Decoding the Postulated Entourage Effect of Medicinal Cannabis: What It Is and What It Isn’t

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The ‘entourage effect’ term was originally coined in a pre-clinical study observing endogenous bio-inactive metabolites potentiating the activity of a bioactive endocannabinoid. As a hypothetical afterthought, this was proposed to hold general relevance to the usage of products based on Cannabis sativa L. The term was later juxtaposed to polypharmacy pertaining to full-spectrum medicinal Cannabis products exerting an overall higher effect than the single compounds. Since the emergence of the term, a discussion of its pharmacological foundation and relevance has been ongoing. Advocates suggest that the ‘entourage effect’ is the reason many patients experience an overall better effect from full-spectrum products. Critics state that the term is unfounded and used primarily for marketing purposes in the Cannabis industry. This scoping review aims to segregate the primary research claiming as well as disputing the existence of the ‘entourage effect’ from a pharmacological perspective. The literature on this topic is in its infancy. Existing pre-clinical and clinical studies are in general based on simplistic methodologies and show contradictory findings, with the clinical data mostly relying on anecdotal and real-world evidence. We propose that the ‘entourage effect’ is explained by traditional pharmacological terms pertaining to other plant-based medicinal products and polypharmacy in general (e.g., synergistic interactions and bioenhancement).

Original languageEnglish
Article number2323
Issue number8
Number of pages25
Publication statusPublished - 2023

Bibliographical note

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© 2023 by the authors.

    Research areas

  • active pharmaceutical ingredient, antagonism, bioenhancer, cannabinoids, drug–drug interaction, entourage effect, medicinal cannabis, polypharmacology, polypharmacy, synergy

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