The History of CBD and Hemp: A Brief Overview

While many people believe that using hemp and CBD is a relatively modern way to treat certain medical conditions, especially in regards to stress and pain management, hemp and CBD are far from being a recent discovery. In fact, both the use of hemp and CBD dates back as far as ancient times, and both were used all over the world in a variety of ancient cultures. Dating back thousands of years, people have identified ways to treat ailments with the plant from which CBD oil is harvested. At the same time, the first traces of hemp date back as far as 8000 BCE in Asian regions which are now known as modern day China and Taiwan.

Today, Pure Lush Organics would like to take the time to tell you more about the history of hemp and CBD. From how and where it was used to the variety of benefits found in both hemp and CBD, this article is exactly the brief overview of the history of hemp and CBD that you’re looking for. Let’s get started!

CBD in Ancient History

Cannabidiol (CBD), is one of the many compounds found in the plant species Cannabis Sativa. This flowering plant is known to grow naturally across most of the world and is known as being a particularly versatile plant in that it can grow in a variety of regions including humid, mountainous, and tropical regions. The Cannabis plant has been used throughout human history in an array of ways and is thought by many to be the first plant ever used to produce cloth.

CBD Oil History in Ancient Mongolia and Siberia

In discussing CBD in ancient history, we must first look at its history in ancient Mongolia and Siberia. Its use being traced back thousands of years, people were using the Cannabis plant in Mongolia and Siberia dating as far back as 12,000 BCE. Many archeologists believe that Cannabis Sativa was one of the very first plants to be grown and harvested during the birth of agriculture. Much evidence has shown that the agriculture of this particular plant was an important component in the development of early civilization. Being used in most areas of life including religiously, medically, building, and clothing, the Cannabis plant was a crucial component of everyday life in ancient cultures. 

Archeologists have discovered much evidence to suggest that seeds and oil from Cannabis plants were used as a food source in China dating back as far as 6000 BCE. While the Chinese used the plants for a range of purposes, its main use is thought to be attributed to medicine. The positive effects it had on people suffering from multiple types of ailments was noted and expanded upon as the years passed.

Emperor Shen-Neng is well-documented as being the first person in history to use Cannabis as a medicine dating back to 2737 BCE. The CBD found in the Cannabis plant was used to successfully treat the pains that the emperor was experiencing due to his suffering from gout and rheumatism. With its benefits being identified, the Cannabis plant started to be used widely in ancient Chinese culture to treat the majority of physical ailments. 

Archeologists have uncovered a series of ancient records that described the use of different parts of the Cannabis plant in order to relieve or completely heal a variety of different medical issues. One example found in these ancient records was the use of ground roots to be used to treat clots and infections. Another example detailed the use of another part of the Cannabis plant in treating stomach pain and even reducing hair loss! In a Chinese book known as the Shu King dating back as far as 2300 BCE, Cannabis is described as being used to treat a variety of painful ailments including menstrual cramps.  

CBD Oil Research in Ancient Asia

The ancient Chinese expanded on their knowledge of the positive medicinal effects that could be received by the Cannabis plant as the years went on. By the year 140 AD, the ancient Chinese had successfully developed a method to mix Cannabis and wine in order to be used as an anesthetic before surgeries were performed. However, Chinese farmers had already taken the plant to Korea around 2000 BCE, where its use as a medicine and overall cultivation continued to spread throughout Asia and into Europe. From that point on, its uses continued to develop throughout parts of Africa, Europe, and Asia. 

CBD Oil History in Ancient Egypt

In ancient Egyptian culture, Pharaoh Ramses II, reigning pharaoh from 1279-1213 BCE, widely encouraged the use of Cannabis as a medicine throughout his empire. In fact, he found Cannabis so useful that oils from the plant were even buried with him and later discovered by archeologists inside his tomb. The first known topical use of the Cannabis plant was created by the ancient Egyptians. They used parts of the Cannabis plant as a topical treatment in order to relieve pain from inflammation as well as labor pains during childbirth. 

The ancient Egyptians also recorded their success using oil from the Cannabis plant in treating cataracts and sore eyes. They also noted that these oils could be used as a suppository in order to effectively treat hemorrhoids. This information can be found on ancient scrolls dating back as far as 2000 BCE.  

CBD Oil Uses in Ancient India

Beginning between 2000 BCE and 1000 BCE in India, Indian people used the Cannabis plant in both annual celebrations and religious practices. In fact, it was used as the main ingredient in Soma, a popular Indian drink used in religious ceremonies, as well as a drink called Bhang, used in celebrations. Upon realizing the healing properties of the Cannabis plant, Bhang would later be used medicinally to treat a variety of ailments ranging from stomachaches to headaches. 

CBD Oil Uses in Ancient Middle East

Being introduced to other parts of the Middle East between 2000 and 1400 BCE, the Cannabis plant was most likely cultivated and put to use by a nomadic Indo-European group of people called the Scythians. In their culture, the Scythians would have used the plant to treat a variety of physical ailments, most notably for epilepsy over 1000 years ago. The Scythians were also the first to introduce the Cannabis plant to Europe upon bringing the plant to the country of Germany about 2800 years ago. 

CBD Oil History in Ancient Greece

Soon after the plant’s introduction to Greece around the year 200 BCE, it was used once again to treat a wide variety of ailments. In Greece, the most popular usage of CBD in ancient Greece ranged from treating earaches to edema. While the Greeks were well aware of the many positive effects CBD had on humans, they also used it to treat their horses when injured in battle. The Greeks also used the roots of the plant to both heal and provide relief to burns. The seeds of the plants were also widely used to help patients suffering from tapeworms. 

Another particular popular use of CBD in ancient Greece was that the seeds and leaves of the Cannabis plant were steeped in water or wine. This drink was given not only as pain relief but as a treatment for both inflammation and constipation. 

The Official Beginning of CBD Research

It wasn’t until the year 1839, when Irish physician and medical researcher, William B. O’Shaughnessy, published a study investigating the positive therapeutic effects of Cannabis, that researchers began to more closely consider the medical effects of Cannabis. In his controversial study, O’Shaughnessy explored the rudimentary effects of the Cannabis plant and thoroughly described its potential medical applications- especially as an anesthetic. Although the Irish researcher may not have known it then, he had opened the door towards the discovery of what would one day be referred to as cannabinoids. 

Nearly a century after O’Shaughnessy published his study, advancements in research and technology revealed the presence of compounds within the cannabis plant. The first discovery of an individual cannabinoid was made, when British chemist Robert S. Cahn reported the partial structure of Cannabinol (CBN), which he later identified as fully formed in 1940.

Two years later, American chemist, Roger Adams, made history when he successfully isolated the first cannabinoid, Cannabidiol (CBD). His research is also responsible for the discovery of Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). In 1963, Dr. Raphael Mechoulam made the first breakthrough towards understanding the effects of individual cannabinoids when he successfully identified the stereochemistry of CBD. This momentum would be continued during the 1980s as Dr. Mechoulam and his team conducted a study on the potential application of CBD for the treatment of epilepsy as a hypnotic. This study would prove to be groundbreaking as, after just four months of treatment, half of the 8 subjects in the study would stop having seizures entirely. This would be a huge breakthrough that had the potential to change the lives of over 50 million epilepsy sufferers from around the world. 

The Rise of CBD in the United States

In the year of 1996, California passed Proposition 215, making it the first state to legalize medical marijuana. Within the next few years, 7 states would follow suit including Oregon, Washington, Alaska, Hawaii, Nevada, Maine, and Colorado. With the legalization of medical marijuana, patients in each of those states now had legal access to cannabis and this would pave the way for researchers to expand their studies into cannabinoid medical uses. This would prompt research into the potential of CBD for a variety of ailments including chronic pain, epilepsy, and numerous neurodegenerative diseases. 

In the years since medical marijuana was made legal in 8 states, the stigma towards CBD and cannabis in general in the United States has changed dramatically. In fact, many of the people that once opposed cannabis now turn to CBD for relief of both their physical ailments, anxiety, and stress. The therapeutic properties of CBD are helping thousands of people across the country. Although the history of CBD and its uses span back thousands of years, we now know more than ever before about the therapeutic effects and these benefits are now well-known in the mainstream world.  

Hemp’s Humble Origins in the United States

Next, let’s talk about the origin of hemp in the United States specifically. While the first traces of hemp were found back in 8000 BCE in Asian regions now known as modern-day China and Taiwan, hemp has, throughout history, continued to spread across civilizations. The first documented uses of hemp discovered to date are hemp cords used in pottery and records that show that hemp seed and oil were used as food in China. When you consider that human agriculture started about 10,000 years ago, you can assume that hemp was one of the first agricultural crops.

To our knowledge, hemp was first introduced to hemp in 1606. Ever since, American farmers grew hemp that was used for multiple different applications including lamp fuels, rope, and paper. In the 1700s, farmers were even legally required to grow hemp as a staple crop. In fact, many of the nation’s founding fathers grew hemp and were even advocates of its uses and benefits. Most notably, George Washington grew hemp on his estate. 

Although hemp was a big part of early U.S. history, the attitude surrounding the crop started to change during the early 1900s. Upon the U.S. government increasing its resolve to fight against drugs such as marijuana, hemp ended up getting grouped in. The   started the major decline of the hemp industry with all hemp sales starting to get heavily taxed on. 

In 1942, however, the United States again reversed their view of hemp upon realizing they needed hemp for the war effort. In fact, the Department of Agriculture started to heavily promote the harvesting of hemp and started publishing various benefits that hemp offered including findings that hemp produces 4 times more paper per acre than the use of trees. When the U.S. government released a pro-hemp documentary called Hemp for Victory, which encouraged farmers throughout the Midwest and Southeast to grow hemp to support the war, hemp experienced its peak in production. In fact, this led to over 400,000 acres of hemp being planted between the years of 1942 and 1945. 

Unfortunately, after Hemp for Victory, the U.S. government went back to its original stance on hemp once again, leading to yet another decline in the industry. Instead, alternative sources such as plastic and nylon were encouraged as a substitute amongst a variety of industries. As a result, many farmers specializing in the harvesting of hemp had to declare bankruptcy. Hemp farming would eventually be officially banned in 1970 with the passage of the Controlled Substances Act in which hemp was included as a Schedule 1 drug, grouping this crop with drugs like heroin and LSD.

In 2004, after nearly 30 years of being forbidden in the United States, the nation began allowing businesses to import a variety of dietary hemp products. The first big win for U.S. farmers came in 2007, when two North Dakota farmers were granted hemp licenses—the first time in over 50 years. Building upon this victory, the Farm Bill was passed in 2014 which allowed more states and businesses to begin experimenting with hemp. Ultimately, in 2018, hemp and all its derivatives became fully legalized through the Agricultural Improvement Act.

Today, more farmers, entrepreneurs, and consumers are interested in hemp than ever before. A new infrastructure is growing to help farmers both harvest and process their crops while new people are discovering the benefits of hemp and CBD each and every day. In fact, a Gallup poll in 2019 suggested that a total of 14 percent of Americans use CBD products. With new CBD and hemp industries making history, the future looks bright for these beneficial and multipurpose crops.


By: Nelson J Heredia

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

This site uses cookies to offer you a better browsing experience. By browsing this website, you agree to our use of cookies.