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How CBD helped one girl (Charlotte’s Web)

In recent years, CBD legislation has been shaped by the people who have depended on it the most. This has never been truer than in the case of Charlotte Figi, a 12-year old girl who has helped rewrite American laws on medicinal marijuana and allowed other vulnerable children to transform their lives with the use of Charlotte’s web CBD oil.

This is her story…

Who is Charlotte Figi?

Born on the 18th of October 2006, Charlotte Figi began life as a healthy twin, but in her first year of life she began to experience seizures and her cognitive health started to decline. By the tender age of two, doctors discovered that she suffered from Dravet syndrome, or SMEI, which causes exhaustive epileptic seizures.

Shattered by the news of this, her family tried almost everything to improve her quality of life, from diets, acupuncture and a variety of powerful drugs including valium, Ativan, and phenobarbital. Although these drugs were an attempt to lessen the seizures, it wasn’t unusual for her to experience severe side-effects, and on one occasion she even stopped breathing. Luckily, after being rushed to hospital she survived the event. The medication was a double aged sword which seemed to sharpen as Charlotte grew older.

After seeing a Dravet specialist in Chicago, Charlotte began a food diet of high fats and low carbohydrates. This blend causes the body to make extra ketones, a natural chemical that is thought to lesson seizures and is often used as a method for patients who don’t respond well to other treatments. Unfortunately, this caused a lot of side effects, including bone loss and a weakened immune system. Charlotte’s parents also noted behavioral problems. However, even the diet couldn’t keep the seizures at bay and after two years they began to occur again. This was not the solution they wanted.

I remember when her heart stopped, and I had her pulse. I lost her pulse and there was just nothing.”  – Paige Figi

By the age of three, Charlotte was severely disabled and having 300 grand mal seizures a week – almost two seizures every hour. Her cognitive and physical development suffered because of this; unable to talk and move freely Charlotte was in a catatonic state.

Her family felt completely hopeless, the medication wasn’t working, and Charlotte’s suffering continued. Faced with the possibility of having to put Charlotte into an induced coma to allow her body and mind to rest, her parents were challenged with a decision that changed her life.

Charlotte’s Web strain

Marijuana was the decision they came to. Charlotte’s father, who had been deployed to Afghanistan with the military, began reading up on cases similar to his daughter’s. He discovered that the compound CBD, which is found within the marijuana plant, had been successful at keeping the seizures at bay for days at a time.

At the time and to some degree even now, marijuana use is thought of as taboo and much of its medical qualities aren’t fully understood. So, with a combination of trepidation and excitement, Charlotte’s parents both agreed that Charlotte would try CBD.

Marijuana was that natural course of action to try.” – Matt Figi

Charlotte initially trialled the strain R4. It wasn’t very popular among recreational smokers because its low THC levels didn’t produce a high. But it did contain very high CBD levels, perfect for what the Figi family needed. And with the approval of her doctor, Paige Figi administered a dosage of oil extracted from the R4 strain underneath Charlotte’s tongue and waited.

She waited one hour and then one day, and then a few days, and still Charlotte hadn’t suffered a single seizure. The family were astounded. After running out of their original strain of R4, they decided to reach out to the Stanley Brothers.

Based in Colorado, the Stanley Brothers are passionate marijuana growers who believe that marijuana contains an untapped treasure trove of medicinal benefits. This mantra inspired the development of their most popular strain “Hippie’s Disappointment” – so-called because it wasn’t psychoactive, meaning it didn’t produce a ‘high’. In November 2013, Josh Stanley claimed that the strain contained 0.5% THC and 17% CBD.

With an aim to produce a potent medicinal strain that contained as little THC as possible, they had unintentionally become the missing puzzle piece to the Figi family.

Like R4, this strain had the potential to become a powerful influence in Charlotte’s life, and because the family were in contact with the growers, they could work with the company to tailor its effects especially to Charlotte’s needs.

Charlotte’s recovery and the future of Charlotte’s Web

The results were miraculous. Charlotte’s seizures reduced from up to 43 seizures a week to just one. Without the crippling pain and damage seizures were doing to her body and mind, Charlotte could now finally be a child. She began to develop language, eat on her own, and even horseback ride. And unlike many of the other methods the family had tried, there weren’t any serious side-effects.

The story was groundbreaking, not only for other families who had members also experiencing seizures, but for the medical community as a whole. For a long-time, CBD research was considered uncharted territory, but now it was impossible to ignore.

Charlotte’s story has inspired thousands of families across the world who were struggling to see a light at the end of the tunnel. In October 2014, Time wrote that the Stanley Brothers had an extensive waiting list of “more than 12,000 families” all hoping to use the CBD products in order to improve the health of their children. Many families have even picked up their entire lives to move to Colorado, hoping it will be more accessible to find Charlotte’s Web and similar strains.

As mentioned before, Charlotte has also inspired movements encouraging CBD use across the U.S. On March 20th 2015, the Charlotte’s Web measure was passed by the Florida House of Representatives Budget Committee, which means that it’s a lot harder now for authorities to persecute families who are in possession of low THC marijuana, the kind used for treating seizures. This means giving families the freedom to explore CBD use without having the anxiety that, if discovered, the punishment might be severe.

Later in the year, on June 6th, another bill was passed called the “Charlotte’s Web” law. It allowed a number of distribution centers and nurseries to grow the strain, as well as provide funding for further research into its medicinal properties. Cases like these aren’t only happening in Colorado and Florida; many states inspired by these events are becoming more lenient to high CBD strains and recognizing the medical potential Charlotte’s Web has.

A happy ending

These changes of legislation could have never been possible without the brave families who fight so hard for their suffering loved ones and the amazing companies like the Stanley Brothers who produce life-changing strains such as Charlotte’s Web. Because the subject is so close to their own hearts, the Stanley Brothers want to make CBD as accessible as possible to the families who need it.

The brothers have created the Realm of Caring Foundation, which is a nonprofit organization providing cannabis to adults and children suffering from a host of diseases, including epilepsy, cancer, multiple sclerosis, and Parkinson’s. They are dedicated to providing care to those who cannot afford treatment. They also sell a variety of Charlotte’s Web oils and capsules online, which can be found here. They even sell a line for animals, who are not exempt from many conditions that cause seizures.

If you want more information about the strain Charlotte’s Web, you can read up about it here. If you are considering trying this strain, please always consult your doctor before embarking on the adventure.


augusta free press
augusta free press