The entourage effect is a phenomenon most often discussed in the field of medical cannabis. The term refers to the synergistic interaction of two or more different molecules when those molecules are co-administered, such as upon consuming a natural extract or an engineered formulation of components. However, anecdotal and experimental evidence exists showing that the entourage effect is also at work with the compounds found in magic mushrooms and the secretions of some species of toads. One study from 2009 published in Bioscience, Biotechnology, and Biochemistry presents data supporting the entourage effect in magic mushrooms. Specifically, scientists studied the effects of pure psilocybin versus an extract from magic mushrooms on a mouse model of obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).1
Marble-burying behavior (MBB) in mice and rats is used as an animal model for the study of OCD. The accuracy of the model has faced some criticism in the scientific world. This is primarily because OCD and generalized anxiety disorder have symptoms that overlap and the causes of these conditions are unknown. As a result, it can be difficult to determine which condition the treatment is affecting. Researchers and other experts in the area of OCD believe that at a high level, some of the results from MBB studies are relevant to understanding OCD.2 However, they caution that MBB may not be useful when it comes down to evaluating the effectiveness of anti-compulsive drugs.
Psilocybin Mushroom Extract is More Effective Than Psilocybin Alone
In this study, the research team compared the effects of an extract from Psilocybe argentipes to pure psilocybin using MBB and 5-week old male mice. The results of the study showed that the same dose of the mushroom extract and pure psilocybin were effective in reducing marble-burying behavior. But even more interesting was the finding that the psilocybin mushroom extract was more effective at the same dose in reducing the behavior than pure psilocybin alone. A dose of 0.1 to 1.0 g/kg was significant in reducing the number of buried marbles without affecting the overall locomotor activity of the mice.
Also of interest is that the data for P. argentipes showed an inverted bell curve for the relationship between the dose level and the number of marbles the mice buried. The authors note that this is an unusual result. Many chemicals show a proportional relationship in the marble-burying test, meaning higher doses reduce the number of marbles buried as well as the locomotor activity of the mice. The authors sum up the overall study results by saying:
These findings suggest that inhibition of marble-buring behavior by P. argentipes is due to the involvement of a variety of psychoactive substances.1
The Importance of the Entourage Effect
When it comes to studying magic mushroom compounds, the majority of researchers are focusing on psilocybin and psilocin. Of course, these two compounds are important to the psychedelic mushroom experience and are worthy of study and understanding them. However, the entourage effect dictates the overall outcome —how all the active compounds in magic mushrooms work together and with receptors to produce the effect for the user. The few scientific studies, such as this one, offer a brief and tantalizing glimpse into the impact of the entourage effect on psychedelic drug therapy. The entourage effect offers a wide-open area of study for the curious researcher.