Pharmacologists at the University of Sydney have found clues which could help solve the riddle of the entourage effect — why low-dose CBD products containing a full-spectrum of cannabinoids seem to have therapeutic impacts at relatively low doses.
The study, published in Scientific Reports, found that cannabinoids in a cannabis extract interact to produce much higher concentrations of cannabidiolic acid (CBDA) in the bloodstream than when CBDA is administered alone as a single molecule.
When administered orally to mice, the cannabis extract delivered 14-times higher CBDA concentrations in the bloodstream.
Lambert Initiative for Cannabinoid Therapeutics Associate Professor Jonathan Arnold said the study shows how this works pharmacologically for the first time.
“Hemp extracts provide a natural vehicle to increase the absorption of CBDA into the bloodstream via the interaction of cannabinoids at specific transport proteins in the gut,” he said.
“The entourage hypothesis holds that cannabis constituents interact to engender greater effects, but there is little scientific evidence to support such an assertion. Our study shows that different cannabinoids interact to alter plasma levels of cannabinoids themselves due to what we call a ‘pharmacokinetic entourage’ effect.”
Lead author of the study Dr Lyndsey Anderson said the results suggest CBDA might play a greater role in the effects of low-dose CBD products than previously thought.
“Our own pre-clinical studies show CBDA reduces anxiety and seizures. This result provides us with a pathway to explore why some cannabis extracts yield pharmacological effects in humans at lower doses.”
While results show low-dose CBD products appear to reduce anxiety and are anticonvulsant agents against seizure, it remains unclear how they produce these results.
The team at Lambert will continue to research how this ‘pharmacokinetic entourage effect’ might lead to observed therapeutic outcomes for cannabinoids in people.