Cannabis Use Throughout History: How We Came to Love CBD

Recently, purekana cbd oil and other CBD supplement products have gained a tremendous amount of attention, quickly becoming one of the most widely used natural supplements. CBD is not new, though; people have been using the cannabinoids contained with cannabis plants throughout history for their healing properties.

Historians have found evidence that CBD and cannabis plants may have been used as far back as 2700 BC. It is thought that the Cannabis sativa’s medical benefits were first discovered in China and were used orally in order to benefit from the plant’s healing powers.

Recent advances in medical research and technology have allowed us as a society to take this historical remedy and turn it into something that can be quickly and widely used in the 21st century. Unlike the ancient Chinese, we can now find a CBD product for almost every situation, ranging from CBD oil drop to CBD lip balms and infused coffee beans.

Despite receiving a fantastic amount of media attention recently, there is very little focus on CBD and cannabis plants in general. This is a shame, as understanding how the natural remedies that we use today first started can teach us a great deal and affect the way that we use them today.

The Different Ways That Cannabis Has Been Used Throughout History

2700 BC China

Historians have found evidence that one of the main reasons cannabis was used back in 2700 BC China was to stimulate a person’s appetite. A loss of appetite is a pretty common side effect of many illnesses, and while the science may not have been fully understood at the time, the people of China knew that eating was a necessity for healing and recovery.

Another reason that cannabis plants were potentially used is for their hallucinatory properties. The intoxicated state felt when ingesting and consuming THC-rich cannabis extract would not have been fully understood at the time. Still, the plant’s positive and uplifting effects would have produced similar effects to those felt today.

It is believed that the Chinese Emperor, Shen Nung, enjoyed the benefits of CBD and THC by drinking cannabis-infused tea.

The Victorian Era

Jumping forward in time to the reign of Queen Victoria in the UK, historians have found evidence that the queen herself used CBD to alleviate cramps and generalized pain. Despite being used by the queen, CBD was still not something that was widely discussed, understood, or even used. It is likely that Queen Victoria found it to be personally beneficial, but was not aware of why this was the case.

William B. O’Shaughnessy, in 1839, is thought to have been one of the first physicians to carry out medical research into CBD and its potential benefits. Unfortunately, his research was not widely known about and, at the time, had minimal impact on the medical community.

The 1940s

It was not until the 1940s that William B. O’Shaughnessy’s research was truly taken seriously and had a real impact on the medical world. O’Shaughnessy had managed to show that cannabis could be used for a number of medical applications, particularly as an anesthetic. What he failed to do, however, was given an explanation as to why this was the case. 

In the ‘40s, Robert S. Cahn was the first researcher to discover and provide evidence that cannabis plants contained different cannabinoids. Cahn’s research primarily focused on cannabinol (CBN), but he opened the floodgates for further studies.

Two years after Robert Cahn’s discovery, the American chemist Roger Adams successfully isolated the cannabinoid cannabidiol (CBD). During the course of his many studies, he also managed to discover and isolate tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). These discoveries led to an increased interest in cannabis plants and their potential benefits.

Initial Studies

Over the following decades, researches became ever more interested in cannabis and were mainly focused on isolating different cannabinoids and linking them to specific effects.

The first real breakthrough was in the 1960s with the successful identification of CBD’s stereochemistry, shortly followed by the stereochemistry of THC. Being able to link particular effects to an individual cannabinoid allowed scientists to create a divide between the plant’s psychoactive effects and those with a more medicinal focus.


The study of cannabis and its impact on the medical community took off in the 1980s. For the first time, cannabis was being taken seriously as more than a recreational drug, but something that could positively impact health and wellness.

Dr. Raphael Mechoulam carried out studies into the effects of CBD when treating epilepsy. This study was a breakthrough in both the medical community and cannabis communities and saw the medicinal properties of cannabis being taken seriously for the first time.

Cannabis Today

Thanks to the work of Dr. Mechoulam and the many scientists before (and after) him, we now have a reasonably clear, almost comprehensive understanding of the different cannabinoids contained within cannabis plants and their effects. Over the last few decades, a myriad of studies have investigated all of the different ways that CBD, in particular, can be used within the medical community.

A number of high profile cases that have appeared in the media over the last years are considered to have somewhat been the final piece of the puzzle when it comes to CBD being recognized as a medical tool. People outside of the health and scientific community show greater interest in CBD and how they can incorporate it into their everyday lives.

There has also been a considerable rise in the number of CBD brands on the market. Companies such as PureKana are working to make CBD something that is accessible and not merely reserved for those within the medical world.



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