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Updated on April 30, 2021

Hemp History Timeline (CBD History)

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Since the dawn of humanity, the use of plants has been a part of our daily existence. Plants such as ephedra, opium poppies, and hemp had been found in archaeological excavations dating as far as 60,000 years ago. It is accurate to say that the human race has been the subject of practical experimentation involving medicinal plants for thousands of years. As a result, we have been able to record the many health benefits experienced by the use of plants.

The First Recorded Use of Hemp CBD

Many scholars think that hemp was one of the first crops cultivated, but it is hard to determine as there are no written records. In the beginning, it was a standard part of our history that knowledge passed along in the form of stories. Likewise, the medicinal applications of hemp were transmitted orally from generation to generation. 

Researchers believed ancient China was using hemp for therapeutic purposes around 6,000 BCE, but no written record was found until 2737 BCE. Aiming to alleviate pain, then-emperor Shen-Nung created the first known topical hemp oil to be applied on rashes and irritated skin. He later noted his findings in the Pen Ts’ao Ching, the world’s oldest pharmacopeia. The mystical Chinese emperor used hemp oil to reduce discomfort, constipation, female reproductive system disorders, and malaria. (1)

Traveling from East to West 

The hemp plant continued to appear in different times and parts of world history. In some cases giving it the status of “sacred grass” as noted in the sacred Hindu text Atharvaveda, in the years between 2,000 and 800 BCE. In this same period, writings were found that mention using hemp oil as part of an eyewash solution utilized by the Egyptians. 

Also, the hemp plant was well-known among  Middle Eastern physicians for its body discomfort supporting, antiemetic, diuretic, and anti-epileptic properties. 

Later on, in 77 AD, Romans used hemp for discomfort relief and extracting bugs from ears. The same year Dioscorides wrote about hemp helping to ease ear discomfort, burns, and stomach-related problems in his pharmacopeia. 

The Western World and Hemp CBD in Medicine 

The popularity of hemp grew in the Western world, not only because of its fibers but also because European doctors started to use hemp to treat coughs and tumors. In 1563 the Jewish-Portuguese physician Garcia de Orta, resident of Goa, then a Portuguese territory, published his “Colloquies on the simples and drugs of India”. Here, Garcia de Orta noted that the use of hemp was known to help alleviate anxiety, increase appetite, and form better sleeping patterns. In this same century, Henry VIII ordered that farmers grow hemp; if they did not follow this, fines were applied. (2)

By the 17th century, hemp had arrived in America, and its use was so widespread that by the 1800s, hemp was listed in numerous medical texts. However, its popularization is attributed to the medical professor and surgeon at the College of Calcutta, W.B. O’Shaughnessy. He noticed the analgesic effects of hemp together with its ability to relax muscles and used it for patients suffering from rheumatic diseases, tetanus, cholera, and hydrophobia. (3)

What is Hemp CBD?

There is often some confusion around hemp CBD. In simple terms, CBD stands for “cannabidiol'', a compound retrieved from the hemp (cannabis sativa) plant. CBD is one of the 100 unique compounds found in hemp. In recent years the industry producing CBD products has flourished worldwide due to increasing research on its therapeutic benefits to mitigate damaging effects from various illnesses. On the other hand, in America, the industrial production of hemp CBD has accelerated in recent years. (4)

Want to Learn More?

  1. What is a Certificate of Analysis for CBD products?
  2. Why CBDa is Rare?
  3. How Organic Hemp Oil Benefits Skin



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