CBD: A Healthy and Powerful Plant Compound Used as Botanical Medicine for Generations

Wouldn’t it be nice to wake up feeling great every day? A body free of pain, and a mind without worry and stress? Most of you might be shouting….YES!

Well, having a demanding and fast-paced life, which many of you probably have, puts your health on the back burner. But, your health deserves much more love and attention. Without having time to always eat right, supplying your body with herbal extracts could be an effective solution.

This is where CBD comes in. It’s no secret that CBD gets a lot of attention these days. But, what you might not know is the long-standing history of hemp, the plant full of CBD. In total, CBD makes up 40 percent of hemp plant extracts.

Botanical and herbal medicines were the standard for healing illnesses for thousands of years. With today’s societal shift towards natural alternatives, CBD could be the missing piece in your wellness regime.

Botanicals as Medicine

Throughout history, plants served as a primary source of medicine. Archaeologists discovered remains of medicinal plants from 60,000 years ago. They suspect botanicals have been used as medicine for as long as human existence.

Some of these plants included cannabis, opium poppies, and ephedra. Humans experimented with plants to find ways to remedy illnesses and diseases. They relied on their innate wisdom and years of ‘clinical trials’ on themselves, to conclude which plants worked for which diseases.

Our modern pharmaceutical industry took shape because of botanical research and medicine. In fact, Arthur Eichengrün and Felix Hoffmann created the first synthetic drug in 1897 and called it aspirin. They were able to manufacture aspirin from an active ingredient found in herbal remedies.

Fun fact:

Nearly 25 percent of prescription drugs derived from the chemical components of plants. Not only that, 11 percent of drugs listed as essential by the World Health Organization, derive exclusively from the origin of plants.

Although pharmaceuticals dominate the medical landscape today, botanical medicines have gained popularity in the last few decades and are commonly sold as supplements or botanical therapeutics.

Here are some figures to put behind these claims. In the United States alone, the use of botanical medicines increased by 380 percent between 1990 and 1997. And by 2010, global sales of botanical supplements surpassed $25 billion in revenues.

Even more, the World Health Organization reports that 75 to 85 percent of people around the world rely on botanical medicines for their primary healthcare.

It’s clear that traditional uses and applications of herbal medicines are making a comeback. This is particularly true in the United States. And with the favorable safety profile, convenience of purchasing, and relatively low cost, it’s easy to see why.    

Differences Between Botanicals and Pharmaceuticals

In the United States, botanicals get categorized as dietary supplements. Thus, they are not intended to treat, diagnose, or cure disease or illness. Yet, they help compensate for a diet lacking in whole-food nutrition. Also, they can improve low vitamin and mineral levels in the body, and help the body reach homeostasis (internal balance).

Here are some key differences between botanicals and pharmaceuticals. 


herbs and oils



  • Offer a wide margin of safety
  • Non-habit forming           
  • The active ingredients in botanicals get diluted to increase their therapeutic effects
  • Using botanical medicine results in a synergistic action, where the entire body may benefit


  • The margin of safety is narrow, with the potential to experience adverse side effects
  • Taking certain pharmaceutical drugs can be habit-forming and addictive
  • The active ingredients in pharmaceuticals are highly purified, leading to stronger potency
  • A pharmaceutical drug often targets a specific activity in the body

Western Medicine has experienced tremendous advances over the years. Many of which save lives in critical emergency situations. Yet, when it comes to prescription drugs, they often treat the symptoms, rather than the root cause.

So, people don’t heal, their health suffers and a new ailment can arise. Then, another drug gets prescribed. And on it goes, resulting in the ‘over prescription’ of pharmaceutical drugs. Even worse, the harmful side effects can leave a person feeling worse, instead of better.

Compared to pharmaceuticals, these are a few of the major differences offered by herbal and botanical medicines. 

  • Botanicals, such as CBD extracted from hemp tend to be more affordable than conventional medicines
  • Botanicals don’t require a written prescription by a doctor, making them easier to buy
  • Herbal and botanical medicines supply a host of beneficial properties

Now that we’ve provided background on botanicals, let’s explore the history and medicinal uses of hemp - one of Mother Nature’s most prized botanicals.

History of Hemp

Hemp has existed for at least 10,000 years, around the same time human agriculture began. During these days, hemp was heavily relied upon for food and fiber, to make clothes, paper, and shoes.

Throughout the years, hemp spread across civilizations, including Asia, Europe, Africa, and South America. Then in the early 1600s, hemp arrived in North America. American farmers discovered hemp's many uses, particularly in lamp fuels, canvas, and rope. By the 1700s, it was a legal requirement for farmers to grow hemp as a staple crop. It was that important to society.

Here’s a look at some significant markers in history when it comes to hemp over the past 200 years.

  • 1776: The Declaration of Independence gets drafted on hemp paper
  • 1840: Abraham Lincoln fuels his household lamps with hemp seed oil
  • 1916: Published findings by the USDA illustrate how hemp can produce four times more paper than trees, per acre
  • 1937: The Marijuana Tax Act passes, making it illegal to grow, consume or smoke any plant associated with the cannabis family, which includes hemp
  • 1938: The Magazine, Popular Mechanics publishes an article about hemp’s versatility. Stating it could help in the creation of more than 25,000 different products


Here’s an interesting fact about the 1937 Marijuana Tax Act. It passed despite opposition by the American Medical Association. And unfortunately, the article by Popular Mechanics came a bit late, one year behind the passing of this Act.

The article referred to hemp as the “new billion dollar crop.” Although a billion dollars was quite hard to imagine in those days, it was clear how valuable and important hemp was.

Some of the 25,000 uses of hemp sited in the article included; linen, cigarette papers, bond paper, dynamite, cellophane, canvas, tablecloths, and towels. Clearly, hemp was a viable crop in North America and was a likely solution for thousands of consumer products.

  • 1942: Henry Ford builds the body of a car using hemp fiber. Compared to steel, hemp is ten times stronger.
  • 1942: More than 150,000 acres were designated for hemp production by the USDA’s “Hemp for Victory” program
  • 1970: Hemp gets classified as an illegal Schedule I drug under the Controlled Substances Act. This Act imposed strict regulations on cultivating industrial hemp and marijuana
  • 1998: The United States starts importing food-grade hemp, in the form of seeds and oils
  • 2004: In the Hemp Industries Association vs. DEA case, the Ninth Circuit Court decides in favor of hemp. Thereby protecting U.S. sales of hemp foods and body care products.
  • 2007: After decades of prohibition, two North Dakota farmers receive hemp licenses
  • 2014: President Obama signs the 2014 Farm Bill, allowing pilot research to begin on hemp farming
  • 2018: The Farm Bill Act of 2018 legalized the production of hemp and removed it from the list of controlled substances

The Medicinal Uses of Hemp Seen Throughout History

The written history of hemp’s medicinal uses started around 2737 BCE. During this period, the Emperor of China made teas and topical oils from hemp to provide pain relief.

The Romans also have a written record that documents their long history of hemp use. They noted that hemp helped extract insects from ears and assisted in pain relief. Around this time, a different pharmacopeia listed several medicinal uses of hemp. The benefits included relief from ear pain, stomach-related problems, and burns.

Regions throughout the Middle East grew hemp in abundance and understood it very well. They noted hemp contained anti-inflammatory, anti-epileptic, pain-relieving, and diuretic properties.

India is another country that used hemp medicinally. The Atharvaveda, an Indian text, called hemp ‘sacred grass.’ Indians used hemp as pastes, in drinks, and smoked it medicinally and recreationally.

Egyptians wrote about using hemp as one ingredient in an eyewash. Other writings showed its use to relieve pain and reduce inflammation.

Hemp then spread to Europe during the sixteenth century. It helped improve and reduce the symptoms associated with tumors and coughs. Like the laws in the United States during the 1700s, England also required farmers to grow hemp, or face paying a fine.

Even more, sixteenth-century physicians, Li Shih-Chen and Garcia de Orta found new uses for the hemp plant. They discovered hemp improved appetite and had antibiotic properties. Findings in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries further supported hemp’s medicinal powers.

Before the start of the U.S. Civil War, both the U.S. pharmacopeia and the U.S. Dispensatory included hemp extract on their lists. As such, extracts from hemp were recommended by physicians to help with convulsions, depression, and gout. By the end of the nineteenth century, research proved hemp’s medicinal components once again. This research showed marked improvements in migraines, asthma, and dysmenorrhea (menstrual cramps).

By the twentieth century, the use of hemp dramatically declined with the introduction of opiates and the invention of the syringe.


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Final Points

If history teaches us one thing, it’s that Mother Nature supplied humans with natural ways to heal. Many of these natural health alternatives originate from botanical and herbal medicines.

Thousands of years of documented history illustrate that hemp has remarkable and significant benefits. And today, science is showing us the same thing.





Ernst, E. (2007). Herbal medicines: Balancing benefits and risks. Novartis Foundation Symposium, 282, 154-67; discussion 167-72, 212-8.

Williamson, E.M. (2001). Synergy and other interactions in phytomedicines. Phytomedicine, 8, 401-409.






Raskin I, Ripoll C. Can an apple a day keep the doctor away? Curr Pharm Des. 2004;10:3419–29.





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