in the body
  • To support better rest and improved sleep
  • To help manage stress and improve mood as well as well-being from everyday activities 

The Entourage Effect

In addition to CBD, hemp contains hundreds of other compounds, including various flavonoids, aromatic terpenes, and over 100 minor cannabinoids. Terpenes give plants their fragrance and can also have therapeutic benefits. For example, lavender’s terpenes provide its fragrance and produce a calming effect.

Flavonoids are antioxidant-rich nutrients found in many plants, fruits, and vegetables, and can also have therapeutic effects. They have also been shown to have beneficial anti-inflammatory effects and can protect your cells from oxidative damage.

Each of these compounds in cannabis plants has specific health attributes. When combined, however, they create what scientists refer to as an “entourage effect” by which the therapeutic impact of the individual compounds is greater than the sum of its single-molecule parts. The cannabinoids, flavonoids, and terpenes work together to offer more benefits and therapeutic potential than if they were isolated, individual cannabinoids on their own.

Think of it like an orchestra, with hundreds of instruments – strings, brass, percussion, vocals – working together in harmony to produce a symphony of sound bigger and more powerful than a lone instrument can achieve on its own. This is the power of the entourage effect.

Broad-Spectrum CBD

If you want the broader effects of the entire cannabis plant – if you want to experience the entourage effect – full-spectrum CBD may be the best fit for you. But if you want the entourage effect without THC, broad-spectrum CBC is a great option.

“Broad-spectrum CBD” refers to CBD that retains the other cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids and has less than .3% THC. Many people want to avoid THC and worry about it showing up on a drug test, which is a possibility with full-spectrum CBD. Hemp-derived CBD products with less than 0.3% THC are federally legal.

All SummaForte™ products are broad-spectrum, meaning they’re produced with CBD and other cannabinoids that come from the legal hemp plant. SummaForte’s award-winning “Lifter” hemp is full of beneficial nutrients, including CBD and others that work together to maintain a state of homeostasis in the mind and body. Broad-spectrum hemp offers more restorative and therapeutic properties than isolate strains that include only a handful of cannabinoids and don’t offer the benefits of the entourage of nutrients.

SummaForte™ partnered with leading researchers to identify Lifter hemp as the absolute best hemp strain for its customers. It combines the energizing qualities of two hemp strains to produce non-GMO seeds, organic certified, and carefully curated to bring users the most benefits. Every lot is tested to validate quality and consistency, while also ensuring that their plants have no pesticides, no additives, and no synthetics.

SummaRest™: A CBD & CBN infused non-melatonin sleep aid.

SummaForte’s SummaRest™ is a good example of the entourage effect at work. SummaRest™ is a fast-acting, all-natural sleep aid that helps you fall asleep fast and sleep soundly through the night. It combines CBN, the cannabinoid with great restorative sleep benefits, with CBD and sleep-enhancing botanicals such as valerian root to help people recharge and recover. The CBN’s effectiveness is believed to be enhanced by how it interacts with CBD and certain terpenes.

SummaRest™ works within minutes, calming the mind and body, so users fall asleep quickly and naturally and get quality sleep without waking up groggy the next day. The CBN and CBD in SummaRest™ work together to help manage these symptoms without causing any grogginess in the morning.