The History of CBD: A Brief Overview
While decades of cannabis prohibition may lead to the basic assumption that the therapeutic benefits of CBD are a recent discovery, that is far from the truth.
The first documented use of cannabis-derived medicine dates back to 2737 BC when Chinese Emperor Sheng Nung used a cannabis-infused tea to aid with a variety of ailments including memory, malaria, rheumatism, and gout.
Queen Victoria is believed to have used CBD to alleviate menstrual cramps during her reign, which ended in 1901.
Throughout history, cannabis had served as a valuable therapeutic resource; however, during the rise of modern medicine, it was not recognised by most in the medical community due to a lack of scientific evidence.
It wasn't until 1839, when Irish physician and medical researcher, William B. O'Shaughnessy, published a study which investigated the plant's therapeutic effects, that researchers did begin to consider the medical applications of cannabis.
In his study, which was quite controversial, O'Shaughnessy explored the rudimentary effects of cannabis and thoroughly described its potential medical applications, particularly as an aesthetic.
While the Irish researcher may not have realised it then, he had just opened the door towards the discovery of the compounds that would one day be referred to as cannabinoids.
The Early Discovery of Cannabinoids
Nearly a century after O'Shaughnessy published his study, advancements in research and technology revealed the presence of compounds within the cannabis plant.
The first discovery of an individual cannabinoid was made, when British chemist Robert S. Cahn reported the partial structure of Cannabinol (CBN), which he later identified as fully formed in 1940.
Two years later, American chemist, Roger Adams, made history when he successfully isolated the first cannabinoid, Cannabidiol (CBD). His research is also responsible for the discovery of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).
Early Research of Cannabinoid Pharmacology
During the early stages of cannabis research, scientists had limited knowledge of cannabinoid structure and only partial understanding of the biological composition contained within the plant.
Dr. Raphael Mecholaum made the first breakthrough and discovered the stereochemistry of THC, which revealed the cannabinoids direct relationship to the euphoric effects associated with marijuana use, and disassociated CBD as a mind-altering compound.
As research advanced, a landmark victory occurred, when New Mexico passed the 1978 Controlled Substances Therapeutic Research Act, a bill which legally recognised the medicinal value of cannabis.
The momentum continued during the 1980s as Dr. Mechoulam and his team conducted a study on the potential application of CBD for the treatment of epilepsy as a hypnotic.
In the study, Mechoulam and his team administered daily doses of 300mg of CBD to study a group of 8 subjects. After just four months of treatment, half of the subjects stopped having seizures and the others exhibited a decrease in the frequency of their seizures.
This was a huge breakthrough that had the potential to change the lives of more than 50 million epilepsy sufferers from around the world.
Unfortunately, the discovery was not as publicised as any type of breakthrough, due to stigmas toward cannabis during that time.
The work of Dr. Mechoulam and the other early cannabis pioneers would not go in vain though.
Less than a decade later, interest in the therapeutic applications of cannabinoids revealed the discovery of additional cannabinoids, further understanding of cannabinoid structure, and the amazing breakthrough of our body's Endocannabinoid System (ECS) - a network of receptors that interact with receptors found in cannabinoids.
As research progressed, it would eventually lead to an explosion of interest across the United States.
CBD in the US Today
In the years following, the stigma towards CBD and cannabis in America has dramatically changed.
Those that once opposed cannabis, now turn to CBD for relief, and its therapeutic properties are helping to change the lives of thousands of people around the country.
While the movement has made massive strides forward, we are still just in the early stages. It continues to thrive at exponential rates and is literally achieving the impossible.
Here are just a few of the landmark events that have occurred:
- There has been a massive growth of awareness and surge in the retail sales of CBD, leading analyst to predict that the CBD market could reach a value of $22 billion by 2022
- Research has revealed even more therapeutic applications of CBD
- Hemp-derived CBD was federally legalized under the 2018 Farm Bill
- The FDA approved of a CBD-based oral solution called Epidolex
- CBD products are now being sold online in stores across the country, including major retailers like 711, Sephora, and Neiman Marcus.
We hope that this brief guide into the History of CBD has helped to inform you about the rich history.
Cannabis compounds like CBD have the potential to impacts the lives of millions of people, and with continued effort from all of us, it can change truly the world!