CBD is a hot topic in the health and wellness world. In the past few years, you may have seen these three letters cropping up in everything from your morning latte to your favourite face cream.\nYou’d be forgiven for thinking that CBD is a relatively new discovery. But, in reality, humans have been turning to cannabis-derived products for the past 3,000 years to address ailments.\nHemp is thought to be one of the earliest cultivated plants and was used for everything from ropes and fabrics to ship sails. The word ‘canvas’ is actually derived from the old French word ‘canevas’, which comes from the Latin word cannabis.\nHemp has been used for medicinal and recreational purposes throughout history. However, it is only in recent history that cannabis has been outlawed and vilified. As we learn more about cannabinoids and how they interact with the body, governments are easing restrictions on how we access CBD and other hemp-derived products.\n \nIsolating the first cannabinoids\nAlthough we may have been growing hemp throughout human history, we only recently discovered the compounds contained within that make this plant so unique.\nIn 1940, Roger Adams isolated the first cannabinoids CBD and CBN, from the hemp plant. He also theorised about the existence of a psychoactive compound, THC. This was later isolated by Raphael Mechoulam in 1964.\nWithout this vital discovery, we would not be able to differentiate the psychoactive compounds in cannabis from the purely beneficial compounds such as CBD. So while this critical discovery may have helped us understand how cannabis affects individuals, it has also paved the way for other cannabinoids to be used as health supplements.\n \nDiscovery of the endocannabinoid system\nIn the 1980s, researchers found evidence of the existence of cannabinoid receptors. By 1988, researchers had developed the processes needed to identify receptor sites.\nToday, we know there are two types of receptors: CB1 and CB2. CB1 receptors are concentrated in the brain, spinal cord and some peripheral organs and tissues, including the spleen, white blood cells and endocrine gland. They are also found in the reproductive, gastrointestinal and urinary tracts.\nCB2 receptors are located throughout the immune system, including white blood cells, in the tonsils and the spleen.\nIn 1992, a Czech analytical chemist called Lumír Hanuš joined forced with an American pharmacologist called William Devane. The pair discovered the first endocannabinoid in the human brain while working in a lab in Israel.\nAt this stage, we understood that we have an endocannabinoid system, that we produce our own endocannabinoids and that cannabinoids can also be extracted from the commercial hemp plant. However, we didn’t yet understand what the endocannabinoid system could do or how a CBD supplement might influence it.\nIn October 2003, the United States government patented CBD as a neuroprotectant under U.S. Patent #6,630,507. This was ultimately excellent news for CBD, as it acknowledged the potential benefits of CBD.\nHowever, many felt it was hypocritical, as the United States still didn’t remove cannabis (or CBD) from its list of Scheduled narcotics. This sent mixed messages to the scientific community and made it difficult for research to progress.\nIn 2013, CNN reported the story of a young girl with Dravet’s Syndrome. From 3 months to five years old, Charlotte Figi would suffer over 300 grand mal seizures per week.\nThe seizures would not respond to medication until she started taking a high-CBD strain of medical cannabis. Finally, the seizures were all but eliminated. This sparked a conversation about how CBD might one day become a recognised treatment.\n \n \n\n \n \nRise of CBD oil as a supplement\nIn December 2018, the United States passed the Farm Bill, which would pave the way for industrial hemp to be grown on US soil. For the first time in over 80 years, it was legal to grow hemp.\nLicenced farmers were able to grow industrial hemp, provided the THC content remained below 0.3% by dry weight. This paved the way for more regulation and guidelines for the CBD industry.\nIn the UK, the MHRA determined that any hemp-based CBD products would need a license to be advertised as having medicinal qualities. This ruling has helped to reign in the CBD market and prevent companies that are just looking to make a quick profit from making outlandish claims.\nThe Farm Bill also caused an interesting shift in global CBD supplies. After the bill passed, many farmers rushed to start growing CBD, leading to a surge in CBD stocks. Unfortunately, the relatively young market wasn’t yet ready for this much supply, and the processing sector wasn’t yet mature enough to keep up with demand.\nIn 2020, the number of hemp processing plants in the US grew by more than 100%. But, while demand might be slowly increasing, the sector remains volatile and unpredictable.\nWith a surplus of CBD on their hands, some manufacturers got creative and started exploring ways to extract or synthesise other cannabinoids from the hemp plants. This led to an increase in interest in lesser-known cannabinoids such as CBG.\n \n\n \nThe future of CBD oil in the UK\nCBD came to the UK with a niche following, but it is starting to gather broader appeal. In the future, we are likely to see more niche uses for CBD cropping up. This could mean products specifically marketed for fitness, sexual health, skincare and overall wellbeing.\nWe also expect to see the growth of the CBD vitamin market. CBD might soon be listed in popular brands of multivitamins alongside new startups. It might be as widely accepted in your daily vitamins like vitamin C or Zinc.\nThe global cannabinoid market was worth $2.8 billion in 2020 and is expected to experience an annual growth rate of 21.2% from 2021 to 2028. We may have only touched the tip of the iceberg for CBD interest.\nWhat is certain is that the growth of CBD in the UK is exciting to watch. As the early adopters share their appreciation for this botanical extract, we expect consumers to become more clued up and switched on to the potential benefits for their health and wellbeing.