A Brief History of Cannabidiol (CBD)

We can date the use of hemp and cannabis plant extracts as early as 3000 BC, where Chinese texts described it as being useful for pain relief.

It is reported that Queen Victoria even used CBD for menstrual cramps in the 19th century! Back then, hemp was widely cultivated in England. So when colonists left England for America, they, of course, brought hemp with them.

For early American settlers, hemp was a staple used for many purposes. It was even used to make rope! 

Did you know that the United States Constitution was drafted on hemp paper?

The Discovery of Cannabinoids

In 1940, British chemist Robert S. Cahn identified the structure of a cannabinoid now known as Cannabinol (CBD), marking the first discovery of an individual cannabinoid!

Two years later, in 1942, American chemist, Roger Adams, made history when he discovered Cannabidiol (CBD). Building from Adams's research, Israeli professor Raphael Mechoulam identified the stereochemistry of CBD in 1963. The following year, Mechoulam and his team identified the stereochemistry of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). 

Due to the ease of synthetic conversion and molecular similarity, CBD was initially thought to be a natural precursor to THC. However, research has determined that CBD and THC are produced independently of each other within the cannabis plant.

Early Research of Cannabinoid Pharmacology

Research into Cannabinoids pharmacology began in the 1940s, that was several decades after the presence of cannabinoids were first detected in cannabis.

Most cannabinoid pharmacology experiments in those days were carried out either with preparations of cannabinol (CBN), tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) or cannabidiol (CBD) extracted from cannabis. 

Among the first pharmacological observations made from these experiments were made by Loewe S. He noted that it was THC and synhexyl, not CBD, that induced catalepsy in mice. CBN caused catalepsy in mice but only at high doses that were also lethal, that THC and synhexyl had a central excitant action, particularly in rabbits and mice, and that THC and synhexyl but not CBN or CBD elicited corneal areflexia in rabbits. 

Around this time, Loewe also discovered that sleep induced in mice by an unnamed barbiturate can be prolonged by CBD, although not by higher doses of CBN or THC.

Cannabinoids Pharmacology research increased exponentially in the mid-1960s and early 1970s, but during these periods, scientists had a limited understanding of how cannabinoids are structured and had only a partial understanding of its biological composition within hemp.

Due to this lack of knowledge, early researchers could not determine which compound was responsible for causing which effect.

In the 1980s, Dr. Mechoulam and his team studied the potential applications of CBD for treating epilepsy.

Almost immediately after Mecholan's research, interest in the therapeutic applications of cannabinoids revealed even more cannabinoids, a deepened understanding of how cannabinoids are structured, and the surprising discovery of the Endocannabinoid System, which is  a network of receptors found in the human body that interact with cannabinoids.

The Rise of CBD in the USA

California legalized medical marijuana in 1996; after this, some other states have followed suit; Washington, Alaska, Colorado, Nevada.

Patients in these states already have access to cannabis, so researchers have been able to expand their studies into cannabinoid medical uses.

Epidiolex, an antiseizure drug made available in 2018, is the only prescription medication containing CBD as of this article.

United States sales of CBD-containing products have been increasing, and industry watchers expect a sizeable growing market in the years to come. 

Two decades ago, an interesting phenomenon began to occur. People who used cannabis began sharing their personal experiences with one another, how cannabis has increased their quality of life. This evolution has supported a movement, awareness, and a passion fueled by countless experiences, which continues to push the CBD movement forward today. 

How CBD is Used Today

CBD products are widely used today; CBD oil has been shown to help treat a wide variety of symptoms from common ailments to severe chronic disease. Some of these include:

Modern research has found that treating IBS with CBD is effective because CBD acts as an anti-inflammatory agent, but it doesn't end there. This research has also revealed therapeutic applications for CBD in patients with PTSD

It is no wonder that you can now find CBD for sale online and in stores all over the United States, including convenience stores and major retailers like 711, CVS, Sephora, and Neiman Marcus.

Are you thinking of using CBD oil to treat a health condition, but aren't sure if it is right for you?

Please make sure to consult your healthcare provider first to discuss whether it's appropriate for you because CBD oil products are mostly unregulated. 

NOTE: There's no guarantee that any given product contains a safe or adequate level of CBD.

The Future of CBD and Hemp

More research into how cannabis works with the ECS will determine how widely used this cannabinoid is versus other cannabinoids, but the incredible thing is that people are waking up to this movement, as thousands of people begin using cannabis for the first time, every day!

Because hemp research has been decriminalized, we will start seeing more everyday products containing this plant. Linens, paper, and other commodities will become available as the world moves toward a more sustainable era. 

There are even plans for 3D-printed homes made from "hempcrete" in our future. It is definitely an exciting time in the history of cannabis.


I hope this article has inspired you to learn more about CBD and to become more involved with this tremendous movement to heal the world with cannabis.

If you would like to learn more about how CBD can enrich your life, consider reading any of the other articles we have on this site. We make sure to include a ton of referenced materials for you, so you have the most accurate information on the topic.

About the Author Jessica Jones

Jesse has spent most of her adult life struggling with anxiety. After studying neuroscience at University, she has since dedicated her life into researching the effects of CBD on the human body. The content on this website reflects her research.

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