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How CBD came to be

 

We’re lucky to be in an age where genuine scientific study on cannabis and its compounds is encouraged and respected. The more we discover about cannabis and CBD, the closer we are to realising its full potential.

But to understand where we are now, it’s important to delve back into the chequered history of cannabis, and the scientific study that has been allowed to happen.

Of course, the majority of these studies have not been widely reported in the media and repressed, due to the negative stigmas associated with the plant.

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Ancient Uses

The first documented use of cannabis-derived medicine dates back to 2737BC when Chinese Emperor Sheng Nung used a cannabis-infused tea to aid with a variety of ailments including memory loss, malaria, rheumatism and gout.

Royal links

There is evidence pointing towards Queen Victoria using CBD during her reign, but medical use of CBD and cannabis in the UK is difficult to pinpoint in history, due to the fact that it was not recognised in the medical community.

Cannabis’ first medicinal studies

Irish physician and researcher named William B. O’Shaughnessy published one of the first major studies attributed to cannabis in 1839. As you can imagine, this paper was considered extremely controversial and its results did not move science forward with any sense of urgency.Nevertheless, it was extremely important for aiding the discovery of compounds known as cannabinoids. It was nearly a century on that advancements in scientific research and technology would prove the presence of these compounds within the cannabis plant.

Discovering cannabinoids

The first known discovery of an individual cannabinoid was made by British chemist Robert. S. Cahn in 1940. This accelerated scientific research greatly, yet still had no influence on medicine. It was a further two years until American chemist, Roger Adams, successfully isolated the first cannabinoid, Cannabidiol (CBD). Adams is also credited with the discovery of the other major compound in cannabis, Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).Although these discoveries were considered astounding, cannabis being an illegal drug prevented the discoveries from making an impact on medicine. Plus, scientists were initially unable to distinguish between the two compounds and so it was still unknown which was responsible for the ‘high’.

Separating the healing from the highs

Dr. Raphael Mechoulam is an important figure in the history of cannabis, for discovering the stereochemical differences between CBD and THC in 1964 – and that THC is directly responsible for the euphoric and mind-altering effects of cannabis. As a result, he proved that CBD wasn’t a mind-altering compound.

Legal medicine

14 years later, New Mexico passed a Controlled Substances Therapeutic Research Act, a bill which legally recognized the medicinal value of cannabis. This enabled influential doctors such as Mechoulam to continue research and produce studies with truly compelling results. In a study focusing on CBD, Mechoulam was particularly interested in its relationship with epilepsy. This study administered a daily dose of 300mg of CBD to a group of 8 subjects. After just four months, 50% of patients had completely stopped having seizures and the others were exhibiting a decrease in the frequency and severity of their seizures. It is startling to think that it is only really now that 50 million people with epilepsy worldwide are becoming aware of the benefits of CBD.

Mainstream acceptance

Although it took 141 years between O’Shaughnessy’s original study and Mecholam’s incredible discovery, the last 5 years have seen huge increase in positive coverage about using cannabis for medicinal purposes. The stigma surrounding cannabis is fading, and its healing properties are now being discussed in the mainstream media. This is all thanks to the hours of research put in by brave scientists who put their reputations on the line for a controversial, wrongly stigmatised plant. Thanks to them, alternative medicine like CBD is now truly becoming a credible, healthier alternative.

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