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The History of CBD (And Why You Should Care)

Although CBD may have just recently become a buzzword in the wellness world, it’s actually been around for thousands of years.

First, What is CBD?

CBD products seem to be popping up everywhere you look. CBD used to be taboo. But now it’s infused in drinks and chocolate, and available in lotions and skincare. Plus, you’re probably hearing talk of CBD’s potential health benefits everywhere from coffeehouses and bars to influencer’s social media accounts. But just because the conversation about CBD is hot right now doesn’t mean it’s something new. In fact, it may be one of the oldest natural remedies to treat health ailments.

Cannabidiol, also known as CBD, is a compound found naturally in cannabis. And yes, cannabis is a species of plants that includes marijuana and hemp. Humans have been growing cannabis for thousands of years. In fact, cultivation of cannabis goes back to almost 4,000 BC! Now let’s take a close look at the history of CBD and its use in medicine.

From Ancient Medicine to Today’s News

Early Chinese records show hemp was a primary crop. The first documented use of medicine derived from cannabis dates back to 2737 BC. At that time, Chinese Emperor Sheng Nung used a cannabis-infused tea for a number of health ailments including malaria, rheumatism, and gout.

Although this may be the first documented use of cannabis for medicinal purposes, it was certainly not the last. Therapeutic cannabis is present throughout history, though its popularity (and acceptance) ebbed and flowed within society.

Want to get a glimpse into how the current state of CBD has come to be? Here are some important dates in the history of cannabis and CBD:

History of CBD: 1500s-1970s

  • 1553 – Scientists began studying cannabis and its medical benefits.
  • 1839 – An Irish medical researcher named William B. O’Shaughnessy published a study that investigated the therapeutic effects of cannabis. Although controversial at the time, his study opened the door to further research into the plant’s effects on the body, and its potential medical applications. Following his findings, researchers began to more seriously consider therapeutic applications of cannabis.
  • 1940 – American chemist Roger Adams was the first person to isolate two cannabinoids – cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Although these cannabinoids were identified, scientists still had limited knowledge of their structure. Therefore, they could not accurately determine which compound was responsible for causing specific reactions in the human body.
  • 1963 – Israeli chemist Dr. Raphael Mechoulam shed light on the effects of individual cannabinoids and their structures. Shortly after, he discovered that THC played a role in the euphoric effects felt when using cannabis, and CBD did not.
  • 1970s – Limited research done throughout history on cannabis, CBD and THC, resulted in a lasting stigma surrounding cannabis. Marijuana was a common party drug in the ’70s. America waged its “War on Drugs,” thwarting more research on the subject.

CBD Research: 1980s-Now

  • 1980s – Dr. Mechoulam continued research CBD, studying its potential use for treating epilepsy. This was a huge breakthrough for epilepsy sufferers! However, his results weren’t widely publicized.
  • 1990s – Research identified the body’s endocannabinoid system (ECS). It also uncovered additional cannabinoids.
  • 1996 – California was the first state to legalize medical marijuana. Within a few years, other states also legalized medical use, which gave researchers the opportunity to expand their research. New studies looked into CBD’s effect on chronic pain, epilepsy, and a variety of neurodegenerative diseases.
  • Early 2000s – More people started speaking up about their experience with using CBD to treat health ailments. And the public started to take notice.
  • 2013 – A story about the impact of CBD on one little girl’s life, Charlotte Figi, sparked further interest into the medical uses of CBD. Charlotte suffered from a rare form of epilepsy, and her seizures dramatically decreased with the help of CBD oil. After sharing her story with the public, attitude toward cannabis and CBD began to dramatically change.
  • June 2018 – The first drug containing cannabis, Epidiolex, was approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for treating pediatric epilepsy. This drug helps children like Charlotte Figi who suffer from severe seizures.
  • December 2018 – Hemp was removed from the federal list of controlled substances. Then, the 2018 Farm Bill legalized commercial hemp production. The federal government also legalized CBD derived from hemp containing less than 0.3% THC. This spurred renewed interest in CBD research, resulting in numerous CBD products in the marketplace.
  • Today – Now, people across the world use CBD seeking relief from stress, anxiety, pain, sleep issues, and other ailments. Although, more research will help us better understand CBD’s impact and therapeutic benefits. However, results to date have been promising, with few side effects!

What this means for you

By decreasing the stigma around CBD, it opens the door for more research, better products, and more targeted treatments. The more we understand about CBD, the more therapeutic treatments we can develop! If you’ve been searching for natural remedies for things like anxiety, pain, or trouble sleeping, adding high-quality CBD to your wellness routine may help!

If you’re interested in trying CBD for yourself, it can be tricky to figure out what makes a “good” versus a “bad” CBD product. A good place to start is by enjoying CBD massage with a professional, certified massage therapist. Your therapist can talk to you about the specific benefits of CBD for wellness, and how to find the best quality CBD products for yourself.


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