Brief History of Cannabis:
Cannabis plants are composed of over 60 naturally occurring, active compounds called cannabinoids. Cannabidiol (CBD) is but one of those compounds. CBD contains no psychoactive properties, so you never experience an altered state of consciousness when using CBD. More often than not, when you think about marijuana, you are actually thinking about its most potent and active chemical, Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). THC is the most well-known cannabinoid, largely attributed as the source of the plant’s psychoactive properties.
By undergoing a CBD-based wellness therapy, you can enjoy the benefits of marijuana without the psychoactive effect. To understand this more fully, we have to understand a little bit more about Marijuana. Marijuana, or Cannabis Sativa / Cannabis Indica / Cannabis Ruderalis, is different than most everyday (hermaphroditic) plants in that it does not reproduce with itself. No, marijuana is
dioecious, meaning there are male and female marijuana plants. Male marijuana plants are commonly known as hemp. When you think marijuana, you are, in fact, referring to the female marijuana plants. All male marijuana plants are affectionately nicknamed “Hemp”. Both hemp and marijuana have CBD. Only marijuana has THC in addition to CBD.
It wasn’t until 6,000 BCE that societies based in modern-day China identified that the cannabis plant is dioecious. The male side of the plant was used for industrial industries, such as paper and clothing, and the female was utilized for pain management and other irritations.
Cannabis artifacts have even been found in Ancient Greece, where it is believed cannabis was planted in and around burial sites. In 16th century A.D., King Henry VIII of England actually required the cultivation of hemp, as it was a valuable resource, used to make clothing as well as building materials. Their colonists across the Atlantic followed suit, with the Virginia Assembly mandatory cultivation of hemp in 1619.
In 1940, an American-born chemist, Roger Adams, and his colleagues, were the first to isolate the CBD compound. Twenty-four years later, Raphael Mechoulam, an Israeli scientist,known as the “father of cannabis” isolated the THC compound, as well as expanding upon theentire cannabidiol structure. Dr. Mechoulam advanced the (now widely accepted) theory that cannabidiol and most other cannabinoids are not psychoactive. Because of Dr. Mechoulam’s research on the medical benefits of CBD, there was an unprecedented groundswell of CBD research in the 1970s. However, the politics just weren’t there, and CBD research withered.
Then, in the 1980s, US President Ronald Reagan spent tens of millions of dollars on a study that supposedly “proved” that marijuana damages the human brain. Never able to show exactly how marijuana harms the brain, the Reagan administration settled for the second best, subsidizing a series of studies culminating in the discovery of a whole new neurological subsystem within the body: the endocannabinoid system.
Timeline of Endocannabinoid System Research
- 1964: Isolation and definition of the structure of THC
- 1990: CB-1 receptor cloned and shown to interact with THC
- 1992: the endocannabinoid, anandamide, was discovered
- 1992: CB-2 receptor discovered with distribution mainly in tissues with immune functions
- 1992: System is stimulated by two endocannabinoids, Anandamide and 2-arachidonyl glyceryl ether, perhaps others 1993: CB-1 receptors discovered to have psychoactive potential and are located
primarily in the central nervous system
- 1993: CB-2 receptors are generally peripheral in their actions on body defenses, cellular and humoral functions, gastrointestinal functions, and pain regulation. 1994: G-coupled receptors in the CNS (CB-1 receptors) are found with high density in areas of the brain that exert control over movement, pleasure, learning, memory, and pain. These areas include the basal ganglia, hippocampus, frontal
cortex, and cerebellum.
- 1996: CB-1 and CB-2 receptor actions are involved in many physiological processes including coordination, motor tone, suppression of upper motor neuron functions, tracking behavior, food intake, pain pathways, and so forth.