Just like the children’s book by the same name the story of this high-CBD strain is also full of love, sacrifice, and hope. Charlotte’s Web was created by the Stanley Brothers and named after a very special girl, Charlotte Figi.
When baby Charlotte turned just three months old, she had her first seizure. The first episode was long, lasting about half an hour. One can only imagine how terrifying this must be for a parent to witness. Unfortunately, this would not be an isolated occurrence.
As the baby grew up, the seizures became more severe, not only in frequency but severity and duration as well. The seizures also began to affect her mental, emotional, and physical development. By the time she turned three years old, Charlotte was already wheelchair-bound and completely dependent on her caretakers.
It was after numerous doctors’ visits and laboratory tests that Charlotte was finally diagnosed with Dravet’s Syndrome. This rare and debilitating type of epilepsy doesn’t respond very well to most antiepileptic drugs.
Her doctors placed her on several anyway, hopeful they would defy the odds. Some would work, but only for a short time. None have ever truly stopped the seizures. Worse, Charlotte developed severe side effects from these drugs.
Losing hope, her family started looking for an alternative treatment for epilepsy. It was then that her grandfather read about the antiepileptic effects of cannabis. The Figis acquired cannabis and extracted oil from a strain called R4 (a high-CBD, low-THC strain) and saw immediate and significant improvement in Charlotte’s symptoms.
How the Stanley Brothers Got Involved
The Figi’s wanted to put Charlotte on CBD for a longer period of time. Looking for a good source of high-CBD strains, the Figis found the Stanley Brothers, well-known medical cannabis growers in Colorado who created a high-CBD, low-THC strain as an experiment.
The strain wasn’t popular at that time. In fact, its low THC content has earned it the nickname “The Hippie’s Disappointment” and generally wasn’t a hit among Colorado’s cannabis consumers.
Nevertheless, this strain was exactly what the Figis wanted and needed for their little girl.
At first, the Stanley brothers were hesitant to give them the strain. However, after seeing the little girl and how the family had armed themselves with extensive medical cannabis knowledge, they finally agreed.
Charlotte began taking oil extracted from the special strain twice a day. Pretty soon, the Figis noticed a rapid improvement in her symptoms. Not only had the special oil reduced her seizure’s frequency, duration, and severity, but it had also helped improve her developmental problems as well. Charlotte began speaking simple words at first, which later on became complete sentences. She learned how to sit and walk on her own, to feed herself, and play with her loved ones. She learned how to laugh, run, jump, everything that a little girl can and should do.
It was as if a miracle happened right before their eyes, and for that gift of hope, the Stanley Brothers decided to name their special strain Charlotte’s Web to honor her strong spirit and her family’s love and sacrifice for her.
When the Figis shared their story of how the special Hybrid strain helped control Charlotte’s seizures, it immediately gave hope to many families whose loved ones also suffer from intractable and oftentimes treatment-resistant types of epilepsy. Charlotte’s story has also triggered a sort of exodus of families moving to Colorado in the hopes of receiving the precious oil for their suffering loved ones.
Medical refugees have since flocked to Colorado, all hungry to know more about Charlotte’s Web oil. The Stanley brothers, together with the Figis and the Jacksons (another family helped by Charlotte’s Web) formed Realm of Caring. They created the nonprofit foundation to help educate families who are looking to try medical cannabis for their loved ones. They also help families find safe access to cannabis oil.
CBD and Epilepsy
According to studies, CBD, the nonpsychoactive cannabinoid, has antiepileptic and neuroprotective effects. It can help decrease the severity, frequency, and duration of seizures in several ways.
It helps reduce chronic neuroinflammation which significantly contributes to brain cell damage and the development of seizures.
CBD also helps reduce the hyperexcitability of brain cells. Hyperexcitable brain cells or neurons are easily triggered by the release of excitatory chemicals, resulting in seizures.
Studies have shown that CBD has a very strong neuroprotective property. It protects both damaged and healthy brain cells from neurotoxicity.
It also helps increase the levels of endogenous cannabinoids in the brain. These endogenous cannabinoids or endocannabinoids play an important role in brain health by helping regulate or normalize neurotransmitters in the brain. An excess or lack of neurotransmitters often results in brain problems.
One study involving 19 children showed that the administration of CBD helped 16 out of the 19 patients. According to their caretakers, CBD was able to reduce the frequency and severity of the seizures. CBD also helped improve their quality of life. Another study composed of children with severe epilepsy, also resistant to other drugs, showed that CBD was able to reduce seizure frequency by about 39%.
Charlotte’s Web Strain
Charlotte’s Web is a Hybrid cannabis strain that is 60% Indica and 40% Sativa. It is popular for its high CBD content at about 20% with a THC level of less than 1%. Compared to most cannabis strains, Charlotte’s Web’s high CBD level won’t get you stoned.
Although it’s not a popular strain for recreational use, many people still use the strain for its pain-relieving and anti-inflammation effects. It is also used to control headaches and migraines as well as relieve muscle spasms and muscle pain. Charlotte’s Web is also known to relax and produce uplifting effects. It’s also known to help reduce chronic stress, anxiety, and depression. Oils and extracts made from Charlotte’s Web are also being used to help control the symptoms of epilepsy in children.
Charlotte’s case helped shine a light on a potential new, safe and affordable option for otherwise treatment-resistant epilepsy. Obviously, this condition is not exclusive to just the US. Patients around the world, can and in some places do, benefit from CBD for epilepsy. It is unclear if the same number would be aware of the treatment if not for Charlotte’s story.
While it is one of hope and perseverance, Charlotte’s story is not as easy to replicate for others in the same position, even in the same country. Many epilepsy patients, a large number of them children, are unable to access safe or legal CBD.
Within the UK, where medical cannabis has been legalized, there are many patients who struggle to find access.
This is not how humanity should treat a potential cure to a life-consuming condition. Whatever preconceived notions someone might have about cannabis becomes irrelevant when it is proven to help sick children. One cannot deny others treatment and cures just because they are not comfortable with all aspects of the substance in question. If someone is worried about people using cannabis for medical reasons, despite medical evidence, because they had a bad experience or think it might make the patient lazy; they need to get over themselves. Nobody should stand in the way of someone’s relief just because they cannot wrap their head around it.
Charlotte’s story and the special high-CBD strain named after her give hope to many families with patients suffering from treatment-resistant epilepsy. Her story and how she defied the odds have contributed significantly to the advancement of the medical cannabis industry. It has pushed CBD to the forefront of the medical cannabis movement and introduced the benefits of this nonpsychoactive cannabinoid to the world. She showed people what the face of medical cannabis patients can look like. Anybody can get sick. It’s how we deal with it as a society that speaks louder than anything.
*If you think your epileptic child can benefit from cannabis please speak to your doctor. Children using CBD should always have a doctors approval beforehand. It is paramount that the CBD is sourced from a medical facility as they can ensure no THC in the product.