Learning the History of CBD

If you’re looking for natural-based ways to treat conditions such as epilepsy or anxiety, CBD may be your answer. Read on to learn more about the history of CBD.

Did you know that cannabidiol, or CBD, is not a new discovery? With over 6,000 years of known use, you’d think we would have more information about this cannabis compound and its health benefits. Unfortunately, issues accessing the plant for research have prevented progress with the study and implementation of CBD.

Why Results Are Cloudy

Not a lot of scientific evidence supports the use of CBD, which is a common issue with many natural supplements and homeopathic remedies. Because cannabis is not entirely legal in all U.S. states, researchers haven’t had as much time to study the plant and its hundreds of compounds.

The Study of Cannabis

The first studies on the benefits of CBD as an anesthetic were shared in 1839 by William B. O’Shaughnessy. His findings were published and were not readily received by the public. O’Shaugnessy was successful in showing the potential medicinal benefits of cannabis and paved the way for others to identify specific compounds within the plant.

It may have taken about 100 years, but researchers eventually isolated some of the most common compounds found in cannabis:

  • Cannabinol (CBN) – the first compound isolated in cannabis
  • Cannabidiol (CBD) – the second compound isolated in cannabis.
  • Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC)  the third compound isolated in cannabis


There are hundreds of compounds in cannabis, and it should not be confused with the marijuana plant. The two differ, as marijuana is simply a type of cannabis plant and cannabidiol (CBD) is an extract found in cannabis plants.

Resistance to medicinal cannabis use has always existed, as the public commonly believes the marijuana plant is a “gateway drug,” and it is the same as the cannabis plant. It’s important to remember that CBD is not the same as marijuana as a whole or as the Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) compound. While THC is found in marijuana and cannabis, and its extracts (in fact, people might look into things like live rosin vs live resin when they are deciding what product may best suit their needs) and can produce a “high,” it’s not the same as CBD. CBD is merely one of many compounds found within the cannabis plant that has its own unique benefits, which do not include the “high” that comes from THC.
Studies conducted by Dr. Raphael Mechoulam in 1964 proved that CBD was not a mind-altering compound in cannabis, and Dr. Mechoulam went on to study CBD as a treatment option for epilepsy and for use as a hypnotic.

the history of CBD
Image by Erin Stone from Pixabay

History of CBD

As mentioned above, it was 1940 when cannabidiol (CBD) was isolated as a phytocannabinoid in cannabis. There are currently 113 identified cannabinoids in cannabis, with delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol making up approximately 40% of the compounds. 

It wasn’t until 1978 that New Mexico passed a bill called the Controlled Substances Therapeutic Research Act that legally acknowledged cannabis’ medical benefits. Years later, in 1996, California passed Proposition 215 to make medical marijuana legal, followed by a number of other states. This legalization gave researchers approved access to cannabis so they could continue to study its benefits.

Today, while many states have medical laws allowing the controlled use of cannabis and hemp-derived CBD, a physician’s recommendation is still required, and CBD is still not FDA-approved for interstate commerce. Even in states in which recreational marijuana is legal, CBD still cannot be marketed and sold in food or as a dietary supplement.

However, making medical cannabis legal in some states opened to door to understanding how cannabis can help relieve the symptoms of chronic pain and epilepsy. Continued studies and implementation of CBD help the medical community better understand this cannabis compound and its benefits.

The science of growing cannabis has improved over the years. Researchers and growers have developed ways to diversify cannabis and lower the ratio of CBD to THC compounds in cannabis. Hemp is an example of a cannabis plant with around 0.3% THC, whereas there could be anywhere from 3%-6% CBD.

Health Benefits of CBD

In the United States and Europe, cannabidiol (CBD) is used to treat seizures. Epidiolex is the only FDA-approved prescription CBD for this use for the following seizure-related conditions:

  • Dravet Syndrome
  • Lennox-Gastaut Syndrome
  • Tuberous Sclerosis Complex


Dr. Mechoulam conducted a seizure study in the 80s using 8 human test subjects. Over a period of four months, he gave a 300mg dose of CBD to each subject daily. Within four months, 50% of the subjects no longer suffered from seizures, and the other 50% showed a marked reduction in the number of seizures they experienced. CBD usage shows promising results, so buying bulk CBD can definitely come in handy.

CBD is also used medicinally to reduce the severity of anxiety, insomnia, and chronic pain. CBD has anti-inflammatory properties, and studies show it is a promising option for improving the quality of life for those living with Parkinson’s Disease.

In a 2017 study in England, it was discovered that the use of CBD could improve heart health by lowering blood pressure, improving blood circulation, and reducing inflammation.

The scientific community looks forward to fewer restrictions on access to and the study of cannabis so they can continue to research the benefits and effects of the plant and its many compounds.

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