Cannabis and CBD – A 10,000 Year History

Despite government, medical and even layperson skepticism, the healing Cannabis plant is the real deal. While it may seem like its therapeutic use and ubiquitousness is a fad, in reality its benefits have been acknowledged for thousands of years.

Initially recognized by the Chinese for its nutritional and textile properties as early as 10,000 years ago, the first purely description of the medicinal uses of marijuana dates to Ancient Egypt and the Eber’s Papyrus of 1550 BC, which contains a prescription for the direct application of the weed for treating inflammation.

From that point the Cannabis plant was recommended and used in the East for its wide variety of medical benefits including surgical anesthesia, wound healing and the treatment of health issues ranging from rheumatic pain, intestinal congestion and malaria.

In the 19th century, Western healers started to catch on to the therapeutic potential of the Cannabis plant, first using it for stomach pain and then as a general analgesic. By the late 1800s, Tincture of Cannabis was being sold in pharmacies and doctors’ offices and it was considered a staple of health in home medicine cabinets.

By the 1930’s, there were 2,000 + cannabis-containing products being produced by over 280 manufacturers. Interestingly, Cannabis use began to decline with the introduction of aspirin and then the development on injectable analgesics for pain. Finally, with the federal ban on Cannabis from the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937, medical use of marijuana was essentially eliminated.

Research continued however and in 1946 the important Cannabis constituent CBD was found to be non-psychoactive. This opened the door to scientific study of cannabis and cannabidiol and in the 1960 and 1970s.

As the 1990s rolled around, the cannabinoid cat was out of the bag and states began to challenge the Federal prohibition of the substance, first with legalized, state-regulated medical marijuana, soon followed by legalized recreational marijuana.

These days, CBD-containing products are being used to treat a wide variety of health challenges including anxiety, insomnia, obesity, atherosclerosis and heart disease. Perhaps CBD’s best known role is as an anti-diabetic substance and recently the first FDA approved CBD drug, EpidolexTM was released for the treatment of seizures associated with Lennox-Gastaut syndrome and Dravet syndrome, two rare forms of epilepsy.

One of the most recent therapeutic uses for CBD is in dermatology. Like other cannabinoids, CBD is thought to be an important mediator in skin cell chemistry.

Scientists are currently looking into the possibility that CBD can slow down skin aging, giving the billion-dollar, anti-aging skin care marketplace a possible new ingredient darling.

CBD prevents free radical damage and reduces inflammation making it an ideal active for preventing free-radical damage, reducing the appearance of wrinkles fine lines and photodamage. According to research published in the Proceedings of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, “cannabidiol was more protective against glutamate neurotoxicity than either ascorbate or α-tocopherol, indicating it to be a potent antioxidant.”

The history of Cannabis is as surprising as it is amazing. So much of it is yet to be written.