Do terpenes increase this entourage effect or is this simply hype designed to sell more products?

A summary by Dr. Curtis Swift, Mesa Lavender Farms


Providers of CBD products often talk about the entourage (or synergistic) effect where the combination of cannabinoids found in full-spectrum products increases the effectiveness above what one cannabinoid alone would provide. Entourage, therefore, is the proposed idea that the use of the whole plant cannabinoids provides substantially greater benefits than the sum of the individual parts.

The same cannot, however, be said of the terpenes produced by Cannabis. There is no scientific evidence showing terpenes increase the effectiveness of cannabinoids even though various companies promote the benefits of these volatile organic compounds in their products.


Full-spectrum products contain several different cannabinoids such as THC, CBD, CBG, CBN, CBDV, CBDA, etc. There have been over 120 different cannabinoids currently identified with many being in very minute concentrations (Bonn-Miller, 2018). Cannabinoids directly activate cannabinoid receptor CB1 and cannabinoid receptor CB2producing a physiological response reducing depression, post-traumatic stress disorder, psychosis, pain, anxiety, etc.  These receptors make up the endocannabinoid system found in all animals.

Carlini et al. (1974) provided an early example of the entourage/synergistic effect of the various cannabinoids by demonstrating that 2 of 3 cannabis extracts, administered in multiple species, including humans, produced effects 2–4 times greater than what was observed after administration of pure THC at the same doses contained in the extracts. The two extracts with the entourage effect contained THC, CBD (cannabidiol), and CBN (cannabinol).

Pamlona, et al. (2018) reviewed research papers on the use of CBD-only and CBD-rich products on the treatment of epilepsy. Their review showed enhanced effectiveness (i.e a synergistic effect) when CBD-rich products were used to minimize seizures as compared to CBD-only products. It was also found lower dosage rates were needed for CBD-rich products when compared to purified CBD to reduce the frequency and severity of seizures.

Flavonoids and Terpenoids

Flavonoids are found in almost all fruits and vegetables and are responsible for vivid colors. These are powerful antioxidants with anti-inflammatory and immune system benefits.

The terpenoids (terpenes, diterpenes, and sesquiterpenes) are a class of volatile organic chemical compounds found in cannabis and all other plants. The smell of lemon is due to a terpene. With over 100 different terpenes in Cannabis, it is easy to accept the concept that different strains of cannabis tend toward a unique composition of terpenes providing different scents to the different chemovars[i] of cannabis.

As with the terpenes found in lavender, the terpenes in cannabis can promote relaxation and stress-relief. This is in part due to linalool, the same terpene found in lavender. Linalyl acetate, another terpene found in both lavender and cannabis, promotes relaxation and a better mood when inhaled.  Terpenes form the basis of the aromatherapy industry.

The entourage effect is said by some to result due in part to the terpenes in their formulations. While not all terpenes have been examined, research by Santiago, et al., (2019) found this belief is not necessarily correct. Russo in 2018, said, “Scientific evidence for cannabinoid–terpenoid interactions is essentially absent, and mostly comes from websites and dispensaries extolling the virtues of proprietary Cannabis chemical varieties, or chemovars”.

In 2008 Jürg Gertsch did report β-caryophyllene’s in Cannabis was able to bind to the CB2 receptor and described it as “a dietary cannabinoid.” While the presence of cannabis terpenes is said to enhance the entourage effect of cannabinoids this has not been verified other than with β-caryophyllene.

Santiago, et al., in 2019 examined six common terpenoids alone, and in combination with cannabinoid receptor agonists[ii], on CB1 and CB2. None of the six of the most common terpenoids in Cannabis, α-Pinene, β-pinene, β-caryophyllene, linalool, limonene, and β-myrcene, were found to directly activate CB1 or CB2. Note this research contradicts Gertsch 2008 research finding with β-caryophyllene.

What does Mesa Lavender Farms offer?

We have two versions of CBD tincture created from either a full-spectrum CBD distillate or CBD isolate. The full-spectrum formulations provide the entourage effect described in the first two paragraphs of this blog. The CBD isolate formulations currently available are designed for those subjected to drug tests in their current jobs. We have added the terpenes of Lavender and Lemon to several of these formulations for the antiseptic and antioxidant benefits these compounds provide.  You can find more about our CBD products at

References used:
Bonn-Miller, et al., 2018. Cannabis and Cannabinoid Drug Development: Evaluating Botanical Versus Single-Molecule Approaches.
Carlini, et al. 1974. Effects of marihuana in laboratory animals and in man, British Journal of Pharmacology, 50: 299–309.
Gertsch, J. et al. 2008. Beta-caryophyllene is a dietary cannabinoid.
Pamplona, F.A. et al. 2018. Potential clinical benefits of CBD-rich Cannabis extracts over purified CBD in treatment-resistant epilepsy: Observational data meta-analysis.
Russo EB. 2011. Taming THC: potential cannabis synergy and phytocannabinoid-terpenoid entourage effects. 
Russo, EB. 2019. The Case for the Entourage Effect and Conventional Breeding of Clinical Cannabis: No “Strain,” No Gain.
Santiago, et al. 2019. Absence of Entourage: Terpenoids Commonly Found in Cannabis sativa Do Not Modulate the Functional Activity of Δ9-THC at Human CB1 and CB2 Receptors.
[i] Chemovar or chemotype refers to the chemical composition of the volatile organic compounds (terpenoids) in the plant. For example, different chemovars of Geranium contain different terpenes and thus smell differently.
[ii] An Agonist is a compound that activates a receptor.