The Discovery of CBD: A Brief Overview

Cannabis, also known as marijuana, is a flowering plant known for its recreational, spiritual, and medicinal properties. Cannabidiol, known as CBD, is only one of over a hundred chemical compounds – called cannabinoids – found in the cannabis plant. Unlike its other famous counterpart, THC, CBD is not a psychoactive agent, meaning that it does not act on the state of mind of the user – in other words, it doesn’t give them a ‘high.’

A Little Bit of Medical History

Across the globe, marijuana has been cultivated for thousands of years and used for its many healing properties. The earliest recorded medicinal uses date as far back as 1400-2000 BC. William Osler – a “Father of Modern Medicine” whose 1892 textbook ‘The Principles and Practice of Medicine’ became the dominant medical text in the English-speaking world – was a proponent of the medicinal use of cannabis, for he believed the plant was an effective treatment for migraines.

The Discovery of CBD

CBD was first discovered by Dr. Roger Adams – an organic chemist who dedicated several studies to understanding the chemical mechanisms by which cannabis Sativa affects the brain – and his team at the University of Illinois in 1940. He was the first person to extract CBD successfully from the cannabis plant, although he wasn’t aware of his success until years later.

In 1946, CBD research began when Dr. Walter S. Lowe started conducting laboratory tests on the effects of CBD, proving that it had no mind-altering effects. The full chemical structure, however, was not fully interpreted until around 1963. Although CBD was scientifically discovered more than 20 years prior to the discovery of THC, the latter has been dominating cannabis research efforts until recently.

Legal Obstacles

The “Marijuana Tax Act” was passed in 1937 in the United States, representing the government’s first step towards regulating and taxing the production of hemp and marijuana for industrial and medicinal purposes. In 1969, the Act was ruled unconstitutional, and shortly after, marijuana was criminalized. As a result, research in regards to the medicinal qualities of the plant was effectively halted for decades.


As a natural alternative to chemically developed medications, CBD has proven to assist as an anxiolytic in battling PTSD, panic disorder, social anxiety disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder – something users can confirm, by exploring the range of products in the CBD marketplace and test it for themselves. It also serves as a painkiller and anti-inflammatory agent, reducing smoking and drug withdrawal symptoms, and treating two rare conditions characterized by epileptic seizures: Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS) and Dravet syndrome (DS).

In addition to the proven medicinal benefits listed above, studies now continue to take place to further explore the uses of CBD in the reduction, control and treatment of other health conditions such as acne and other skin challenges, type 1 diabetes, neurodegeneration, neuronal injury, psychiatric disorders, cancer, as well as Alzheimer’s disease, to name a few.

Discoveries About the CBD Mechanism of Action

After the discovery of CBD, scientific researchers continued to reveal its chemical characteristics and mode of action on the human body. While the body naturally produces certain cannabinoids on its own, it was found to have two receptors for cannabinoids: CB1 and CB2 receptors. All cannabinoids, including CBD, follow a course of action in the body that’s initiated upon their attachment to these receptors.  You can also consider legal Delta 8 gummies as well.

While CB1 receptors are spread out throughout the whole body, many of them are specifically nestled within the brain and are directly related to functions like coordination and movement, emotions and mood, thinking and memories, as well as appetite, among others. These receptors are specific to THC, allowing it to have its known psychoactive effects. CB2 receptors are found to be more prevalent throughout the immune system, affecting the functions like inflammation and pain.

Some researchers are convinced that CBD plays its therapeutic role by attaching to the CB2 receptors. In contrast, others have reason to believe that it does not attach directly to either of the receptors at all, but instead, directs the body to use more of its own cannabinoids. While research is still underway to help scientists understand the exact route CBD takes to produce its effects, it has been shown to affect the cannabinoid cycle within the body, allowing for its benefits to work.

With all the benefits that CBD promises to carry and the plethora of health uses that can create breakthroughs in the medical realm, it only makes sense that we would be interested in finding out more about this versatile substance’s discovery and history. We hope that this article helped you know more, and decide on where to research next.