A Brief History of CBD: Cannabidiol in Ancient Time

CBD has become a much more familiar name in the West recently. People are using it for various reasons, including physical discomfort, stress, etc. CBD is also available in many forms, such as CBD oil, cosmetics, gums, and other things.

Most people get good results while using the products and most experience no side effects. Many believe CBD will bring about a revolution in the medical industry. 

An interesting fact about CBD is that it is not a new invention. People have been using it in the form of cannabis since ancient times. In this article, you will get to know about the history of CBD from ancient times to its evolution in the present time.

Table of Content

What Is CBD?

CBD is a cannabinoid that is found in hemp and can potentially contribute to improving your life standard. Hemp is a botanical class of Cannabis sativa cultivars. You can find more than a hundred cannabinoids in Sativa plants, and CBD is one of them.

What Is CBD?
What Is CBD?

Recently,  science has discovered that our body has an endocannabinoid system called the ECS, a group of neuromodulatory lipids. Cannabinoids interact with our ECS to help adjust and balance body systems.

CBD oil has become very popular lately as it may help solve different issues of everyday life. But its use is not a new thing. The root of CBD goes back ages.

History of CBD in the Ancient Times

CBD has been in use since ancient times, though at that time it was not known as CBD. But the use of CBD can be traced back to old India, the middle east, Siberia, Mongolia, and some other parts of central Asia. 

History of CBD in the Ancient Time
History of CBD in the Ancient Times

During this time, they did not know about CBD. However, they figured out that cannabis plants can be used for several health issues. It inspired them to grow cannabis plants. The history of CBD lies in the history of cannabis.

History of CBD in Siberia and Mongolia

Archaeologists believe that Siberians and Mongolians were harvesting and growing cannabis plants in 12000 BCE. Many archaeologists claim that cannabis Sativa plants are among the first plant’s people started harvesting.

History of CBD in Siberia and Mongolia
History of CBD in Siberia and Mongolia

Cannabis played a huge role in the development of early civilization. It became an inseparable part of their life. They used it in food, clothes, and in religious ceremonies.

In China, people cultivated cannabis plants for oil and seed and used them as food. Their curious minds wanted to learn about other benefits of cannabis plants, and soon they discovered that they could use it for self-care. Many experts believe that by 2737 BCE, people started to use cannabis for self-care in China. 

There is strong evidence that Emperor Shen-Neng drank cannabis-infused tea to recover his health. Shen-Neng was born in the 29th century BCE and is known as the father of Chinese medicine. Shen-Neng introduced cannabis as a medicine that would help people in balancing, and soon it became popular in China.

So, you can see that the use of cannabis dates back thousands of years. But the Mongolian and Siberians were not the only people using cannabis during this time. It was equally a vital part of the Indian people.

History of CBD in Ancient India

It is hard to say when the use of cannabis exactly started in India. However, historians agree that in 2000 and 1000 BCE, cannabis became more important in the Indian subcontinent as it was linked with religion by then. People would use cannabis during religious and annual ceremonies. 

History of CBD in Ancient India
History of CBD in Ancient India

The “Arthveda” is an essential book in the Hindu religion that describes the daily problems of Vedic spirituality. The book has a distinct part called “Ayurveda,” which is a storehouse of knowledge regarding using natural elements as medicine. It mentions cannabis and other four plants as “five sacred plants.” 

The Arthveda praises the cannabis plants highly. It referred to the plant as a “liberator” that can liberate people from earthly engagements and focus on their spiritual part of life. The book instructs how to use cannabis and get the best effect.

Indians began to use cannabis in weddings, and other festivals to honor the God Shiva, who is a part of the Hindu trinity. The tradition still continues in most parts of India, where people offer cannabis to Shiva on Shivratri. 

Several sources show that in ancient India, cannabis was used in three forms, Bhang and Soma, and, most popularly, Ganja. Bhang was edible, and people used it with a drink. On the other hand, Soma is a juice made through the stalks. People would smoke its top and leaves.

Cannabis was also crucial in Tantric Hinduism. Basically, in ancient India, cannabis was popular because of its ability to make people high, as they believed that getting high would help them to reach a higher spiritual state. 

Ordinary people started using cannabis as it helped them to concentrate, focus, and awareness. Many would use it before sexual intercourse as they felt more substantial and better after taking cannabis, and it improved their sexual experience.

You must note that CBD is not responsible for making people high, it is the contribution of mostly THC. 

History of Cannabis in The Middle East

Recently many brands have been introducing CBD cosmetics or skin care products. You may be surprised that this is not a new discovery of CBD usage. People in ancient Egypt had already used it for skin care centuries ago.

History of Cannabis in the Middle East
History of Cannabis in the Middle East

Ramses II, the Pharaoh who ruled Egypt from 1279-1213 BCE, used cannabis regularly. He also inspired others to use cannabis. In other words, Ramses II made cannabis more popular in ancient Egypt. 

An interesting fact is that when Ramses II died, people buried cannabis with him, as he loved the plant. People in Egypt also made buildings and textiles using cannabis plants. 

Arabic or other scientists also promoted the use of cannabis. Muslim scientists were the first to discover that many components actively influence the effect of cannabis. It brought about a revolution for cannabis. 

Cannabis was regarded as sacred in many religions, and people would bury cannabis plants or oil under temples as they believed the fragrance of cannabis would please God. Cannabis was discovered in the temples of Babylon and Assyria. 

It is clear that cannabis was an essential aspect of spirituality in ancient times. People would also use it for some physical benefits.

History of Hemp Prohibition

People regarded cannabis highly in ancient times. However, during the 1300s, the use of cannabis was banned. It all started when Soudoun Sheikouni, the then Emir of  Arab, prohibited the use of cannabis. 

History of Hemp Prohibition
History of Hemp Prohibition

King Andrianampoinimerina banned the consumption of cannabis in the late eighteenth century and spread this throughout the Merina Kingdom. Anyone who used cannabis in the kingdom during this time would have to face capital punishment. 

Napoleon, too, was not in favor of cannabis use. He declared cannabis banned among his soldiers at the beginning of the nineteenth century. By the end of the century, the European colonies prohibited the use of cannabis for ordinary people too.

At the same time, Islamic countries were banning the use of cannabis plants too. It got banned even in Egypt, where the plant was historically rooted. The banning of cannabis continued in the early 1900s when many states of the USA banned the use of cannabis.

However, CBD was not banned anywhere, as people did not know about cannabidiol before 1940. The use of cannabis was getting banned due to its psychoactive effects which are caused by THC that was only discovered in the mid-1960s.

Recent History of Cannabis in America

By now, most Americans have heard of CBD. However, this was not the case even three years ago. Now it is everywhere. So, most Americans think it is a new invention. However, CBD has been in use in the form of cannabis.

Recent History of Cannabis in America
Recent History of Cannabis in America

Hemp was in use in Asian countries for food, and it became involved with religion and festivals. However, in America, hemp was cultivated mainly for fiber. Hemp was economically profitable, and it became crucial in states like Virginia and Georgia after the revolution.

Hemp was also used during this time to make paper. The Declaration of the United States of America was written on hemp paper. Hemp kept spreading till the mid-twentieth century.

Discovery of CBD

You can see that people used CBD in ancient times in the form of cannabis and did not know about CBD specifically. So, how did the component come into existence? It was only in the last century that scientists identified CBD in cannabis.

Discovery of CBD
Discovery of CBD

The study of chemistry and biology developed a lot in the 19th and 20th centuries. Scientists were doing advanced research on different things. They wanted to know more about nature. And it brought cannabis plants to attention.

Roger Adams first discovered CBD, or cannabidiol, in cannabis plants in 1940. Roger took the study of cannabis to an advanced level. He successfully isolated CBD and another component called CBN from the hemp plant and also gave ideas about THC. In 1964,  Raphael Mechoulam isolated THC and proved Adams right.

So, from the cannabis history in America you can see that despite being used for thousands of years, the concept of CBD is new for people as it was only invented less than a century ago. 

Restriction and 2018 Farm Bill

However, in the 20th century, some activist groups demanded a ban on marijuana; based on the “harmful effects” of intoxicating cannabis that contain a large amount of THC. But, the activists asked for a ban on all kinds of hemp.

Restriction and 2018 Farm Bill
Restriction and 2018 Farm Bill

Many intentional lies and racist propaganda, like the Reefer Madness film, fueled the movement. A group of people spread information that there was no difference between hemp and marijuana.

Common people got confused and got involved in the movement. It led to the Marijuana Tax Act of 1937. According to the act, only hemp that had been approved and taxed by the government could be grown or sold. 

Thankfully, in 1940, CBD was discovered. This discovery interested scientists for more research and testing. By the mid-sixties, both THC and CBD were found and isolated from the cannabis plant.

However, in 1970, when the “War on Drugs” was at its peak, Federal policies virtually banned the production of industrial hemp. 

The 2018 Farm Bill was significant for the reindustrialization of cannabis and cannabinoid. The 2018 Farm Bill modified the federal hemp policy, including the removal of hemp from the Controlled Substances Act and the classification of hemp as an agricultural product. 

The bill legalized hemp under specific scenarios and defined hemp as Cannabis sativa L. with a delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) concentration of less than 0.3 percent on a dry weight basis.

Current Use of CBD

At the present time, people believe it can help them stay stress-free and focused in their activities. CBD products help to get rid of different health issues like- stress and discomfort.


CBD has been in use for thousands of years. The history of CBD shows that people might not specifically know it, but CBD was an essential part of their lives. In modern times, some misunderstandings led to the ban on cannabis. However, with the development of modern science, people’s knowledge about CBD has increased, and it is now becoming more popular by the day.


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