Today, Charlotte’s Web is a highly revered cannabis strain loaded with CBD. Before it became the go-to strain for parents looking to treat severe seizures in their children, this high-CBD, low-THC strain was humorously called “Hippie’s Disappointment.” It was one of the first strains purposely cultivated not to get a person high. It was medical marijuana at its best. All the medical benefits of cannabis, without the high. Which meant anyone could use it.
Meet Charlotte Figi: The Little Girl Behind the Strain Who Changed the History of CBD
At three months old, Charlotte Fiji had her first seizure. It lasted for 30 minutes. As Charlotte started getting older, her seizures didn’t stop. In fact, the frequency they occurred began to increase. The young girl got to a point where she was having numerous seizures every day. And they would last for up to four hours each.
When Charlotte was two, she began to show indications of cognitive decline. She also started to demonstrate signs of autism. By three-years-old, Charlotte was wheelchair bound. She had stopped talking. And couldn’t eat. Diagnosed with Dravet’s syndrome, a rare form of epilepsy, a healthy, happy future for Charlotte didn’t look promising.
By the age of five, Charlotte was experiencing up to 300 grand mal seizures a week. Her parents, Matt and Paige Figi were desperate. The seizures their child was experiencing had all destroyed her health. Her heart had stopped several times. Charlotte’s health became so bad that she was put in a medically-induced coma so her body could rest and recuperate. The doctors informed the Figis there was little else they could do.
Charlotte’s grandfather believed otherwise. He had read several stories about other children suffering from debilitating seizures whose parents were finding success with medical marijuana. With all clinical treatment options exhausted, Charlotte’s parents decided they had nothing to lose.
The Figis attained some R4 (“Hippie’s Disappointment”) extract oil for Charlotte, and this is when their world changed. The results from the oil were almost instant. Charlotte went from having 300 seizures a week to ZERO seizures the first week they tried the oil. After the initial dose, her seizures began to happen with less frequency. Her parents knew they would need this miracle oil on a long-term basis.
The Figis contacted the Stanley brothers, medical marijuana growers in Colorado who had created the R4 oil that had saved their daughter’s life. The Stanleys were happy to supply this family with their now famous strain of cannabis. The strain was so adept at controlling the seizures Charlotte experienced that they changed the name to Charlotte’s Web in her honor.
It wasn’t long after this that another mother heard about Charlotte’s story. Heather Jackson’s son Zaki suffers from Doose syndrome, an incapacitating form of childhood epilepsy. If the cannabis oil had worked for Charlotte, perhaps it would work for her boy as well. Jackson gave it a go. And it turned out to be just as successful for Zaki as it was for Charlotte.
Word caught on quickly. The stories of these children made international headlines. Parents around the globe wanted to know more about it and if their children would benefit like Charlotte and Zaki. Their children and countless others found their health improve immensely by using Charlotte’s Web and other CBD oils that were similar.
Charlotte’s story changed the way the world looked at medical marijuana. Here was a strain of cannabis (that didn’t get you high) that was saving children’s lives. These high-CBD, low-THC strains were a game changer. Especially for children who were suffering from debilitating seizures.
Since 2011 when Charlotte’s Web was developed, there have been numerous studies that have shown CBD to control seizures. And because CBD is all-natural, it doesn’t contain any of the side effects commonly associated with prescription medication. Some of these side effects include: headaches, nausea, hair loss, depression, liver failure, double vision, slurring of speech, irritability, sleep and mood disturbances, and more.
How CBD Works to Treat Seizures
The human body has a natural endocannabinoid system, with cannabinoid receptors found throughout the body. These are known as CB1 and CB2 receptors and are responsible for regulating different functions in the body. Medical cannabis (both CBD and THC) binds to these receptors when consumed, essentially bringing them back to normal when they become unbalanced.
CB1 receptors are typically found in the brain and responsible for regulating things such as pain, cognitive ability, movement, mood, and appetite. CB2 receptors on the other hand, are most abundant in the immune system and have a direct influence on pain and inflammation.
Epileptic seizures are caused by abnormal electrical discharges (misfires) in brain cells. In turn, this results in convulsions of the body and sometimes a loss of consciousness. By activating the CB1 receptors with the help of medical cannabis, seizures start to decrease.
In 2003, a study published in the Journal of Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics found that cannabinoids were highly beneficial to people who suffered from seizures. Marijuana, it seemed, provided benefits not found in traditional medication used for seizure prevention. According to Dr. Robert DeLorenzo, who had been studying the effects of cannabis on epilepsy for over a decade at the time of the study:
“This study indicates that cannabinoids may offer unique advantages in treating seizures compared with currently prescribed anticonvulsants. It shows not only the anticonvulsant activity of exogenously applied cannabinoids, but also suggests that the brain’s cannabinoid system works to limit seizure duration by activating the CB1 receptor.”
DeLorenzo and his team of research professionals were the first to prove that marijuana can decrease seizures by activating the CB1 receptor. DeLorenzo explained this in the following way:
“Ingredients in marijuana and the cannabinoid receptor protein produced naturally in the body to regulate the central nervous system and other bodily functions play a critical role in controlling spontaneous seizures in epilepsy.”
The Revolutionizing Benefits of CBD
The countless people who have found benefit in CBD oil have Charlotte Figi to thank. The power of this medicine brought this little girl back to life. Now 11-years-old, Charlotte is a happy and healthy fourth grader living in Colorado Springs. And because of her story, there are now people all over the world who are getting a second chance at life.
CBD works in synergy with the body’s own endocannabinoid system to treat many other conditions aside from the life-threatening seizures Charlotte no longer experiences. This non-psychoactive compound in cannabis has shown to be beneficial for several conditions, some of which include:
- Pain reduction
- Opioid withdrawal
- Nicotine withdrawal
Perhaps one of the biggest benefits of all is that CBD is non-psychoactive, which means it can be used by anyone. Including children and people who don’t care for the psychoactive effects that result from marijuana that contains THC. Because CBD won’t impair a person’s ability, it’s a medicine that can be used by anyone, at any time.