The History of CBD and Hemp

timeline of hemp

You wouldn’t be alone in thinking that CBD was a modern phenomenon, and certainly only in recent years has it resurfaced as a popular therapeutic aid to pain relief, sleep, stress, and many other issues. However, CBD is a naturally occurring substance and so has been around for tens of thousands of years. In fact, records show that hemp may have been one of the earliest plants to be cultivated by humanity during the birth of agriculture 10000-12000 years ago.

The Origins of Hemp

The cannabis plant is indigeneous to Central Asia, particularly India, and experts believe that hemp was the earliest plant to be cultivated for textile fibre due to its strong, coarse properties. It is thought that Siberians and Mongolians harvested and grew cannabis plants for this purpose in 12000BC. From then onwards, various communities used cannabis, hemp and CBD for different purposes. 

The first documented use of cannabis was in 2737BC, when Chinese Emperor Sheng Nung drank cannabis-infused tea to relax and bring his body back into balance. It is interesting to note that this is very similar to how we can put CBD into our drinks to help bring balance back to our bodies and minds today!

There are many other documented uses of cannabis and CBD throughout early history, particularly in relation to religion and celebration. Between 2000BC and 1000BC, Indians regularly used cannabis in religious ceremonies – in fact, the Atharva Veda, a sacred text, names cannabis as one of the “five sacred plants”, stating a guardian angel inhabits its leaves. The Hebrew Old Testament also refers to cannabis burning in temples; the fragrance is said to have pleased the gods, and this may have been amplified due to people nearby feeling the balancing effects of the CBD burning in the air around them.

The first recorded use of CBD for skincare purposes was in ancient Egypt, where Pharoah Ramses II (governed 1279BC – 1213BC) was an avid user of hemp oils. In fact, he believed in the benefits of hemp so much that he and several other Pharoahs and advisers at the time were buried with hemp oils!

The importance of hemp was clearly not overlooked in history. On several occasions in history, it was actually a crime to not grow hemp plants! In 1533, King Henry VIII fined farmers who did not grow hemp, and in 1619 it was completely illegal to not grow hemp in Virginia, with potential for capital punishment for offenders!

hemp plant

The Discovery of CBD

Although hemp has been used for thousands of years, the discovery of CBD and its properties is still relatively new. The first cannabinoid to be isolated from the hemp plant was CBN (cannabinol) in 1940 by Robert S. Cahn, shortly followed by our beloved CBD in 1942 by an American chemist, Roger Adams. It was not until 1964 that THC was isolated by Raphael Mechoulam. Through this, chemists discovered the properties of both CBD and THC, and so the first therapeutic & commercial products containing CBD began to be discussed.

Now, most countries allow CBD to be used freely to help with a wide range of ailments. Although CBD is still currently classed as a food product by MHRA and therefore cannot make any medical claims, it is drastically increasing in popularity, and millions of customers around the world are giving glowing reviews of CBD and the ways it has changed their lives – in fact, in the UK last year alone, 6 million people were reported to have used CBD. From Chinese Emperor Sheng Nung drinking cannabis infused tea to restore balance to his body, to Queen Victoria allegedly using CBD to alleviate menstrual cramps in the late 19th century, it is clear that CBD has been helping people for several millennia, and we hope it will continue to do so for several more to come!