The usage and cultivation of the hemp plant has been documented in human history for over 10,000 years. There have been references to the plant being used as a source of food and fiber in ancient China and Mesopotamia. A robust fiber, hemp was used to create rope, fabric, and paper. From 2700 BC through to the time of the Roman Empire, the seeds and flower were being used to provide medicinal treatment and alleviation from a variety of ailments. Many instances across different civilizations, hemp crops were even required to be grown on farmland. Records show that King Henry VIII required that a quarter acre of land per 60 acres would be dedicated to hemp cultivation.
As history progressed, the use of cannabis for medicinal purposes became more commonplace. One such example comes from the 16th-century doctor in China, Li Shizhen, who documented the anti-nausea effects of the plant. Around the same time, English travelers of the Far East were reporting its use to treat earache and jaundice, as recorded in the Herbal of Dioscorides from 60 AD. Nicholas Culpeper, a notable English physician and herbalist wrote in his pharmacopeia that the use of cannabis "allayeth inflammations, easeth the pain of gout, tumors or knots of joints, pain of hips..." Another common anecdote is the usage of cannabis by Queen Victoria, who smoked marijuana to ease the pain of her menstrual cramps.
Despite the documentation of human cannabis usage for several thousands of years, CBD was first isolated from the hemp plant and discovered in 1940 by Roger Adams, a prominent American organic chemist. Although Adams had isolated the compound, it would be another 20 years until Israeli organic chemist Raphael Mechoulam would determine what exactly it was that Adams had discovered. In 1960 Mechoulam isolated and described CBD’s molecular structure, and confirmed it as a non-psychoactive component of the cannabis plant.
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