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The Amazing Power of Plants

We should  acknowledge that plants have an amazing role to play in the history and ongoing development of medicines and healthcare.

These are a handful of examples of plants that have activity been studied and their compounds abstracted or synthesised in medicines:

Papaver somniferum (Opium Poppy), Artemisia annua (Sweet wormwood), Silybum marianum (Milk thistle), Galanthus nivalis (Snowdrop), Callistemon citrinus (Bottlebrush), Coptis chinensis Franch (Goldthread), Schisandra chinensis (Chinese magnolia), Ephedra sinica Stapf (Chinese Ephedra) Camptotheca acuminata (Tree of life), Catharanthus roseus (Rose periwinkle), Salix alba (White willow), Taxus brevifolia (Western yew), Coleus barbatus (Indian nettle or Forskohli), Stephania glabra (Tape vine) and Capsicum annum (Red pepper).


Today of the 252 drugs that are considered “basic and essential” by the World Health Organisation 11% of them are exclusively of flowering plant origin.

Please note that the Humble Herb’s balms are NOT classified as a medicine nor are we claiming they are a medicine. They are not registered as a CBMP (Cannabis Based Medicinal Product - such as Sativex® or Nabilone®).

We recommend following the medical advice from your medical professionals. 

Cannabis Sativa L. is another plant  used as a remedy throughout history and across the globe by multiple civilizations. Here's an informative and interesting historic view of what we call the "master ingredient" at the Humble Herb ...

Humble-herb-CBD-balms-Fu Hsi

2900 BC - 1200 BC

2900 BC - The Chinese Emperor Fu Hsi (pictured) referenced  Ma, the Chinese word for Cannabis, noting that cannabis was a very popular medicine that possessed both 'yin and yang'

2700 BC - According to Chinese legend, the emperor Shen Nung , the Father of Chinese medicine and ‘inventor’ of tea, discovered cannabis’ healing properties.

2300 BC - In the Netherlands a late Neolithic grave attributed to the Beaker Gelderland culture was found containing cannabis pollen, archeologists speculated that the person in the grave had been very ill, and the cannabis would have served as a painkiller.

1500 BC – Some of the earliest written reference of cannabis and the healing properties is found in the Chinese Pharmacopeia, the Rh-Ya and also the Ebers Papyrus from Ancient Egypt.

1213 BC - Cannabis pollen is found on the mummy of Ramesses II, Prescriptions for cannabis in ancient Egypt include treatment for the eyes (glaucoma), inflammation, and cooling the uterus.

1200 BC – In the Atharva Veda, one of the four sacred Hindu texts, cannabis is named as one of the five most sacred plants on Earth.


1000 BC - 900 AD

1000 BC - Bhang, a cannabis drink generally mixed with milk, is used as an anaesthetic and anti-phlegmatic in India.

700 BC - The Venidad an ancient Persian religious text written by Zoroaster the founder of Zoroastrianism listing cannabis as the most important of 10,000 medicinal plants.

600 BC - The Ayurvedic treatise of Sushruta Samhita was the first major work to lay out the uses of cannabis in Indian medicine. Cannabis is cited as an anti-phlegmatic and a cure for leprosy.

1 AD - In a compendium of drug recipes Pen Ts'ao Ching recommends cannabis for more than 100 ailments, including gout, rheumatism, malaria, and absentmindedness.

70 - Pedanius Dioscorides a Greek physician who was a Roman army doctor studied many plants, gathering his knowledge into a book  titled De Materia Medica (On Medical Matters).   Dioscorides stated that the plant which was used in the making of rope also produced a juice that was used to treat earache.

79 - Pliny the Elder (pictured) an ancient Roman nobleman, scientist, and historian, author of Naturalis Historia  wrote 'the roots [of the cannabis plant] boiled in water ease cramped joints, gout too and similar violent pain’

800-900 - Cannabis was used medicinally across the Arabic world in Roman times, applied to a wide variety of ailments (from migraines to syphilis) and as an analgesic and anaesthetic. The great  Islamic physician Rhazès prescribed it widely.


1500 AD - 1880 AD

1538 - During the Middle Ages, hemp was central to any herbalist's medicine cabinet. William Turner, the naturalist considered the first English botanist, praises it in his book the ‘New Herball’

1621 - Clergyman and Oxford scholar Robert Burton suggests cannabis as a treatment for depression in his influential and popular book ‘The Anatomy of Melancholy’.

1652 - The herbalist Nicholas Culpeper (1616–1654) wrote in ‘The English Physitian’  that hemp extract 'allayeth Inflammations in the Head … eases the pains of the Gout … Knots in the Joynts, [and] the pains of the Sinews and Hips'.

1799 - Napoleon invades Egypt with forces that include a scientific expedition team. In addition to discovering the Rosetta Stone, the team brings cannabis back to France in 1799. The cannabis was investigated for its pain relieving and sedative effects in Europe.

1840 - Cannabis was reintroduced into British medicine in 1842 by Dr. William O'Shaughnessy (pictured), an army surgeon who had served in India. In Victorian times it was widely used for a variety of ailments, including muscle spasms, menstrual cramps, rheumatism, and the convulsions of tetanus, rabies and epilepsy; it was also used to promote uterine contractions in childbirth, and as a sedative to induce sleep. It is said to have been used by Queen Victoria against period pains:    her personal physician, Sir Robert Russell, wrote extensively on cannabis, recommending it for use in dysmenorrhoea (menstrual cramps).

1840s - Studies   by a French doctor, Jacques-Joseph Moreau (a French psychiatrist) found that cannabis suppressed headaches … and aided people to sleep.

1850 - Cannabis had made its way into the United States Pharmacopeia (an official public standards-setting authority for all prescription and over-the counter medicines), which listed it as treatment for numerous afflictions, including: neuralgia, tetanus, typhus, cholera, rabies, dysentery, alcoholism, opiate addiction, anthrax, leprosy, incontinence, gout, convulsive disorders, tonsillitis, insanity, excessive menstrual bleeding, and uterine bleeding, among others.


The last 125 years

1899- British chemists isolated cannabinol, the first cannabinoid identified, but their discovery came just as medical cannabis was falling out of favour. Advances in chemistry made it possible to isolate and synthesize the active ingredients of medicinal plants.

1930s - Pharmaceutical firms in the U.S attempted to produce consistently potent and reliable drugs from the plant. At least two American companies – Parke-Davis and Eli Lily – were selling standardized extracts of cannabis for use as an analgesic, an antispasmodic and sedative.

1940 CBD was isolated and its structure reported in 1964

1964 - Dr. Raphael Mechoulam (pictured) Professor of Medicinal Chemistry at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, is the first to identify delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), as the main psychoactive component of cannabis. He is also the first to synthesize THC.

1980s - Research led to nabilone and dronabinol, synthetic versions of THC, which were approved in the 1980s to suppress nausea during chemotherapy.

1988 - Researchers discovered a new receptor in the brain, named CB1, The first endocannabinoids, anandamide, was found in 1992. More followed, along with a second receptor (CB2) in 1993.

1998 - House of Lords concluded that there was strong evidence that cannabis had a medical value, and in 2000 the government supported a trial of cannabis in multiple sclerosis.

2005 - The first cannabis-based product Sativex (nabiximols) — a mouth spray of whole-cannabis extract, containing equal amounts of THC and cannabidiol — was given its first approval in Canada. The spray was developed by GW Pharmaceuticals following the report. Today, Sativex is approved in 27 countries

2019 – YouGov and Dynata surveys indicate that between 8 – 11% of the adult population in the UK had tried a CBD product in the last year.

2023 – Censuswide survey indicates that 29% of the +2000 participants had tried a CBD product

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