A History of CBD and Cannabis - both Controversial and Cool

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A History of CBD and Cannabis - both Controversial and Cool

Cannabidiol, or CBD, as it is more commonly known, is extremely prevalent in today's society. It would be incorrect to presume that this is a modern phenomenon, as we can trace the use of CBD back to the ancients, as they used it in abundance during religious practices and rituals. During the 20th century, cannabis (not CBD- there is an important distinction)was extensively demonised and criminalised due to moral panic, however changing laws and further research into the compounds within the plant led to a gradual and widespread liberation. It's a long and fascinating history, and one that we will be examining in this article. Another myth to be addressed is the legality and level of acceptance of compounds such as CBD, as there were early restrictions put in place on cannabis consumption as early as the 1300s. The use of CBD in its many forms is widely accepted today due to the balancing effects of this particular cannabis-derived compound. Make sure to keep reading to discover some of the most popular methods of administration of CBD.  

Ancient times

As we now realise, CBD is no recent phenomenon, as we can trace the use of the cannabis plant back to ancient times, particularly in the Indian subcontinent and in central Asia. Let's examine the use of what we now know as CBD, in ancient times.

Siberia and Mongolia

Siberians and Mongolians were believed to be harvesting and growing cannabis plants in 12000 BCE. In fact, archaeologists widely agree that the cannabis Sativa plant was the first plant to be cultivated during the birth of agriculture. This plant was to play a pivotal role in the development of early civilisation. It made its mark on all the significant areas of life, such as in food, clothes, and in religious ceremonies.

The oil and seeds from cannabis plants have been used as a food source in China since 6000 BCE. They began to research the potential balancing effects of cannabis plants, and they recorded their findings. The first documented use of CBD as a form of self-care dates back to 2737 BCE in China. Emperor Shen-Neng drank tea infused with cannabis to bring his body back into balance once more. This ancient culture soon began including cannabis for balancing purposes, with the Chinese Book of Documents by Shu King, recorded back in 2,300 BCE, best outlining this.


Between 2000 and 1000 BCE, the subcontinental region of India saw a rise of the use of cannabis in both annual celebrations and religious ceremonies. This recording comes from the Atharva Veda, in which cannabis is named as one of the "five sacred plants", and it states that a guardian angel inhabits the leaves of the plant. The Atharva Veda also refers to the cannabis plant as a "liberator" and "joy-giver", demonstrating how they held the plant and its effects in high regard.

Cannabis would be widely consumed during festivals and weddings in order to honour the God Shiva. This God belongs to the holy trinity (Trimurti) in the religion of Hinduism. Today, cannabis is offered to Shiva on Shivaratri day, and there are devotional meetings known as bhajans, where a group will gather to liberally consume cannabis, and Sadhus or Yogis are known to smoke a mixture of the cannabis Sativa plant and tobacco to possibly balance their meditation experience. 

The two most common forms of edible CBD consumption during Ancient times in India are Soma and Bhang. The latter is a form of edible cannabis, and utilises the top of the plant and the leaves, with typically being infused into a drink. Soma is the juice of a plant that is made through the stalks of a plant being squashed between stones. The plant juice is then filtered through the wool of an animal, and finally mixed with milk and water. The cannabis plant quickly became the main ingredient in Soma, as its popularity grew. Like Bhang, Soma is then typically infused into a beverage. Another form of consumption is referred to as ganja, where the top of the plant and leaves are smoked, and, finally, hashish; where the resinous buds are extracted and inhaled. During celebrations and festivals, however, typically Soma or Bhang were favoured.

Cannabis also played a vital role in Tantric Buddhism, which was first developed in medieval India, and then moved to East Asia, Mongolia, and Tibet. This practice is ritualistic, and attempts to channel divine energies. It can include sexual intercourse, but it primarily focuses on meditation, and cannabis was used in connection with these physical (and perhaps spiritual) activities. Individuals also believed that cannabis could heighten awareness of the experience. Therefore, a significant dose would be consumed so that when the individual reached enlightenment, it would coincide with the high from the plant (note: this is one of the areas where cannabis and CBD products differ, due to the lack of the compound THC in CBD products, CBD doesn't get you high like cannabis does).

The Middle East

Interestingly, the first use of cannabis for skincare can be traced all the way back to Ancient Egypt. Pharaoh Ramses II, who governed from 1279-1213 BCE, was an enthusiastic cannabis user, and he encouraged others to make use of the plant. Hemp was also used in the creation of buildings and textiles. His love for the plant even followed him after his death, as oils from the plant were discovered to be buried with him inside his tomb. In the 1990s, a collection of information was published from Balabanova, Parsche, and Nerliche that not only reported Ramses having cannabis in his tomb and remains, but that other mummified Egyptians also had traces of cannabis in their systems. In particular, Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) was likely consumed via inhalation of the cannabis plant. The Egyptians are renowned for their hand in the development of parchment and papyrus scrolls, thus contributing to the spread of knowledge and cultural ideas. They recorded their research into cannabis in scrolls that date back to 2000 BCE, with CBD being referred to as shemshemet in the hieroglyphs.

Cannabis was also widely used and researched in the Middle East, with it becoming part of traditional Arabic culture. Islamic research was much further ahead than the majority of other countries at the time, and their work encouraged the use of cannabis. Islamic physicians built upon the research from the Romans, Greeks, and Indians. They were able to translate the previous research and add to it, as they discovered that the plant itself contained different active components, forever changing how we viewed the plant. Physicians in the Middle East were able to spread the word about the cannabis plant, and their detailed research travelled to other countries and cultures. It is widely accepted that cannabis oil was prevalent in the Middle East both before and after the birth of Christ. Cannabis is referred to in the Hebrew Old Testament, as well as in Aramaic translations (a language used among ancient Arameans) as a form of incense. This incense relates to religious and spiritual attitudes and traditions of the time, as a cannabis incense was burned in the temples of both Babylon and Assyria. The fragrance of the incense was said to please the Gods (and the people nearby likely felt some balancing effects from the CBD in the cannabis plant, too).

CBD in the US and UK

The research undertaken in the Middle East was vital to the discovery and isolation of the cannabis compound, however, it wasn't until 1940 that the British chemist Robert Cahn referred to the partial structure of Cannabinol (CBN). It was two years later, in 1942, that the American chemist, Roger Adams, made the historic discovery of the first cannabinoid, that being Cannabidiol (CBD). His isolation of the compound also led to the discovery of THC, the compound responsible for the "high" feeling provided by THC-full recreational cannabis.  

Early restrictions and attitudes

Surprisingly, cannabis had some very early restrictions placed on its use and cultivation. One of the earliest recorded bans occurred during the 1300s, when Soudoun Sheikouni (the emir of the Joneima, in Arabia) prohibited anyone from consuming it. Further bans took place in 1787, by King Andrianampoinimerina of Madagascar. He actually imposed a widespread ban throughout the Merina Kingdom, with lawbreakers subject to capital punishment. 

European colonial powers also looked unfavourably upon cannabis usage, with Napoleon banning the consumption of cannabis among his soldiers after 1801. In 1870 the Coolie Law Consolidation was passed in Natal, which banned the smoking, use, or possession of and any sale or gift to, any Indian workers whatsoever, of any portion of the cannabis Sativa plant. 

During the late 1800s, several Islamic countries banned cannabis use, and Khedivate of Egypt ceased trade and importing of cannabis in 1879. In 1890, Morocco implemented strict laws for cultivation and trade, whilst still allowing a small portion of people to produce the plant. The beginning of the 20th century saw more countries ban cannabis. The District of Columbia in the US saw the first cannabis restrictions in 1906, and it was outlawed in Jamaica in 1913, as well as in New Zealand and the UK in the 1920s.

War on Drugs

It was not until the mid- 20th century that the popularity of cannabis truly expanded into the mainstream populations. Negative perceptions of the drug were particularly rife in the US, with cannabis being demonised as a recreational drug both in the US and UK. It became unfairly fundamentally linked to African-American and Mexican communities, promoted by media coverage of events such as the 1950 police raid of Club Eleven, where cocaine and cannabis were recovered. Youth counter-culture witnessed a dramatic increase in cannabis usage, and this only contributed more to its perceived negative image. As part of the US 'War on Drugs' the US government applied pressure to various countries recognised for producing cannabis during the 1970s and 1980s. A prime example of this occurred when they supplied Afghanistan with 47 million dollars for the abolition of cannabis and opioids.

Present-day use of CBD

It is a very different story today, as the use of CBD has become widely accepted. CBD is essentially a refined component of the cannabis Sativa plant, with products typically containing a mixture of all-natural compounds and only trace amounts of THC. This modern acceptance of CBD comes for several reasons, however primarily is due to further understanding of the compound, combined with the legislation of its use in many countries. For example, in the UK, the use of CBD is legal, but products need to contain 0.2% THC or less, according to the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971. Furthermore, you should not be able to isolate the THC from the oil, and the CBD needs to be derived from an industrial strain of hemp that has approval from the EU. In the US, the laws are a little more complex, as in some states (Iowa, Idaho and South Dakota) CBD is entirely illegal. While it is legal to consume in other states, there is legislation pertaining to the manner in which you can consume it. For example, in Kentucky, CBD-infused tea is prohibited, while in Arizona, you can't consume CBD via food and beverages. Overall, its legal status varies according to where you live. Therefore, it should be encouraged that you conduct your own research before making any CBD-based purchase.

Methods of administration

There are a myriad of methods of administration of CBD today, with some being more prevalent than others. Here, we will examine the main methods of consumption, as it will allow you to make a judgement for yourself.

  •         CBD oil: CBD oil is a quick and easy way of adding CBD to your routine. Simply place a few drops underneath your tongue, or blend it into your favourite drink or food. Here at MANTLE, we have created The Original Oil, with 10% organic broad-spectrum hemp extract and organic MCT oil from coconut. The CBD we provide is carefully cultivated, as it's completely organic and vegan, as well as being THC and GMO-free. You could pair CBD with yoga or meditation, as we know this is an ancient practice, and one that has earned its place within this day and age. The popularity of yoga/meditation combined with CBD has spread to many cultures, as individuals enjoy the balancing effect that adding CBD to their daily routines may produce.
  •         CBD skincare: although it is widely believed that the oil of the cannabis plant is the oldest method of consumption, CBD for skincare also has its roots firmly placed in ancient times. When referring to CBD for skincare, there is a vast array of options, such as moisturisers, balms, creams, and lotions. They are applied directly onto the skin, just the same as any other skincare product in your collection. The simplicity of the act itself makes for a wonderful addition to any self-care routine. 

Implementing a regular self-care routine is vital to many aspects of your overall well being. It can help to manage your stress levels, help to maintain healthy relationships with your loved ones and provide soothing effects for a restful night's sleep. A self-care routine does not just pertain to skincare, it also refers to eating a balanced diet, taking exercise, prioritising your goals and individual needs, and setting time aside to spend quality time with loved ones. A self-care plan will mean something different to everyone, as everyone has unique wants and needs; however, following a set plan can allow you to visualise your goals and balance your needs effectively.

Returning to CBD skincare, at MANTLE, we believe that the skin reflects how we nourish both the body and mind, it is after all the body's largest organ. The Calm Balm was created with this in mind, and is ideal for sensitive and dry skin. Antioxidant-rich CBD is the premium ingredient, yet it is also infused with botanicals, such as vitamin E and shea butter, for added soothing and anti-ageing effects. Take the time to gently massage the balm over your desired areas, and allow yourself to experience a moment of much-needed peace.

  •         Vaping CBD: Vaping CBD is the fastest method for being able to feel the possible effects of CBD. However, there are better options open to you for reaping the potential long-lasting balancing effects of the compound. 
  •         Edible CBD: CBD edibles are popular due to their convenience and versatility. You can purchase a range of edibles or make them yourself, such as dried fruit, cookies, cakes, protein bars, and so much more. There are some fantastic recipes online if you enjoy baking, or you could simply add a few drops of our premium Original Oil to your morning coffee! Whilst it takes between 30 and 60 minutes to feel the balancing effects of CBD edibles, they can be extremely long-lasting, between 6 and 8 hours.

 There is a long, intriguing history behind the cannabis plant, and there's a myriad of options open to you in this modern world. This makes adding CBD to your routine convenient and straightforward, which is perfect for this hectic and busy world we live in today, as CBD may place you on the right track for you to discover your best personal balance.