Jane cultivates her unique strains of cannabis on the same quarter acre of river bed that her family has held for generations in the southern region of Humboldt County. Called dry farming, this special area requires no water or fertilizers as the sandy loam deposited here by the river is naturally rich in nutrients and provides a purified water table easily reached by the roots of her flowering plants.
Not long ago, Forbes magazine estimated that more than 30,000 farmers like Jane tended cannabis in the remote hills and river beds of the Emerald Triangle. Today, less than 10% of these legacy farmers remain, many pushed out of this generational business because of the rippling effects of legalized weed in California.
The surviving farmers, like Jane, maintain cultivation techniques that combine previous generations’ knowledge with new science and technologies. For Jane, this means years of experience and training at a university level.
What she counts on most to grow the best weed on the planet are the most basic and most prized aspects of Humboldt County – the sun, the air, and the soil. Jane firmly believes that growing cannabis from seed in native soil to full term under the Humboldt sun makes her flower special. With this dedication to cultivation, Jane’s cannabis contains the full spectrum quality sought by more and more of today’s consumers.
And so it is here on Jane’s 10,000 square foot farm that we can begin to understand this idea of the “Entourage Effect” that is becoming a defining point in artisanal cannabis.
What Is the Entourage Effect?
There’s this idea that your cannabis experience can be enhanced by the hundreds – if not thousands – of remarkable chemicals naturally found in the plant. Is this true? And if so, what does it mean, and how can we harness it?
Certainly, many weed aficionados believe there is more to your cannabis high than THC alone. But cannabis has been an illegal drug for decades, and only recently are we beginning to understand the vast potential of this incredible plant.
Of course, the cannabinoid THC is still thought to be the primary psychoactive agent in weed. But it’s not the only one. There are a host of other cannabinoids capable of affecting our mental and physical states as well.
There are over 150 cannabinoids found in cannabis, yet many of them are so minor they won’t show up on a lab test. Still, there are several cannabinoids found in many strains that work together to provide their unique effects.
- THC (Tetrahydrocannabinol)
- CBD (Cannabidiol)
- CBN (Cannabinol)
- CBC (Cannabichromene)
- CBG (Cannabigerol)
- THCA (Tetrahydrocannabolic acid)
- CBDA (Cannabidiolic acid)
- THCV (Tetrahydrocannabivarin)
- CBDV (Cannabidivarin)
As soon as you begin to separate one cannabinoid from another, they become less effective. The magic happens when they remain together, just as they formed together in the plant. Yet, the magic of the Entourage Effect is not all about cannabinoids.
And then there are terpenes. Do you know that distinct aroma from a freshly lit joint? Yep, those are terpenes. They are responsible for how weed smells and tastes and work in harmony with cannabinoids. On their own, terpenes offer a host of therapeutic, feel-good benefits. If you’ve ever heard of aromatherapy, you might be familiar with this concept. We use lavender to relax, and citrus to feel uplifted.
It’s not so much the lavender that offers calming effects, but its primary terpene – Linalool. The Limonene in citrus fruits has an invigorating, refreshing effect. These terpenes are found throughout the plant kingdom (along with dozens more), and it’s no surprise that they are also quite prevalent in cannabis.
Most Common Cannabis Terpenes:
This is nowhere near a complete list, as many terpenes – like cannabinoids – are found in very small quantities. They mesh and mingle to create distinct flavor profiles and work alongside cannabinoids to amplify, elevate, and honor their properties. Terpenes are the unsung heroes of the cannabis kingdom, working to benefit our body, mind, and mood.
In Perfect Harmony
As you may have surmised, the Entourage Effect is the culmination of all of cannabis’ unique compounds working in perfect harmony. The cannabinoids and terpenes are major players, but the flavonoids and other vital compounds are also in there playing a role.
For the most part, the Entourage Effect primarily refers to the idea that the cannabis plant has evolved to produce a natural mixture of cannabinoids, terpenes, flavonoids, and other compounds that act together in a complementary or synergistic manner when smoked or ingested to produce a mental and physical impact that cannot be achieved by THC alone.
The Endocannabinoid System
Though we refer to molecules like THC and CBD as cannabinoids, it’s short for ‘phytocannabinoids,’ meaning plant-derived. The human body also makes cannabinoids, and we call them endocannabinoids. So, if the human body makes cannabinoids, surely there must be a reason.
The endocannabinoid system (ECS) is a network of receptors found throughout the body. So far, we know of two main receptors. The CB1 receptors are located in the brain and spinal cord, and the CB2 receptors are found throughout the body’s soft tissues and immune system. We are already making cannabinoids that fit like locks and keys into these receptors.
The ECS governs several important bodily functions, regulating things like mood, appetite, sleep, digestion, motor function, hormones, and so much more. When we are out of harmony, our bodies make more cannabinoids. When we can’t make more, or find ourselves out of balance, we can supplement with cannabinoids from cannabis to get back to homeostasis.
For the last few decades, many researchers have argued that there is no such thing as an Entourage Effect. But the tide of evidence is turning against those entourage naysayers. Many have taken this finding to support theories that an evolutionary story is shared between cannabis and humans. The identification of these receptors and research on how they operate within the human nervous system has produced evidence that the Entourage Effect is, in fact, a real thing.
The Entourage Effect in Action
Researchers have demonstrated that some terpenes may interact with cannabinoid receptors and make them more receptive to interaction with the THC molecule. Other studies suggest compounds such as flavonoids and even chemicals found in the roots of cannabis plants can have an effect on how cannabinoids interact with the human body.
Perhaps the takeaway is that there is some real merit in a more holistic and natural approach to cannabis consumption.
In fact, this is what full-spectrum cannabis is all about. Farmers and manufacturers committed to full-spectrum cannabis are working diligently to bring you the entire complement of chemicals and compounds in the proportions that nature created in the plant. By consuming these elements as nature indicated, you achieve a higher quality and perhaps healthier experience overall. In other words, you are experiencing the Entourage Effect.
How Do I Get It?
The best way to gain the advantage of the Entourage Effect is to buy weed grown by farmers like Jane.
The legal weed industry is in its infancy. Most of the weed that was produced 10 or more years ago was grown outdoors, under the sun, in the soil, and full term. Today, as cannabis growers strive to lower costs and increase production, most cannabis is being grown indoors and brought to maturity in little more than two months compared to six months outdoors. There is reason to believe that short, artificial grows may produce cannabis with less of the natural compounds of outdoor grows.
Other factors go into the virtue of being grown outdoors. Most indoor plants are grown from clones with short, underdeveloped rooting systems and planted not in soil but in substrates such as crushed coco shells. When grown from seed in the soil, the cannabis root grows much longer and is able to derive more nutrients from the soil and water, which in turn creates a richer array of terpenes and other substances in the plant.
By allowing the plant to grow to its full maturity naturally, we are allowing the plant to produce and accumulate the total natural balance of chemicals in their proper proportions.
At URSA Extracts, we believe we create some of the best cannabis concentrates on the planet because we have access to some of the best cannabis grown full-term under the sun by some of the finest artisan farmers in the world, such as Jane. Our URSA brand of concentrates is dedicated to bringing you the finest full spectrum cannabis, live resin, and live rosin available, made as the farmers and the plant intended.
There is much more research to be done on cannabis. We will be learning more and more for many decades to come. Cannabis is a complex and uniquely interesting plant that holds promise in medical, health, well-being, and simple recreational activities. Experience the full spectrum and see for yourself how the Entourage Effect feels.