Although the use of Cannabidiol (CBD) has only recently become widespread, it’s roots go back thousands of years towards the end of the first ice age. Archaeological findings suggest that the hemp plant where the CBD compound is found was one of the first agriculture crops planted by man just over 10,000 years ago and has been an integral part of mankind since then.
Cannabis plants are incredibly versatile and it has been found that the seeds and oil were used for food and textiles in China as early as 6,000 BC. Since then it’s influence has been global. In 850, the Vikings exported hemp rope and seeds to Iceland, and by the year 900, the Arabs were learning techniques for making paper from hemp. By 1000, the Italians were using ropes made of hemp on their sailing ships. The widespread usage of the plant over thousands of years ago actually contrasts today’s modern restrictions of growing the plant, whereby King Henry VIII actually fined British farmers if they did not grow hemp for industrial use in 1533. 100 years later in America, it also became illegal to not grow hemp in certain cities like Jamestown in Virginia.
The first documented use of medicine derived from the hemp plant also dates back to 2737 BC in China when the Chinese Emperor, Sheng Nung, used a cannabis infused tea to help with a variety of illnesses including malaria and rheumatism.
By 1850, as the medicinal properties started being recognised in the Western world, the U.S. Pharmacopeia, a respected compendium of Medicines and Dietary Supplements added Cannabis to it’s list and that same year, marijuana was used widely throughout the United States as a medicinal drug. It was easily purchasable in pharmacies and general stores until 1915 before it started being removed from the shelves. In 1950, growing Cannabis Sativa, even for industrial hemp purposes, became prohibited in the United States and the UK.
Until 1940 however, CBD was still an unknown extract of the plant and it was in this year that a Harvard chemist, Roger Adams, first successfully extracted the CBD compound by accident. Soon after his discovery, Adams and other scientists started testing CBD on lab animals, and it was proven that CBD, unlike marijuana, does not cause an altered mental state and has therapeutic properties.
In 1946, Dr Raphael Mechoulam identified CBD’s three dimensional structure and he became credited as the scientist who first discovered CBD. In the next few decades, research continued and British pharmacologists became the first to release CBD oil for therapeutic use. In 1980, Dr Mechoulam made another breakthrough in CBD history when he ran studies proving that cannabidiol could be key in treating epilepsy.
Since then, the explosion of interest and ban of hemp and CBD, has triggered farmers and advocates across the world to lobby for restoring the legal status of hemp as an agricultural crop in the USA. In 2019, congress finally legalised hemp with the 2018 Farm Bill opening a market that experts will predict will reach $22 billion by 2022.
Because of it’s changing legal status, scientists still have a long way to go to prove the full spectrum of benefits from CBD. For now, preliminary research reveals that CBD can be beneficial for treating a myriad of ailments from arthritis to insomnia, inflammation, diabetes and many other illnesses. It also has been understood to work very harmoniously with our endocannabinoid system (ECS), healing, nourishing and rebalancing the ECS and homeostasis.
While the perception towards CBD has progressed dramatically over the last century, it is still not fully normalised globally. There are still many who oppose CBD and other cannabis-derived compounds, and many more who are not aware of the plant’s healing benefits. With more players entering the market daily, the CBD and wellness community have shown that they are determined for CBD to reach its full potential and change the lives of as many people as possible.
Disclaimer: This post is intended for informational purposes only and not intended to serve as professional medical advice. Please consult your doctor and listen to your body on what works for you.