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Looking at the incredible success of vaping worldwide and the current rising tide of research and support for CBD, it’s almost unimaginable to look at their earliest forms when vaping was a near-unknown and CBD had yet to be so much as discovered. But since we are formed by history, by going back and understanding the origins of vaping and CBD, we can glean a much greater appreciation of them both.
Therefore, in this article, we’re going to dive back through the history of vaping and CBD. To understand where they started, their long and twisting journey through time, and why them coming together was an innovation that took centuries in the making.
Vaping: A Primer
Vaping has come far from its humble early days, with e-cigarette rising exponentially around the globe to around 41 million users worldwide in 2018. Marketed as a safer alternative to traditional, harmful tobacco cigarettes, manufacturers continuously innovate new flavours and technology to enhance the user experience, so it’s no wonder that so many people nowadays are turning to vaping.
To vape, you make use of a vaporizer device - which can come in a variety of forms, including vape pens, e-cigarettes, vape mods, or pod mods. Vape devices have evolved significantly over time, from first-generation e-cigarettes to fourth-generation pod mods. Each of these generations of devices consists of four main components: a cartridge or tank to hold the liquid for vaping, an atomiser to heat this liquid into signature vapour, a power source to fuel this atomiser, and finally an airway or a mouthpiece that provides a way for vapour to flow out into the user’s mouth to be inhaled.
The vapour created by vape devices is composed of an aerosol made from vape oil. Also referred to as vape liquid, e-liquid or vape juice, it’s a mixture that is used widely for most vapour products. The specific composition of vape oil can vary widely - with most commercial brands using propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin alongside nicotine and additional flavouring. However, differences in levels of propylene glycol and vegetable glycerin can yield greater vapour production, or a more intense experience when inhaled. Other formulations can exclude most of these ingredients entirely - nicotine is completely excluded in cannabis vapes, and cannabis-derivative vapes, where the cannabis plant compounds provide the mood-enhancing sensation instead.
Vaporizers Through Generations
The earliest patent for an electronic vaporiser dates back to early in the 20th century, to one Joseph Robinson, who first applied for a patent for an electronic vaporiser for use with medicinal compounds in 1927. Since then, large tobacco companies have been trying to develop devices to generate aerosolized nicotine, and a patent for a “smokeless non-tobacco cigarette” that produced flavoured steam without nicotine was applied for in 1963. However, due to the popularity of smoking at the time, these devices were never commercialised, and for the longest time they seemed like nothing but a pipe dream.
Vape devices and the e-cigarette in its 21st-century form originate from a Chinese research pharmacist named Hon Lik. Hon quit smoking and was inspired to create an alternative, safer method of nicotine consumption after his father, a heavy smoker, died of lung cancer. In 2003, he registered a patent for the modern e-cigarette design - a device that used resistance heating to vaporise the pressurised liquid into a smoke-like vapour. This was the first commercially successful electronic cigarette, and the product expanded from the Chinese domestic market over to Europe and the US by 2006 and 2007, quickly spreading and growing in popularity with consumers.
The first-generation e-cigarette continued to evolve in design and performance largely thanks to entrepreneurs and users who tinkered and “modded” their own devices to try and enhance their experience by improving the functionality or aesthetics of the product. This led to the development of many ubiquitous elements of vape device designs, such as the cartomiser - a mechanism that integrates the heating coil into the vape liquid container - the clearomizer - a design that combines the wicking material, and the liquid container and the atomiser coil into one single clear component, to name a few. These processes are also still relevant to the current day as modding and customisation still remain an integral part of vape consumer culture and the vaping community today.
While international tobacco companies initially disregarded e-cigarettes as a passing fad in the beginning, over time more and more of them began to recognise that the development of these devices could potentially end up making traditional tobacco products a thing of the past. And thankfully today, the vape industry is booming worldwide, thanks to the passionate support of consumers and their inarguable mass appeal.
CBD: A Primer
Around 120 cannabinoids are known to exist - compounds which are naturally produced by cannabis plants (Cannabis sativa), and which we now know thanks to research to be responsible for these plants’ unique therapeutic and intoxicating effects. CBD, also known by its full name of cannabidiol, is one of these useful compounds.
CBD is notable amongst its peers for a number of reasons. It’s one of the most abundant cannabinoids in cannabis, accounting for up to 60% of a plant’s extract, and it has a variety of effects on the human body when ingested with these effects including modulating pain and inflammation, altering serotonin signals, and interacting with the endocannabinoid system. Consumers have made use of CBD to deal with a wide range of conditions from anxiety, chronic pain, epilepsy, skin conditions, cancer, and more.
The strongest scientific evidence for its effectiveness comes from its ability to treat some of the most debilitating childhood epilepsy syndromes, such as Dravet syndrome and Lennox-Gastaut syndrome (LGS), to which CBD provides symptom relief where antiseizure medications fall short. Anecdotal reports also indicate that CBD may improve mood, relieve stress, provide energy boosts and aid in sleep, among other things.
It’s also non-toxic, and non-neurotropic in nature, unlike its fellow cannabinoid tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) - which means that when consumed, it doesn’t cause the “high” that people experience when typically consuming cannabis. Research also indicates that CBD has non-addictive properties, and people who take it are less likely to build up a tolerance to it over time than they are to other substances.
Cannabis and CBD Throughout History
Cannabis plants have been cultivated, harvested and utilised by humans throughout recorded history. Much of our historical knowledge about the uses and benefits of cannabis plants comes from detailed ancient accounts as many cultures knew well of their unique therapeutic effects, and made use of them for medicinal, recreational and practical purposes.
The first mention of hemp plants on written record dates back to 1250 BC in Ancient China, where it was referred to as a plant called ma (麻),and it was ubiquitous in everyday life. Archaeological findings can trace its usage even earlier, where it was used in Taiwan for fibre around 10,000 years ago. It was used as raw material for textile manufacture, to make clothes for ordinary people. It was also quite versatile, used to produce paper by crushing hemp fibres together with mulberry bark, used in cooking with rice and wheat, and further used to treat skin diseases, wounds and hair loss. Its medicinal uses in Ancient China were well observed, with it first being featured in the pharmacological book The Herbal, written in around 2500 BC. In this book, hemp was described as having both feminine and masculine energies and could thus treat both sides of a human.
Another text, the Ebers Papyrus from Ancient Egypt, describes medical cannabis usage from 1550 BC. Multiple other ancient Egyptian papyri have similar accounts of cannabis, such as the Ramesseum II Papyrus (1700 BC) and the Berlin Papyrus (1300 BC), among others. The Ancient Egyptians recorded their usage of hemp in suppositories in order to relieve pain from haemorrhoids, as well as using it to treat sore eyes. Cannabis was also a major component in life in Ancient India, used primarily in religious and medicinal practices. Ancient Indians knew and recognised cannabis’s psychoactive and therapeutic properties, and it was seen as an overwhelmingly useful, well-regarded and holy plant. They even used it to treat a whole host of illnesses and ailments, including insomnia, headaches, gastrointestinal disorders, and pain. The Ancient Greeks and physicians in the medieval Islamic world also made use of much of Cannabis sativa’s medicinal properties, using it extensively as medication.
Much closer to the modern-day, the indomitable Queen Victoria was also known to partake of the benefits of cannabis and CBD. Reportedly, she used to take a tincture of cannabis with a small concentration of CBD to relieve her menstrual spasm, as prescribed by her family doctor. As during the Victorian era, cannabis and cannabis-derived products like CBD drops were legal at the time.
One final notable figure in the conversation of CBD history is William Brooke O’Shaughnessy. An assistant surgeon in the East India Company in the 1800s, O’Shaughnessy was one of the first people to publish scientific articles on the topic of cannabis. He first began studying cannabis in Calcutta, India, where he attentively researched folk cannabis usage and discovered a variety of new applications, and began recommending cannabis for use in various therapeutic purposes. The doctor noted that while cannabis could not treat tetanus, a cannabis mixture reduced symptoms of spasticity when administered to patients - a therapeutic result that we can now likely attribute to cannabidiol and its muscle-relaxant properties. He carried out his research in 1839 in India, returning to England and introducing Cannabis indica, of Indian hemp to Western medicine in England in 1841 and writing many books and articles on the usage of cannabis.
Unfortunately, beginning in 1911, numerous states started to ban the use of Indian hemp, and the prohibition put an end to William Brooke O’Shaughnessy’s research and career.
Efforts to try and isolate the active ingredients of cannabis date back to the 19th century, but it was only in the 20th century that they began to be identified. The first discovery of an individual cannabinoid was made by British chemist Robert S. Cahn, who was the first to report the partial structure of cannabinol in 1937, later identifying the full form in 1940.
Cannabidiol was first successfully isolated just two years later by American organic chemist Roger Adams, who also was responsible for the discovery of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC). Using Minnesota wild hemp and Egyptian Cannabis indica as sources, they isolated and studied these compounds. However, during these early stages, scientists had limited knowledge of cannabinoid structure and only a partial understanding of the phytochemical composition of the plant itself. This made trying to distinguish which effects were caused by which compounds difficult, and at the time Adams and his peers did not realise the scale of the contribution he would have on CBD research to come.
The first breakthrough towards understanding the effects of individual cannabinoids came in 1963, at the hands of Dr. Raphael Mechoulam at the University of Jerusalem, who successfully identified the stereochemistry of CBD. The discovery of the stereochemistry of THC came just a year later, laying bare a direct relationship between this cannabinoid and the euphoric effects associated with marijuana use, and thus identified CBD as not being mind-altering.
Another landmark moment in the history of CBD is the year of cannabidiol legalisation. In 1978, the state of New Mexico passed a law to officially recognise cannabis as a medicine that was accessible to citizens. This was highly protested against at the time, assuming that it would lead to easy access to marijuana as a drug, but it marked an important first step towards a wider acceptance of cannabis amongst the general population.
Decades later, Mechoulam and his team conducted a study on the potential application of CBD for treating epilepsy, administering daily doses of 300 mg of CBD to a small group of subjects. Four months of treatment led to a marked decrease in the frequency of the seizures of all subjects, with half having the seizures stop entirely.
Though stigmas towards cannabis at the time kept this breakthrough from having an immediate impact, it would eventually lead to further research. Less than a decade later, renewed interest in the therapeutic applications of cannabinoids led not only to the discovery of additional cannabinoids but a greater understanding of cannabinoid structure and the discovery of the body’s endocannabinoid system - a network of receptors that interact with cannabinoids.
Charlotte Figi and the rise of CBD
Much of CBD’s popularity and reputation in the modern day is thanks to the remarkable case of Charlotte Figi. A young girl born in Colorado in 2006, Charlotte was diagnosed with an incredibly rare and devastating form of chronic epilepsy known as Dravet Syndrome that affects approximately 1 in every 16,000 to 21,000 infants. Her condition was debilitating - by age four, Charlotte’s ability to walk, talk, and eat were all severely impaired, and she was reported to suffer as many as 300 seizures in a single week.
After trying every other option in modern medicine available to them and finding no success, Charlotte’s parents turned to alternative means, ending up with CBD. By some miracle, it worked - upon consuming a small dose of potent CBD oil, Charlotte’s grand mal seizures ceased nearly immediately. Thanks to CBD, Charlotte only experienced 2 to 3 seizures per month - a monumental improvement over her previous frequency. With much of her normal functions restored, Charlotte lived a normal life. She recently tragically passed away after she was hospitalised with pneumonia in April 2020, but she will forever be remembered as a beacon of hope, and as a pioneer and icon for the CBD movement.
Her case was a landmark in the timeline of CBD, and alongside countless others who have similarly used CBD to aid their conditions, Charlotte’s story has fueled a massive rise in support, awareness and research into CBD that continues to the present day. Today, CBD is readily obtainable in a myriad of forms in most parts of the United States and Europe, though its exact legal status is in flux and it is most commonly available as an unregulated supplement. The legality of CBD is expected to change in future, as public opinion and lawmakers work towards easing regulatory requirements to allow researchers to conduct CBD trials and more thoroughly research this compound.
As the market continues to grow and expand, some CBD manufacturers have come under scrutiny for wild, indefensible claims as to CBD’s abilities. CBD is far from being a panacea, or a miracle cure for cancer, but it may prove yet to be a good option for managing anxiety, chronic pain, as well as many other common conditions. Only continued research, high-quality evidence, and time will tell.
Modern Innovation: Vaping CBD
There is an incredible abundance of different retailers and products on the CBD market today, and while the success is heartening it should also be noted that not all CBD products are created equal. Though different innovations have given rise to a variety of different ways to take CBD, from infused foods and capsules to tinctures and salves, one of the most standout and increasingly popular cannabidiol delivery methods is CBD vaping.
The marriage of CBD and vapes comes as no surprise, considering vaping’s reputation as an alternative to smoking and cannabis being often consumed by way of smoking. In CBD vapes, CBD is presented as the primary ingredient of vape oil, usually as isolated CBD or CBD distillate. This lends its high potency, and depending on the manufacturer; other ingredients will be mixed in to achieve the correct viscosity level needed for vaporization. An increasingly popular group of ingredients are terpenes - which are also naturally-produced cannabis plant compounds. They are responsible for the rich and varied aroma of many plants, and they are becoming a trusted choice for many manufacturers who are looking to replace synthetic chemicals.
Vaping is one of the fastest and most effective ways to consume CBD, and this is in large part is thanks to its design and the mechanism of delivery that is integral to the product. When CBD is vaporized and inhaled as an aerosol, CBD particles flow through your airways and come in contact with the lining of the lungs. Through this thin membrane, CBD is absorbed rapidly and effectively, and can thus enter the bloodstream and spread through the body within minutes of the first breath. Acting all over the body on different cells and organs, effects can thus take place at a startling speed , and each successive breath pulls in more CBD, providing a steady dose to suffuse the user with.
CBD vapes also have the highest bioavailability amongst CBD delivery methods - which refers to the amount of CBD that actually enters systemic circulation compared to the amount of CBD in the product. Vaping CBD yields a bioavailability of around 34 to 46%, a higher proportion that makes it into the system than eating capsules or applying balms. This efficacy, as well as the ease of use of vapes and the sheer potency packed into CBD vape cartridges, all contribute to the popularity of CBD vapes. It allows users to maximise the experience and the health benefits of their CBD, giving them a smooth, quick-acting dose, which is particularly appealing to those who need to see results fast or have to fit their CBD intake into a busy day.
CBD vapes may hold even further potential for people who are looking to wean themselves off of smoking or e-cigarette use, taking the edge off of addiction in the long-term. Research indicates that CBD is itself a non-addictive substance and that it can help to treat addictions in chronic smokers and alleviate the pains associated with quitting smoking. Combining a wide range of wellness benefits and soothing effects with a sleek and easy-to-use method of delivery, CBD vaping is a phenomenon years in the making and an excellent way to get a dose of this compound whenever and wherever you need it.
Finding a CBD vape for you
The rise of CBD vaping is an ever-promising sight, but sifting through the sea of different CBD vape brands today can be quite the ordeal for anyone. To take that pressure off you, we have an easy solution - why not try CBD vaping with Amphora?
At Amphora, we have a carefully-curated and crafted selection of CBD vape oil cartridges, fully compatible with most vape devices and made with the consumer in mind. Our vape oils are made from full-organic hemp plants, are all verified by third-party lab-testing, and are certified free from THC, nicotine. We don’t feature artificial additives of any sort, and we only use terpenes to imbue your vape with all-natural flavours and wellness benefits. Each of our four different cartridges are formulated to fulfil a different set of needs that a person might have in everyday life, whether it be getting some invigoration and focus at the start of the day or attaining balance and peace of mind.
Written by | Infused Amphora Team
The Infused Amphora Team is dedicated to creating resources to educate and engage consumers on the growing evidence of CBD benefits and the extensive health and wellness properties of CBD oil.
Contributors | Angus Taylor + Dr Gaylord Wardell
IPI is a pharmaceutical ingredient company that cultivates cannabis strains curated to extract specific cannabinoids, terpenes, and flavonoids for the formulation of effects-based health and wellness products. Angus is an experienced public speaker, engaging stakeholders, governments and media. Angus was the co-founder of NewLeaf Cannabis, Canada’s most successful retail brand to date, and has been established as a well-known and recognized expert in the field.
Dr Wardell is a practising physician with over 40 years of clinical and educational experience in pain management, medical practices and education. Dr Wardell is past President of the Pain Society of Alberta, and current President of the Alberta Medical Association, section of Pain. He is a popular public speaker, an active blogger on medical and pain-related issues, and proponent for scientific validation for patients experiencing pain.
Infused Amphora “Learn” is intended for informational purposes only and is NOT a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.