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The history of CBD: Where did it come from?

Whilst CBD products are growing rapidly in popularity, they are seen as a relatively new and modern supplement, most in the west. However, the reality is that the beneficial effects of CBD, a compound found in Hemp, has been used all over the world, with some uses dating back over 3000 years.

Ancient China

The first mention of human cultivation and use of the hemp plant comes from 3300 years ago in modern day China, where it was called ma and used in everyday life as raw material for manufacturing textiles. Whilst the upper classes of society famously wore silk, the peasants instead wore cheaper, more durable clothes made out of hemp.

Hemp clothing

The plant had another important use - to make paper. Hemp fibres were crushed together with mulberry bark, water then added. Paper was then made by removing any chunky, fibrous matter, and then moulding and drying it.

Hemp flowers were also historically used in cooking with peasants combining it with rice and wheat, a staple of the ancient Chinese peasants diet. Similar dishes can still be found today in Nepalese food.

Whilst we don’t know if the Chinese were aware of the psychoactive effects of THC, we do know that they used hemp for a number of medical issues, such as skin diseases such as leprosy, disinfecting wounds, and reversing hair loss.

The British Empire

As Europeans established trading networks with the rest of the world, they discovered new crops and learned of their uses. We can trace the adoption of CBD by Europeans back to an individual called William Brooke O’Shaughnessy, who worked for the East India Company as an assistant surgeon.

He saw that locals used hemp/CBD in a variety of ways, and so he published research on the uses of cannabis, and discovered new applications. He began to recommend CBD for a multitude of therapeutic uses.

As a result of his work cannabis indica was introduced to Western medicine in England in 1841. He continued to write books about the different uses for CBD until countries started to ban the use of Indian hemp in 1911.

One very famous person who apparently used CBD as a result of William Brooke O’Shaughnessy’s work was Queen Victoria, who took CBD to relieve her menstrual spasms.

Queen victoria

CBD was legal in Victorian Britain and was actually quite a popular form of pain relief. USA After a long time of being banned, in 1940 a man called Roger Adams, an American chemist, successfully isolated the CBD compound from the rest of the hemp plant.

Then in 1946 Dr Walter S. Loewe tested CBD using animal lab tests, beginning research into CBD and its effects, documenting the effects of cannabinoids on small mammals, and also showed that CBD, unlike THC, doesn’t cause an altered mental state.


Prior to Dr Walter S. Loewe, Dr Raphael Mechoulam, whilst researching CBD at the University of Jerusalem in Israel, mapped the three-dimensional structure of CBD, and is commonly credited with its ‘discovery’.

Later on, Dr Mechoulam started conducting research on the closest animal to a human, a primate. He noted that the hemp flower extract does not affect the animal from the first try. He discovered that THC is the compound that caused the “high” psychoactive effect rather than CBD.

Most recently, in 1980, Dr Mechoulam also showed that cannabidiol could be an essential compound in treating epilepsy. He worked with the medical case of Charlotte Figi, who suffered from Dravet syndrome, a kind of epilepsy, which caused her to have hundreds seizures every month.

By taking CBD she was able to reduce the number she experienced each month down to a handful.

Dr Mechoulam CBD

Nowadays, CBD products are legal throughout much of the west, with legalisation of its use gaining momentum throughout the world, as people have rediscovered its beneficial health effects, and increased knowledge reduces associated stigma. If you would like to try some of our high quality CBD products, take our test to find the best product for you: [insert link]