Did you know that the first known use of the Cannabis Sativa L plant was recorded back in China in 2727 B.C,? Its hemp form was used for years for animal feed, hemp rope and even as an ingredient in paint, while its cannabis form was used to help treat a variety of medical conditions, from cancer to even aid against day to day pain.
Since those days a lot has changed and unfortunately Cannabis is now classed as a schedule 1 drug. Furthermore, for the past 50 years, cannabis has received an extremely bad reputation, putting it in the same category as heroin and Ecstasy.
Thanks to the internet, ongoing research and public exposure, cannabis has become one of the most talked about plants in the world. While many still view the marijuana plant as a drug that negatively impacts its users by getting them “stoned,” many are now seeing cannabis in its entirety as something that offers a vast amount of therapeutic benefits.
While modern research into cannabis has come on leaps and bounds over the past couple of decades, there is one individual that deserves the credit for getting the ball rolling. Known as “the father of modern cannabis”, Dr. Raphael Mechoulam is the worlds leading pioneer in cannabis research!
In this article, we are going to look at just how vital Mechoulam’s research has been for the progression of modern medicine, and the overall impact his work has had on the cannabis industry.
About the man: Dr. Raphael Mechoulam
Originally from Bulgaria, the multi-award winning scientist had a turbulent upbringing. As part of an affluent Jewish family, Mechoulam and his family faced anti-Semitism and were subject to the Nazi concentration camps of the period. However, both Mechoulam and his family survived this period and eventually left to live in Israel.
Having obtained his Ph.D. in Chemistry in 1962, Mechoulam was on the hunt for a research project in the hopes that he would gain tenure at the Weizmann University. It was during this period of his life that Dr. Raphael Mechoulam would accidentally stumble upon the most innovative research that the Cannabis industry would ever know.
Mechoulam was the first person ever to isolate THC and CBD, both of which are now incredibly well-researched cannabinoids found in the cannabis plant. CBD is the most explored cannabinoid of the lot and has been found to relieve a wide range of severe symptoms.
The discovery of the cannabinoids found within cannabis is arguably testimony enough to grant Mechoulam with such a prestigious title as the “Father of Marijuana”. However, his groundbreaking research didn’t stop there; but instead paved the way for future research into the benefits of the plant as a whole.
Dr. Mechoulam’s Findings
After his initial discovery of the cannabinoids THC and CBD, Mechoulam found himself much more invested than he initially expected. At the start of his research, Mechoulam confessed that he wanted to do his project on Cannabis because it would be nice and quick, even referring to it as a “minor project.” Little did he know that he would unearth research that would go on to change modern science forever.
In 1992, Mechoulam went on to discover that not only are cannabinoids found within Cannabis, but that we humans also produce our own natural cannabinoids – that play a huge part in the regulation of many bodily functions. It was also around this time that Mechoulam discovered the Endocannabinoid system (ECS), which is found within the body and is responsible for releasing natural cannabinoids, as well as regulating our internal organs.
Not long after this discovery, the Dr found the fatty acid neurotransmitter known as Anandamide, which translates as “bliss” in Sanskrit. Anandamide has been linked to a variety of health benefits including heightened happiness (hence the name Bliss), appetite and fertility. In 1995, Mechoulam also discovered a second neurotransmitter, named 2-AG which although found in more abundance than the former, was shown to be less potent.
So not only did Mechoulam discover cannabinoids such as THC and CBD but also he also then went on to find out how these compounds interact with the human body. The type of research, which had never been done before, and would challenge the stigma attached to the cannabis plant.
All of these discoveries have allowed research to be done into the direct effects of cannabinoids on human physiology. From Mechoulam discovering that cannabinoids bind to receptors found within the body, research has been able to progress in order to show how relationships between cannabinoids from cannabis have different effects on different parts of the body. For example, we know THC mostly impacts receptors found within the brain, and this is why we get “high” from consumption. The work done by Mechoulam has ultimately led to the discovery that CBD and other cannabinoids can help in the treatment of conditions such as the following:
Now more widely recognized as an alternative treatment to so many conditions, states across America have been changing their stance and amending laws to allow the medicinal use of CBD.
So how has Dr. Raphael Mechoulam’s years of research and dedication into cannabis impacted on the industry? Well, it is impossible to argue with the scientist’s title of “Father of Marijuana.” He has almost single-handedly discovered the real medicinal benefits behind the plant and gone on to prove its worth concerning our human system.
Not only has Mechoulam showed the real worth of the marijuana plant in the medical field, but he has also done more than anyone before in challenging the stereotypical attitude towards the drug. Ultimately, the past decade of legal changes, increased availability, and information around the plant and its potential are solely down to the base research Dr. Mechoulam did.
For a man who has never once consumed cannabis himself, we have a whole lot to thank him for!