Cannabidiol (known under the abbreviation CBD) is becoming more and more popular and meanwhile there are numerous studies dealing with the special active substance of the hemp plant.
But how did one become aware of CBD at all? We take a look into the past.
How it all began
Many people associate the hemp plant with South America, but cannabis did not come to South America until the 16th century by the Spaniards. the original home of hemp is in Central Asia, more precisely in today's Kazakhstan. the annual plant can grow up to five metres high, grows back very quickly and can therefore be cultivated in an ecologically sustainable way.
The cultivation of hemp as a useful plant probably began in China about 5,000 - 6,000 years ago. Thus the hemp plant belongs to the oldest useful plants in the world. The Chinese used cannabis flowers at an early age to achieve pain and inflammation-relieving effects. But also the resistant fibres of hemp from the stalks of the plant were already bound to ropes at that time. Hemp fibres are also characterised by excellent flexibility, which results in a wide range of possible applications. Textiles, paper, nets and flags were produced from hemp. The oldest hemp thread found dates from around 2300 BC. For thousands of years, hemp fibres were the most common raw material for clothing all over the world.
The hemp plant has also been used as food for thousands of years. Hemp seeds from the flowers contain no THC and are full of important vitamins and nutrients. Cannabis Sativa was then brought from China to the whole world.
The cultivation of hemp became the standard in the western world.
In the early days of colonial America, hemp was firmly integrated into everyday life and people appreciated the simple cultivation of this undemanding plant.
In 1753 hemp was given the name Cannabis Sativa by a Swedish scientist, Linnaeus. As an ingredient for the treatment of gastrointestinal diseases, cannabis was widely used as a medicine in large parts of the 19th century.
Propaganda around cannabis only appeared in the early 1900s in the United States and in the western world, especially after the Mexican Revolution of 1910, when immigrants brought the habit of recreational smoking of cannabis.
Racist prejudice of the time demonized the plant and, as a result of massive unemployment during the Great Depression, fear of Mexican immigrants increased, escalating public and government concern about the potential "problem" of marijuana. 29 states had banned marijuana by 1931.
Using the term "marijuana" instead of cannabis was deliberately used in propaganda to portray the plant as something foreign that "invades" the United States, rather than describing it for what it really is: a plant that has been used in America for hundreds of years.
Through early films and propaganda pieces such as the infamous Reefer Madness (1936), public opinion about cannabis began to change, although its actual use for smoking was generally rare.
The Marijuana Tax Act of 1937 banned the sale of hemp and cannabis in the United States, thereby consolidating its illegal status.
The discovery of CBD
The discovery and first-time extraction of CBD from the cannabis plant was published in 1940 by a group of chemists at the University of Illinois in the U.S.A. However, without extensive research results, scientists at that time initially classified the substance as toxic and ruled out a positive effect on the human body. Nevertheless, this was the first significant milestone in the history of cannabidiol (CBD).
However, this development was followed by more than 20 years in which hardly anyone seriously dealt with the substance CBD. Its structure and mode of action therefore initially remained largely unexplored. It was not until 1963, 23 years after the discovery of cannabidiol, that the chemist Raphael Mechoulam of the Hebrew University in Jerusalem succeeded in determining its chemical composition.
Nevertheless, it took another 10 years until in 1973 a Brazilian research team was able to prove that CBD reduces epilepsy symptoms in animals. Shortly after that, the anxiety-relieving properties of cannabidiol were also recognized and these discoveries were followed by extensive research into the possible medical effects of CBD. The potential for use in the treatment of nausea and sleep disorders was discovered in the 1970's. At the same time, interest in the even better known cannabinoid THC grew and CBD was somewhat forgotten in the following two decades.
In the late 1980s, scientists discovered the endocannabinoid system in the human body, paving the way for extensive research in the field of cannabinoids. This was followed by numerous other discoveries that pointed to undreamt-of possibilities for the use of CBD as a medical device.
From 2000 - Cannabis becomes legal in the USA
Due to extensive research, the legal situation around cannabis became more relaxed and made the legalisation of medical cannabis possible.
Today, there are countless studies on CBD, THC and other cannabinoids contained in cannabis and hemp, and the sheer endless applications of this fascinating plant are indeed a Gift of nature on us humans.