The Entourage Effect

The terpenes and cannabinoids in each strain can be tricky to decipher and make meaning of. The Novel Tree Medical’s Matt Kovarsky discusses the entourage effect through the various constituents of one of his favorite strains, Frida.

The entourage effect of cannabis is described as the active compounds, cannabinoids and terpenes, being more effective together than any one of the compounds isolated on their own. Another way to say it would be “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts”.

I think the best way to understand the entourage effect is to look at the cannabinoid and terpene profile of one of my favorite strains, Frida from Raven Grass. Frida is a cross of AC/DC and DJ Shorts Whitaker Blues. It typically has a 2:1 CBD to THC ratio, making it strong enough to be effective for pain relief and enjoyable, but not too strong where it is intoxicating.  The Co2-extracted concentrate is one of my favorite things for the end of the day. Calming, relaxing, without being sedating, and unlike many other cannabis strains can help with focus. 


Washington state grower Raven tests each strain they ship for terpene content, essentially creating a profile that dispensaries and consumers can use to learn more about a given batch.

Washington state grower Raven tests each strain they ship for terpene content, essentially creating a profile that dispensaries and consumers can use to learn more about a given batch.

The following is the terpene breakdown on the most recent batch of Frida Co2 concentrate. I don’t love Frida because of any one thing that is found in it, but because of the blend of everything that’s in it and how they work together to balance each other out. 

Beta Caryophyllene

Found in cinnamon, basil, and clove. This sesquiterpene binds with CB2 receptors, the same receptor CBD interacts with. CB2 receptors are found throughout the immune system and regulate the nervous system and immune function. The powerful anti-inflammatory benefits of beta caryophyllene make it a great terpene to look for pain relief.

Isopulegol

This precursor to menthol provides a minty-fresh smell and taste. Shown in lab studies to have anxiolytic (anti-anxiety), gastroprotective and anti-convulsant benefits. This is a great example of why there needs to be further testing on different cannabis plants with different cannabinoid and terpene profiles. A cannabis preparation with this terpene may be significantly more beneficial for some than a product without it. 

Beta Myrcene

A monoterpene also found in cardamom and hops. One of the most common terpenes found in cannabis, this is commonly associated with the sedating couch-lock effects of many cannabis strains. With potential anti-inflammatory benefits, pain relieving benefits and sedative effects, a product high in myrcene could be beneficial for evenings before bed.

Nerolidol

Common in cannabis plants with a woody. earhty aroma. The plant produces nerolidol for its antifungal properties, in lab studies on mice it was shown to have sedative effects.

Limonene

Very common in all citrus, the plant produces it for its antibacterial and antifungal properties. For us there seems to be potential anti-anxiety benefits, and depression relief. 

Humelene

Another terpene found in Hops, basil and clove and has earthy Woody notes. If you get bad munchies then you may want to look for something with humelene as it may suppress hunger.

Linalool

Plants containing linalool have been used for centuries for their calming and relaxing benefits. Another potentially sedating terpene, this is another one to look for in the evenings. A study showed that cannabis with linalool was more effective at reducing seizures than perpetrations without linalool.

A table of the 5 most common terpenes found in cannabis and their therapeutic effects. No terpene is exclusive to cannabis, they are found all throughout the plant world. They function in many cases as a defense mechanism or immune system for a given species.

A table of the 5 most common terpenes found in cannabis and their therapeutic effects. No terpene is exclusive to cannabis, they are found all throughout the plant world. They function in many cases as a defense mechanism or immune system for a given species.

Cymene

Also found in cumin and thyme, produced by a plant for its antimicrobial and antifungal purposes. For humans, there seems to be pain relieving benefits. It also acts as an AchE inhibitor. It inhibits the breakdown of acetylcholine which can help with memory, attention, and motivation. Clearly something beneficial to have in cannabis, and even in small amounts can help to balance out some of the more sedating effects of other terpenes.

Pinene

Also found in conifer trees, rosemary, and as the name suggests pine needles. In the 1800’s cannabis cigarettes were recommended for asthma as pinene can act as a bronchodilator. Another AchE inhibitor, sometimes small amounts of pinene will be more beneficial than large amounts. Large amounts might lead to the anxiety and paranoia certain cannabis strains can cause. In a strain like Frida, the small amount of pinene can help to balance the sedating qualities of some of the other terpenes.

The balance of terpenes and the 2:1 ratio of CBD to THC make the Frida strain one of the most enjoyable and beneficial cannabis strains on the market in my eyes. Whether in pre-rolls, vape cartridges, or a dab-able oil, it’s something that I always have on hand.

By Matt Kovarsky