What is CBD?

CBD, a brief history

CBD has a long and rich history with mankind. Humans have been cultivating cannabis since almost 4000 years BCE. In 1533, scientists and physicians began studying the medical benefits of cannabis. In the mid-1950s, when scientists could extract cannabidiol and prove that CBD is a non-psychoactive component of the cannabis plant, the study and subsequent legal battle for CBD began. Now, almost 6000 years since the cannabis cultivation, it is now legal in many parts of Europe and other continents. It is now legal in all 50 states of the US and the FDA (food drug administration) has begun to review CBD as a medicine.

Cannabis and hemp come from the same plant,Cannabis sativa. However, the cultivation and use of the plant determine whether the plant is the colloquial cannabis (your everyday pot) or more industrial hemp (used in textiles, papers, and ropes). Early Chinese records show hemp as a primary crop: “‘From the time of the earliest primitive societies (about 4,000–5,000 years ago) to the Qin and Han dynasties (221 BC to 220 AD) ancient Chinese techniques of hemp sowing, cultivation, and processing developed rapidly and became fairly advanced’’’. In fact, the Xia Xiao Zheng (the oldest recorded agricultural treatise) referred to hemp as one of the main crops grown in China.

Records from 1533 show that King Henry VIII required that for every 60 acres of land, each farmer must set aside ¼ acre for hemp cultivation (otherwise face a fine of three shillings and four pence). Similarly, in colonial America, it was illegal for farmers to not grow hemp. Founding Father Thomas Jefferson demanded that an “acre of the best ground” be kept to grow hemp. Colonists came to America on ships that used hemp ropes and drafted the Constitution on hemp paper. Cannabis continued to spread and grow throughout the world, with both its industrial and psychoactive effects being noted.

Although cannabis has been central to the development of mankind, the legal and medical uses of CBD seen today are a more recent phenomenon.  As early as 1563, Portuguese physician Garcia da Orta observed that: “Those of my servants who took it … said that it made them so as not to feel work, to be very happy, and to have a craving for food”. Around the same time, Chinese doctor Li Shizhen documented the anti-nausea effects of cannabis. A common story is that Queen Victoria used to smoke cannabis in order to ease her menstrual cramps!

The TRUE history of CBD did not start until 1940 when American organic chemist Roger Adams isolated the CBD compound, but he was not able to determine what he had isolated. In 1960, Israeli organic chemist Raphael Mechoulam both isolated and described the chemical structure of CBD, thus enabling chemists to confirm that CBD was a non-psychoactive constituent of cannabis. By the mid-1970s, the British Pharmacopoeia was referring to CBD tinctures for medical use.

CBD, nowadays

Nowadays it’s in our coffees, lunches and moisturisers, CBD has officially captured the wallets of millions. Once a controversial substance, due to its association with cannabis, products like CBD oil (also known as cannabis oil or cannabidiol) have soared in popularity. According to the Cannabis Trades Association UK, the number of cannabidiol consumers shot from 125,000 in 2017 to 250,000 in 2018. Cannabis-derived products are gaining increased recognition for their medical usages. Last year a report by the World Health Organisation (WHO) revealed CBD may help treat symptoms relating to Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease, MS, pain, anxiety, depression, cancer and diabetic complications.

But what exactly is CBD oil, and can it really make a difference to our health?

Here’s everything you need to know. When did cannabis become a medicine?Cannabis has been used as a medicine for thousands of years all over the world, including China, India and the Middle East. It was a common form of medication in the UK and like written above, it was even administered to Queen Victoria to relieve her period pain.

Cannabis legalisation in the UK

Cannabis was made illegal in the UK in 1928 following an international drug conference in Geneva when an Egyptian delegate convinced everybody that it was a threat to society and as dangerous as opium. The 1968 Wootton Report was a Home Office investigation into the effects of cannabis that concluded: “There is no evidence that this activity is causing violent crime or aggression, anti-social behaviour, or is producing in otherwise normal people conditions of dependence or psychosis requiring medical treatment.”

Fifty years later, despite cannabis still being illegal in the UK as a recreational drug, there’s been a huge spike in interest towards CBD oil and hemp-infused products.

CBD can relieve cancer pain, treat childhood epilepsy and support mental health.

CBD, also known as cannabidiol, is one of 104 chemical compounds found in the marijuana plant. Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is the main psychoactive substance found in cannabis. Unlike cannabis oil, which often contains high levels of THC, CBD contains less than 0.2% of the psychoactive substance. CBD is thought to have significant therapeutic properties – but researchers are still working hard to understand the specifics.

What is CBD used to treat? Can it alleviate pain?

Last year, the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) classed CBD as medicine, providing it meets a strict set of “safety, quality and efficiency standards”. Roger G Pertwee, a professor at the Institute of Medical Sciences at the University of Aberdeen, said CBD is present in two medicines available in the UK – Sativex and Epidiolex. He said: “Sativex is used to relieve cancer pain and treat multiple sclerosis, whilst Epidiolex is used to treat childhood epilepsy.”

Can CBD treat mental health problems or insomnia?

Professor Philip McGuire, Head of Department of Psychosis Studies at King’s College London, claims CBD has the potential to treat mental health problems. He said: “CBD may be useful as a treatment for patients with psychotic symptoms like paranoia and anxiety, as well as depression. “The effectiveness of CBD in this area is currently being evaluated in clinical trials at King’s College London.”

Can CBD cure cancer?

According to Professor Pertwee: “There is some published evidence that CBD has anti-cancer effects. “Together with collaborators, we have also obtained preclinical evidence that CBD would reduce cancer chemotherapy-induced nausea and vomiting.”

Will CBD oil get you high?

No – CBD oil is missing a crucial component that gives cannabis its psychotic effects, THC. Professor McGuire says: “Unless it contains significant amounts of THC, CBD won’t get you high.”