Updated on January 29, 2024

History of CBD

Fact Checked

Key takeaways

  • CBD was discovered by Dr. Roger Adams and his team in 1940.
  • The full structure of CBD was determined by Raphael Mechoulam and his colleagues in 1963.
  • Epidiolex, a CBD-based medication was approved by the FDA for the treatment of certain forms of epilepsy in 2018.
  • Epidiolex was inspired by the story of Charlotte Figi, a girl who suffered with Dravet syndrome but had a remarkable improvement in her symptoms after using a CBD-dominant cannabis strain.
  • As of January 2024, 327 clinical trials related to CBD have been registered on clinicaltrials.gov.

It is nearly impossible to discuss the therapeutic benefits of hemp without referencing CBD and THC. These compounds have become the focal point of cannabis and cannabinoid research. As more people learn about CBD and its sister molecule THC, we believe it is important to delve into their origins. This article aims to explore the history of CBD, its journey to becoming an FDA-approved medication, and potential future developments.

How was CBD discovered?

CBD’s discovery stands as an important moment in the history of cannabis research. In 1940, Dr. Roger Adams, an esteemed American organic chemist, and his team achieved a groundbreaking feat by isolating CBD from the cannabis plant. Dr. Roger and his team isolated CBD alongside CBN (cannabinol) from the hemp plant and also proposed the possible existence of THC, the psychoactive compound in hemp.

This marked the initial step in unraveling the complex chemical composition of cannabis. However, it wasn't until 1963 that the full structure of CBD was determined, with Israeli organic chemist Raphael Mechoulam and his colleagues playing a crucial role in this endeavor.

The subsequent decades witnessed a deepening understanding of cannabinoids and their interactions with the human body. The discovery of the endocannabinoid system (ECS) in the 1980s shed light on the existence of receptors, namely CB1 and CB2, which respond to cannabinoids like CBD. This revelation fueled a surge of interest in the medicinal potential of cannabis.

Fast forward to 2018, and CBD achieved a significant milestone with the approval of Epidiolex by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). This marked the first approval of a medication derived from CBD, specifically for the treatment of certain forms of epilepsy.

How CBD gained acceptance as a treatment for epilepsy; the inspiring story of Charlotte Figi

The story of Charlotte and CBD is deeply connected to the popularization of CBD as a potential treatment for epilepsy, particularly in children. Charlotte Figi, born in 2006, suffered from Dravet syndrome, a rare and severe form of epilepsy that begins in infancy. Her parents, Matt and Paige Figi, sought numerous treatments for Charlotte's debilitating seizures, but traditional medications proved ineffective and had significant side effects.

In their quest for a solution, the Figis turned to CBD-rich cannabis extracts, specifically a strain with low THC and high CBD content. The strain was later named "Charlotte's Web" in honor of Charlotte Figi. Remarkably, after using CBD oil derived from the Charlotte's Web strain, Charlotte's seizures reportedly reduced dramatically. Her story gained widespread attention through media coverage, documentaries, and social media, becoming a symbol of hope for families battling with similar challenges.

Charlotte's success with CBD brought attention to the potential therapeutic benefits of CBD, particularly in the context of epilepsy and seizure disorders. It played a crucial role in changing perceptions surrounding cannabis, leading to increased interest in CBD as a medicinal compound. Additionally, Charlotte's story prompted legislative changes in various regions, paving the way for more widespread access to CBD-based treatments.

Tragically, Charlotte Figi passed away in April 2020 at the age of 13. However, her legacy lives on, and the impact of her story continues to shape the discourse around CBD, medical cannabis, and the pursuit of alternative treatments for epilepsy and other medical conditions.

CBD in the world today

CBD, as of 2023, maintained widespread popularity for its perceived health benefits and versatility as a wellness supplement. As of January 2024, 327 clinical trials related to CBD have been registered on clinicaltrials.gov. These trials are aimed at exploring the effective roles of CBD in several conditions including pain relief, mental disorders, cancer, and other conditions.
The CBD market is actively growing with a broad array of products, including oils, capsules, edibles, and topicals. CBD's applications has expanded beyond traditional formats, incorporating beverages, skincare items, and pet treats. Ongoing research is exploring CBD’s effectiveness in managing conditions such as anxiety, pain, and neurodegenerative disorders, contributing to an evolving understanding of its mechanisms.

Want to Learn More?

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Millar, S. A., Stone, N. L., Bellman, Z. D., Yates, A. S., & England, T. J. (2019). A systematic review of cannabidiol dosing in clinical populations. British Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, 85(9), 1888-1900. https://doi.org/10.1111/bcp.14038

Morel, A., Lebard, P., Dereux, A., Azuar, J., Questel, F., Bellivier, F., Fatséas, M., Vorspan, F., & Bloch, V. (2021). Clinical Trials of Cannabidiol for Substance Use Disorders: Outcome Measures, Surrogate Endpoints, and Biomarkers. Frontiers in Psychiatry, 12, 565617. https://doi.org/10.3389/fpsyt.2021.565617

Bridgeman MB, Abazia DT. Medicinal Cannabis: History, Pharmacology, And Implications for the Acute Care Setting. P T. 2017 Mar;42(3):180-188. PMID: 28250701; PMCID: PMC5312634.

The content on Nesa's Hemp blog is for educational purposes only. We meticulously research and cite our sources, but advise consulting a professional before making decisions based on our information. We derive our content from reputable studies and publications, but individual circumstances may vary. We cannot guarantee the accuracy or applicability of our content to every situation. Nesa's Hemp blog and its authors are not liable for any loss or inconvenience resulting from reliance on our information. By using our blog, you waive any claims against us regarding the accuracy or completeness of our content.

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