First described in 1998 by Israeli scientists Shimon Ben-Shabat and Raphael Mechoulam, the basic idea of the entourage effect is that cannabinoids within the cannabis plant work together, or possess synergy, and affect the body in a mechanism similar to the body’s own endocannabinoid system.
This theory serves as the foundation for a relatively controversial idea within pharmacology community, that in certain cases whole plant extractions serve as better therapeutic agents than individual cannabinoid extractions. The entourage effect theory has been expanded in recent times by Wagner and Ulrich-Merzenich, who define the four basic mechanisms of whole plant extract synergy as follows:
- Ability to affect multiple targets within the body
- Ability to improve the absorption of active ingredients
- Ability to overcome bacterial defense mechanisms
- Ability to minimize adverse side effects.