CBD has become one of the most popular products in the health and wellness industry. Cannabidiol, abbreviated as CBD, has gained interest and popularity in the United States and across the world because it is believed to offer several potential health benefits for people suffering from various conditions. Studies show that at least 14% of Americans have tried CBD. Health researchers are still investigating whether CBD might be helpful in the treatment of various conditions such as chronic pain, neurodegenerative diseases, and mental health disorders like depression. They are yet to present any conclusive data on the perceived medical and therapeutic health benefits of CBD. However, the FDA has authorized the use of Epidiolex, an oral drug-infused with CBD, for the treatment of people suffering from epilepsy.
CBD is one of several compounds, referred to as cannabinoids, that can be extracted from the cannabis plant species. You can obtain CBD from either the hemp plant or the marijuana plant, though it is mostly extracted from hemp. Hemp contains very little traces of THC, the cannabinoid with psychoactive effects and gives users a high feeling. The hemp plant contains less than 0.3% levels of THC. But when did humans learn that they could extract such an important compound from a plant? When was CBD discovered? This article answers these questions.
The Discovery of CBD
Dr. Roger Adams, with the help of his team from the University of Illinois, is credited with the discovery of CBD. An organic chemist by profession, he was able to successfully extract CBD from the cannabis plant in 1940 while conducting studies to understand the chemical interaction between Cannabis Sativa and the brain. This marked the beginning of modern interest and research on CBD. In 1946, Dr. Walter S. Lowe released a study that showed CBD did not lead to mind-altering effects on users. However, the full chemical structure of CBD was not understood until Dr. Raphael Mechoulam identified the stereochemistry of CBD in 1963.
William B. O’Shaughnessy helped open the doors for the discovery and research on CBD. In 1839, the Irish physician and medical researcher published a study that sought to investigate the therapeutic effects of cannabis. In his findings, he claimed that cannabis could be used as an anesthetic. The controversy surrounding his study inspired health researchers to start investigating the medical applications of cannabis.
CBD was not the first cannabinoid to be discovered by researchers. That honor goes to cannabinol (CBN) which was discovered in the 1930s by Robert S. Cahn, a British chemist. Cahn didn’t understand the full chemical structure of CBN until 1940, the same year when Dr. Adams discovered CBD.
THC was isolated from the cannabis plant two years later in 1942 by Loewe, Levine, Matchett, and Wollner. THC dominated research on cannabinoids more than CBD because of the widespread use of cannabis as a recreational drug. The momentum shifted to CBD in the 1980s when Dr. Mechoulam performed a study seeking to investigate how CBD could be helpful in the treatment of epilepsy. Because of the stigma surrounding cannabis during that period of time, his breakthrough did not receive much publicity. It did, however, lead to the explosion of interest in CBD. More resources were dedicated to research on CBD and its potential benefits to human beings.