THC and CBD are two of the more well known cannabinoids found in marijuana. THC is the primary psychoactive compound, while CBD is often credited with being responsible for cannabis’ medical effects. The reality is that while these two compounds have their own unique benefits, consumed together they become more effective, enhancing each other’s qualities. In other words, to be truly effective as a medicine, cannabinoids need to work together to maximize their effects.
Raphael Mechoulam was the world’s first cannabis expert. He was the first scientist to isolate and identify THC. He went on to discover a number of different cannabinoids and found that they have a very intricate relationship. Mechoulam found that cannabinoids not only work together to enhance each other’s beneficial aspects but reduce each other’s potential side effects. He dubbed this interaction the Entourage Effect. The Entourage Effect found that THC and CBD operate in the body on different pathways. When consumed together, even a small dose of CBD when taken with THC enhances its medicinal effects and vice versa.
Pharmaceutical companies don’t yet seem to have a grip on why cannabis is a better medicine than anything produced in a lab. There are already a handful of synthetic THC-based medications on the market, like Marinol and Sativex. Marinol is a single synthetic cannabinoid that is meant to mimic the beneficial effects of THC. Unfortunately for the pharmaceutical companies, as is demonstrated by the Entourage Effect, doses of single cannabinoids fail to reproduce the medicinal benefits of marijuana or whole plant cannabis remedies.
Whole plant cannabis remedies were made famous by Rick Simpson. Simpson and his whole plant cure for cancer are frequently used by patients to reduce the size of tumors. According to Simpson, more than 5,000 people have been cured by his whole plant remedy. Simpson is adamant that it is the synergy of cannabinoids working together that is responsible. He believes that ridding the body of cancer and other ailments can only be achieved by ingesting oil made from whole cannabis plants, fan leaves, stems and all.
A recent study on whole plant remedies verified Simpson’s claims. Israeli researchers conducting studies on cannabinoids in mice found that when treating inflammation with CBD alone, the results were moderate. When they treated those same mice with CBD and a small dosage of THC, they found that the inflammation in the mice was reduced by a significant margin when compared to the control group. This re-affirmation of the Entourage Effect should have the pharmaceutical companies rethinking their strategy.
The debate over whether or not cannabis holds medicinal properties has lost relevance in recent years as the science behind marijuana becomes more clear. Researchers for the most part agree that cannabinoids hold the keys to uncovering cures that have always eluded us. Now that the science backs what the cannabis community been saying for years, the real focus should be on coming to understand how individual cannabinoids enhance each other, and trusting that information to find cures for disease that until now have been beyond our reach.