A Brief History of CBD - FOCL

A Brief History of CBD

The CBD world has changed a lot in the last few years. 

Since the passing of the Farm Bill in 2018, which legalized, on a federal level, the regulated production of hemp or any part of the cannabis plant with a THC concentration below 0.3%, CBD has undoubtedly been on the rise. 

But there are quite a few caveats. One being that this bill really does not make CBD legal everywhere, because each individual state has the final say in whether or not cannabis-derived products are legal within their state lines. Confusing! 

So with all of these nuanced rules and regulations, it can beg the question: where did CBD come from and why is it all of the sudden so popular?

At the most basic level, CBD became increasingly popular because of the new legality following the Farm Bill. 

With cannabis illegal in the United States for so long, there was some hesitancy and push back against what exactly CBD would do to the body. However, these CBD nay-sayers seem to dwindle more and more by the day, as availability and more information about it becomes available. 

And while there is no definitive proof as to why CBD got so popular, we like to think it’s because of its incredible effects. Now if you know anything about CBD, you know that people are using it for lots of reasons. 

Some of the most common being: 

  • anxiety
  • relaxation
  • pain relief
  • sleep
  • focus
  • achy muscles and joints

But if CBD can help all of these different ailments, why have we not been using it for generations? And to that point: the United States perhaps hasn’t, but other parts of the world most certainly have. 


Ancient use of cannabidiol

Cannabis sativa plants grow naturally in many parts of Asia. 

The oil and seeds from cannabis plants have been used as a food source in China since 6000 BCE. In using the plant as a food source, people began to recognize and research the potential balancing effects of the plant and recorded their findings.

So much so that the first documented use of CBD as a form of self-care dates back to 2737 BCE!

The Chinese were the first to discover the medicinal properties of the cannabis plant. Emperor Fu His referenced the healing properties of cannabis as early as 2900 BCE.

Emperor Sheng Nung allegedly used cannabis to treat a range of medical issues around 2700 BCE, including absent-mindedness, gout, malaria, menstrual issues, rheumatism, and others - ailments that many use the cannabis plant for today too!

The plant’s popularity as a medicine spread throughout Asia, the Middle East, and down the eastern coast of Africa. 

But because we are talking about 1000s of years ago, it can get muddy when we try to infer if these ancient people were using the medicinal effects of CBD or THC, because these cannabinoids do indeed come from the same plant. 


CBD vs. THC 

As a reminder,  CBD stands for cannabidiol. It is one of more than 100 cannabinoids found in the Cannabis Sativa plant. Tetrahydrocannabinol, or THC, is yet another cannabinoid found in the Cannabis plant. 

Both hemp and marijuana belong to the same genus and species: the Cannabis Sativa plant. The chemical profiles of both varieties are qualitatively similar, but quantitatively different. What that means is that the main difference between the two is the THC and CBD content. 

THC is the predominant cannabinoid in marijuana, and CBD the most prominent cannabinoid in hemp. The Farm Bill that we discussed earlier allows the production of “any part of the cannabis plant with a THC concentration below 0.3%,” which tends to mean hemp, since there is a higher concentration of THC in marijuana.

For this reason, CBD is often sourced from hemp plants these days, but no one really knows what specific plant of the Cannabis sativa family the ancient people were using. What we do know is that the plant was used as medicine and helped people feel better. 



Which brings us to the world of CBD today. Since 1940, when Roger Adams isolated CBD and CBN (cannabinol) from the hemp plant and became known as the discoverer of CBD, the CBD world has grown immensely. 

And while we have Adams to thank for his scientific process, we have the ancient Asian civilizations to thank for their initial documentation and true discovery. 

Fortunately, the Farm Bill allowed for more widespread availability and use of CBD for the various reasons listed above. So whichever way you slice it, the cannabis plant has been used for centuries for its medicinal properties, and we’re grateful to finally be able (on a legal level) to use it the same way again!