Decades of marijuana legislation have caused people to believe that the medicinal effects of CBD are a recent discovery, however, this is far from true. The truth is, CBD has been around for centuries, dating back to the Ancient Chinese! Join me today as I take you on a journey through time!
Shen Neng, Emperor of China, prescribed cannabis tea for the treatement of gout, rheumatism, tuberculosis and even bad memory as early as 2737 B.C. The use of the substance as a medication expanded through Asia, the Middle East and along Africa's eastern coast, and some Hindu groups in India used cannabis for religious reasons and relaxation. Ancient doctors prescribed cannabis for everything from relief of pain to earache to even pregnancy.
By the late 18th century, early editions of American medical journals revealed guidelines for curing inflamed skin, incontinence, and venereal disease with hemp seeds and roots. Throughout Britain and America, Irish physician William O'Shaughnessy popularised medical use of marijuana. He discovered hemp relieved the pain of rheumatism and assisted in cases of rabies, tetanus and cholera, avoiding discomfort and nausea.
Almost a century after the publishing of O'Shaughnessy's report, developments in research and technology confirmed the existence of compounds in the cannabis plant. The first identification of a single cannabinoid was reported when British chemist Robert S. Cahn identified the partial cannabinol structure, which he subsequently identified as fully formed in 1940.
Two years later American scientist, Roger Adams made history when he effectively extracted the first cannabinoid, Cannabidiol (CBD). He also discovered Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) in his research.
Within the initial stages of cannabinoid research, researchers had minimal awareness of the cannabinoid structure and only limited understanding of the biological structure within the plant. Due to this, early scientists were unable to determine exactly which compound caused which effect.
Dr. Raphael Mechoulam made the first breakthrough in 1963 when he effectively recognised CBD's stereochemistry. A year later, Mecholam made another discovery and identified THC's stereochemistry, revealing the cannabinoids' direct relationship to the hallucinogenic effects of cannabis use, and disassociating CBD as a mind-altering drug.
In the 1980s, Dr. Mechoulam and his colleagues conducted research on the possible use of CBD in epilepsy treatment in the study, Mechoulam and his team prescribed a group of 8 subjects with daily doses of 300mg of CBD. Half of the subjects stopped having seizures after just four months of treatment, with the others showing a significant decrease in the frequency of their seizures.
This was a huge discovery that could have changed the lives of more than 50 million epileptics around the globe, however, due to the prejudices towards cannabis during that time, the discovery was not publicised as any kind of breakthrough.Nevertheless, Dr. Mechoulam's efforts would not go to waste.
Less than a decade later, research in cannabinoid medicinal applications reported the identification of additional cannabinoids, more knowledge of cannabinoid structure and the remarkable discovery of the Endocannabinoid System (ECS) in our body— a network of receptors which bind with cannabinoid receptors.
Charlotte Figi was born in 2006 with Dravet's Syndrome, a rare but severe form of epilepsy. Charlotte had lost most of her ability to walk, speak, and eat by the age of just four, and was suffering 300 seizures a week. Although her parents had explored all the modern medicine solutions they could, nothing improved their daughter's condition. They turned to CBD as a last resort.
Charlotte's seizures ended nearly instantly after taking a small dose of CBD oil derived from a high-CBD hemp plant. When hours had passed by and Charlotte had no seizures, her parents knew that their wishes had been answered— CBD worked.
Now, Charlotte is experiencing only 2 or 3 seizures a month — a significant reduction from the previous 300 seizures a week. Charlotte now has the ability to live a normal life with most of her normal functions recovered.
The prejudice against CBD and cannabis has dramatically changed in the years since Charlotte's story. Those who once opposed cannabis now turn to CBD for relief and their medicinal properties help change countless lives across the world. Although major progress has been made by the campaign, we are still only in the early stages. CBD continues to thrive at exponential rates.
Here in the UK, two CBD medicines have recently become available to prescribe in NHS hospitals, paving the way for more advancements in CBD in the future, and hopefully soon changing the world for the better.