Mythbuster: Why THC Content Matters Less Than You Think
Noel Palmer, Ph.D., Chief Scientist, CBx Sciences & Evolab
While there are many products on the market that solely focus on the THC and CBD content, there is much more to an effective product than total cannabinoids.
Researchers have identified hundreds of compounds in cannabis. While we understand the primary effects of the most common cannabinoids and terpenes, we have not yet been able to explain precisely how these numerous components work together to produce different reactions. One common theory, the Entourage Effect, explains that some compounds that have minimal or no effect in isolation generate significant effects when combined with additional cannabinoids and terpenes. Put simply, the idea suggests that the beneficial impact of the whole plant is greater than the sum of its individual parts.
This may explain why whole plant cannabis is reported to be so effective in treating certain medical conditions, while formulations of isolated THC or CBD with no terpenes achieve less positive results - even at high doses. Evolab’s advanced technologies allow us to include the full, naturally occurring terpene and cannabinoid profile of the plants we use in every product so that our customers never miss out on the benefits of The Entourage Effect. When a product manufacturer focuses on maximizing THC content, their products will inevitably neglect the many other important components of the plant.
While THC is undoubtedly one of the most important and well studied cannabinoids, many researchers believe that pairing it with ratios of CBD, CBG, CBN and other cannabinoids and terpenes maximizes its effect. We’ve talked more about the potential medicinal value of CBG and CBN in previous posts.
While some users may want to ‘flood their system’ with cannabinoids, researchers including Dr. Dustin Sulak have long argued that precise, low dosing strategies may actually be more effective. Preclinical research supports this idea, suggesting that cannabinoids may up-regulate functioning of the endocannabinoid system at acute and lower doses via increased endocannabinoid production, cannabinoid receptor expression and cannabinoid receptor affinity, and also downregulate the endocannabinoid system’s function upon persistent agonism (e.g. long-term high doses) via membrane receptor endosome internalization. This phenomenon is referred to as a biphasic dose-response curve. Essentially, at a certain point, a higher dose becomes LESS effective, which has led to more and more users embracing the trend of ‘microdosing’ cannabis. Read more about microdosing in this blog from United Patients Group.
Moreover, some of the most significant side effects of high doses of THC often yield (potentially undesirable) side effects to the end user, such as feeling dizzy, sleepy and/or over-eating. Because cannabis therapeutics with THC and other cannabinoids have been shown to be active at low doses, many people seek products that fall in the category of ‘microdosing’.
Recognizing that cannabis medicine is inherently ‘herbal medicine,’ it follows that cannabis may potentially be used successfully in conjunction with other botanical ingredients for an optimized effect. We might consider this to be an ‘expanded entourage effect’ - where-as the therapeutic benefits of numerous herbs and medicines might be added to offer a final outcome that is more desirable. One should be thoughtful when looking at combining herbal ingredients with cannabis to make sure there are not going to be any medical interferences that might make someone’s condition worse. Evolab has worked to research this angle of herbal therapeutics to make sure any added herbal ingredients are compatible and safe.
Many Evolab and CBx Sciences formulations incorporate non-cannabis botanical ingredients. Some of these inputs, such as peppermint, may improve absorption and bioavailability, while others, such as ginseng, have been studied for centuries and have proven properties that may further benefit patients. Keep an eye out for new products offered by Evolab that are designed to couple cannabis with these traditional herbal ingredients in the months to come.