The “entourage” effect has been a popular, if loosely understood buzzword among cannabis consumers for a long while. Essentially, the entourage effect is the idea that the effects of cannabis are maximized when all of its chemicals and compounds are consumed together, allowing them to interact in all the ways scientists are just beginning to piece together.
Hence the growing popularity of cannabis products containing both CBD and THC, along with whole plant extracts and live resins designed to deliver more of cannabis’ many terpenes and cannabinoids. It’s an approach to consuming cannabis that contrasts with another recent trend: the drive toward more potent concentrates and isolates containing as much THC and as little everything else as possible.
But a new study from researchers in Canada suggests that instead of super-potent THC concentrates, CBD and THC in combination may produce the best high. According to the study, published this week in The Journal of Neuroscience, CBD actually prevents the negative side effects of THC. CBD, in other words, can round the edges on a high that’s too intense, without detracting from the euphoric experience.
CBD and THC Combined Could Be The Perfect High, Study Suggests
Without solid research into the effects of cannabis on the human brain and body, we’ve had to rely on sharing personal experiences to make sense of everything that happens when we get high. For a long time, cannabis consumers have described CBD as something that “counteracts” THC. There’s a feeling that consuming CBD reduces the intensity of a high, maybe makes you less high, or helps you come down. It was simple arithmetic: CBD isn’t psychoactive and THC is, so consuming CBD would naturally have a kind of “diluting” effect on THC.
The new study out of the University of Western Ontario shows how those sensations and hypotheses aren’t too far off. In fact, researchers concluded that CBD does indeed interact with the same neurological pathways THC does. And it interacts with those pathways in a way that blocks certain effects of THC.
Those effects are ones that someone who enjoys cannabis might consider unwanted side-effects: anxiety, paranoia, stress, social aversion. In short, everything you might smoke weed to avoid. Researchers have shown that THC, especially in high doses, can trigger these negative side effects. Scientists still too often call this cannabis-induced “psychosis,” even though there’s considerable evidence to challenge that theory. The fact remains, however, that getting too high can definitely trigger these psychological symptoms and abnormalities.
CBD Prevents THC from Making Your Brain Amplify Stressful Stimuli
But researchers are only beginning to figure out exactly what about THC triggers those negative side effects. At least in rats, anyway. According to Roger Hudson, one of the authors of the new University of Western Ontario study, THC sparks off a chain reaction of nerve signals in the brain that can run away into stress and anxiety. Hudson says THC ends up causing the brain to amplify environmental factors that cause stress and anxiety.
And that’s where CBD comes in. CBD doesn’t reduce the euphoric effects of THC. But it does block that signaling pathway from running out of control into stress and anxiety territory. In other words, CBD blocks the unwanted mental disturbances that a high dose of THC can cause, preventing abnormal functioning. “These findings identify a novel molecular mechanism that may account for how CBD functionally mitigates the neuropsychiatric side-effects of THC,” the study states.
The findings matter not just for recreational cannabis users but for medical patients as well. Since treating pain and other serious conditions often requires very high clinical doses of THC, combining those treatments with CBD can help patients avoid stress, anxiety and other unwanted side effects. And for recreational users, this study suggests that experimenting with products with different THC to CBD ratios could help refine your high, making it even better.