Cannabis products, especially CBD (also known as cannabidiol) oil supplements, are all the rage in today’s health industry. It seems like science is making a new discovery about the benefits of CBD with every passing moment. What you may not know, however, is that some of these “new discoveries” are not new at all. In fact, our ancestors were using cannabis for all kinds of medicinal and non-medicinal purposes long ago. Yes, they even had their own means of taking advantage of the health properties of CBD, even without the modern process of extraction to produce CBD products without its sister compound THC. With the long-running history of cannabis and its many beneficial uses, it certainly seems to add to the credibility of the rediscovery of its medicinal effects. We may have smart phones, smart TV’s, and even smart cars, but evidently our early society knew a thing or two; our ancestors, in fact, were pretty smart themselves.
Early Use of Cannabis
The first ever recorded use of cannabis as a medication was in 2,737 BCE by the Chinese emperor Shen Neng. It was also prescribed by him to his people for treatment of gout, malaria, rheumatism, and poor memory. This launched the use of the plant for medicinal treatment, which began gaining popularity through Asia, and spreading to other places like Africa and the Middle East.
By late into the 18th century, England and America had caught on to using cannabis for the treatment of a variety of things. Early American medical journals suggested the use of hemp seeds and roots for relieving inflamed skin, as well as treating venereal diseases and incontinence. Further down the line, it was also used to ease pain in those suffering from rheumatism (Shen Neng was on to something, it seems), and relieving nausea that was commonly experienced with a lot of illnesses, such as cholera. Over the following decades, cannabis continued to be used in a variety of ways for its benefits. Though these uses and benefits varied periodically, some (like treating pain) seem to withstand the test of time.
Throughout the 1970’s, the British Pharmacopoeia kept officially listed a licensed cannabis tincture for medicinal use. The states also listed this cannabis tincture as medicinal until 1942, when it was phased out in favor of more modern medicine. A tincture is a medication produced by dissolving different things, typically plant-based materials, in an alcohol solution. This is one of the oldest forms of development of medication. While less common these days, a variety of tinctures are still used, including those derived from cannabis. Tinctures provide high bio-availability, as they are used by placing a small amount in the mouth beneath the tongue, where the liquid is quickly absorbed through the tissue. Also due to the quick absorption, tinctures are useful for acute, sudden ailments that are in need of fast treatment. It is believed that these tinctures used in the past contained a full spectrum CBD oil for its therapeutic benefits. Early uses for the cannabis tincture at this time were for nausea, a variety of pain, and sleeplessness, to name a few.
The Discovery of CBD
While the cannabis plant in its entirety has been used for a variety of purposes for far longer, as discussed above, it has also been a number of years since the CBD compound itself was isolated. In the year 1940, Roger Adams was the first to successfully separate CBD from the marijuana (like hemp, this is also cannabis) plant. Roger was a well-known organic chemist for the University of Illinois at the time, and spent several years of his career studying the chemical structure of the marijuana cannabis plant in a variety of forms (it was cannabis sativa that was used when he managed to isolate the cannabidiol compound). Even though he was the first to accomplish this, he didn’t exactly showcase his discovery, which kept the knowledge of it hidden for a number of years before other researchers realized what he had actually done.
Even though scientists that continued working with cannabinoids (the compounds in cannabis, like CBD and THC) didn’t know exactly what chemical structures they were using, they decided to have the first ever lab tests on animals using the compounds in 1946. With the application of one compound, they discovered that the mice had a sedative or trance-like reaction, while the other compounds tested did not produce such an effect. Of course, it was the notorious THC that had the sedative effect in the laboratory mice, but the researchers did not know this at the time. The compounds that lacked this effect were CBD and other variants, retroactively becoming the first indication that CBD has no psychoactive properties like its THC counterpart.
In the year 1963, scientist Raphael Mechoulam became the first to both isolate CBD and describe its chemical structure (this is what Adams failed to do when isolating the compound). In the following year (1964), Mechoulam did the same with the cannabinoid THC. Thanks to his work, science was able to distinctly see the differences between CBD and THC, thus being able to more thoroughly investigate the effects of each individual compound separately. By separating the compounds, scientists have been able to identify certain characteristics regarding CBD, like its lack of psychoactive effects, and its potential for reducing inflammation, for example. This is what has helped lead to many beliefs about the effectiveness of CBD for treating different conditions, and sparked the use of it as alternative medicine.
Making a Comeback
While modern medicines and therapies began to push natural treatment options more out of the picture, in 1978, New Mexico took a great leap for modern mankind and became the first US state to give legal recognition to cannabis as a medication. This was a crucial step in history that helped pave the way to the first full legalization of medicinal cannabis in the United States in the state of California in 1996, and a primary building block in the foundation of modern CBD use. (Check out some of the best CBD products out there today e.g. the premium CBD e liquid from uk.ma-time.com)