The Discovery and History of CBD

CBD is a growing industry around the world since its legalization in many countries.  Its importance is due to its medicinal properties. CBD flower is used for the treatment of various diseases and illnesses. 

Most cannabis products on the market have some content of CBD, which is cannabidiol. It has therapeutic properties which have brought forth a revolution in medicine. 

Discovery of CBD

Cannabis and Hemp are among the earliest crops harvested by human beings. Its usage has been discovered to date back to 5000 years ago. The earliest uses were for the purpose of nutrition and treatment of illnesses. 

CBD was documented in China for the first time as a medicine in 2736 BC. The people there used cannabis tea to treat menstrual cramps, malaria,  rheumatism,  and memory loss. 

The evidence of the use of cannabis is also reported in ancient Hinduism, ancient Greece, and the Roman Empire. The Romans cured depression, arthritis, pain, and inflammation through CBD. 

History also tells us that Queen Victoria of England used cannabis to cure her menstrual pain during her rule. Cannabis as medicine was brought into the western world by W.B.O’Shaughnessy, an Irish researcher and doctor. He was introduced to cannabis in India when he was working for the East India Company. 

Many years later, T.A.Henry and W.R.Dunstan researched and acquired phytocannabinoid, which they called cannabinol or CBN. But it wasn’t until 1940 when Robert Cahn from Britain identified the chemical structure of cannabinol.

CBD’s History


A groundbreaking discovery was made in the year 1940 by Roger Adams and Alexander Todd. These two chemists were successful in isolating cannabidiol from cannabinoids. But these chemists didn’t know the full implications of their discovery and the benefits of CBD.


The medicinal properties of CBD were first tested by Dr. Walter S Loewe in 1946. He did some tests on lab animals. His tests proved that CBD did not alter the mental state of its consumer. His tests also revealed the treatment potential present in CBD. 

1963/ 1964

Dr. Mechoulam successfully discovered the stereochemistry of CBD in 1963, which was a second groundbreaking discovery. He again researched the stereochemistry of tetrahydrocannabinol, also known as THC, and was able to separate THC from the cannabinoid plant. This discovery clarified that CBD was non-toxic and did not have any contribution in stoning the consumer.


The US government declared cannabis as an abusive drug with no medicinal property. The use of this drug was made illegal. The government introduced the Controlled Substance Act, which enlisted cannabis as an unlawful drug with a high potential of abuse. After this act, cannabis was stigmatized, due to which its research was also interrupted.


In 1978, the state of New Mexico initiated the ‘Controlled Substance Therapeutic Research Act.’ This Act was a charter that gave legal status to cannabis. It opened doors for more research on the medicinal properties of the plant. 


Dr. Mechoulam, along with his associates, administered a study in 1980 on the potential benefits and application of cannabis for the treatment and cure of epilepsy. They conducted various tests and even experimented on eight individuals to whom they delivered a daily dosage of 300 mg of cannabis. 

Their experiments proved successful, and 4 out of eight participants got rid of their seizures entirely, while the other four experienced a significant decrease in their seizures. This was the most groundbreaking find as it increased the importance of CBD. Through this revelation, the lives of over 50 million victims of epilepsy improved all around the world. 


In 1988, an American biochemist identified the ECS (Endocannabinoid System) through experiments on rats. He discovered the presence of receptors interacting with the CBD. This study further helped to comprehend the psychological effects of cannabinoids. 


After the discovery of the therapeutic effects of CBD on human health and the identification of ECS, the US couldn’t stigmatize cannabis anymore, and a bill was passed in the State of California legalizing cannabis. This charter was called Compassionate Use Act. After California, other states of the US followed suit, and CBD acquired legal status. Some of the earliest states to legalize CBD are Washington, Alaska, Oregon, Hawaii, Colorado, Maine, etc.

This legalization made it easier for patients suffering from epilepsy, chronic pains, and other diseases to get CBD for their treatment. 


Even after obtaining legal status in many states, people still believed it to be harmful, addictive, and dangerous. They had misconceptions that it was a gateway to drug addiction. There was an attitude shift later on in 2000 when people benefitting from the plant shared their stories. There was a movement started by R Simpson, who got cured of skin cancer by using CBD. Cannabis also helped people suffering from insomnia, anxiety, and depression, among many other physical diseases such as arthritis. 


The real turn of the event took place in 2010 when Charlotte Figi, suffering from chronic epilepsy called Dravet Syndrome, showed signs of exceptional improvement after the consumption of CBD. Charlotte’s story of recovery turned the public perception towards cannabis, and people were ready to accept its medicinal benefits, which opened doors to many other discoveries.

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