How Charlotte’s Web Changed A Little Girl’s LifeWritten by Marijuana Cannaisseur on Apr 29, 2019
The version of Charlotte’s Web many of us know and love involves a benevolent spider named Charlotte that forms a unique bond with a little girl. In the story, both spider and girl work together to save a common farm pig from becoming the family’s next ham. In a way, Charlotte allows the girl to truly experience the value of life.
In this modern, true, Charlotte’s Web story, Charlotte’s Web is a strain of cannabidiol, or CBD, oil. This unique strain of low-THC, high-CBD marijuana allowed a little girl to truly experience life for the first time by dramatically reducing her seizures. This truly remarkable story is perhaps less magical than the original, but the far-reaching health benefits the resulting research has provided proves that medical science can be much more astounding than a little magic.
Who Is Charlotte?
In 2006, three-month-old Charlotte Figi experienced her first seizure, which lasted an exhausting 30 minutes. The second came nearly a week later, but was even longer than the first. Unfortunately, these were the first of many over the next few years, most of which landed Charlotte in the hospital.
Relentlessly, Charlotte’s parents searched for answers – why was Charlotte experiencing seizures and her fraternal twin sister was not? How was she able to continue to grow and develop as a normal infant, then toddler, and meet all the standard milestones, all while experiencing frequent, unexplained seizures? Medical testing, including sleep studies, MRIs, EEGs and more, failed to produce answers, leaving the Figis and Charlotte’s doctors scratching their heads.
Unfortunately, Charlotte’s seizures eventually did begin to affect her development. Around the age of two, Charlotte began to regress physically, emotionally, and mentally. She no longer smiled, or happily communicated with her parents and sister. Her seizures began to occur at least once a day, severely limiting her ability to communicate and experience the world around her.
At the age of three, Charlotte tested positive for a gene marker that indicates Dravet syndrome, a rare form of epilepsy that begins in infant or toddlerhood and causes more severe and more frequent seizures over time. As a result, a child with Dravet syndrome is unable to continue to grow and develop due to the constant physical and emotional trauma the seizures cause. Charlotte was not expected to survive past early childhood.
As the seizures continued to increase in frequency, severity, and duration, Charlotte’s parents tried every available option to help her, including special diets, acupuncture, and pharmaceutical drugs. The diets helped for a short time, pharmaceuticals nearly killed her, and – at a loss for what to do next – Charlotte’s doctors suggested inducing a medical coma to provide Charlotte with a break from the nearly 300 seizures per week.
At this point, a then 6-year-old Charlotte’s father encountered an online video about an epileptic boy in another state who had experienced relief from his seizures after using a marijuana strain high in cannabidiol, or CBD, and low in THC, the compound that produces the “high” most people feel when smoking marijuana. The video theorized that CBD reduced the amount of seizure-producing electrical activity in the brain.
While Charlotte’s parents opposed the use of medical and recreational cannabis – especially in children – they found themselves considering CBD as a potential last-ditch effort to alleviate Charlotte’s symptoms. Although Colorado had a medical marijuana program, many doctors opposed the use of CBD in children, citing lack of evidence as reasoning for rejecting the Figis’ pleas. As a result, it took time to find two doctors to approve the treatment and get Charlotte her medical card.
Medical card in hand, Charlotte’s mother found a strain of medical cannabis with extremely low levels of THC and high levels of the CBD the couple hoped would help Charlotte. The family extracted an oil Charlotte could consume, and everyone prayed for the best. Miraculously, Charlotte went hours between seizures, then days, experiencing a break between seizures the family hadn’t experienced in years.
After exhausting the local dispensary’s supply of low-THC, high-CBD cannabis, the family approached the Stanley brothers, a group of 6 brothers who owned a strain of marijuana with exactly the traits Charlotte needed. This strain worked even better than the last, and soon, Charlotte was taking two spoonfuls of the Stanley’s strain of CBD oil twice each day.
Charlotte began walking, talking, and smiling again, and even learned to ride a bicycle with her twin sister. What’s more, she stopped using a feeding tube and learned to feed herself, and even eventually ceased her pharmaceutical medications. Overall, she experienced a near total reduction in seizures, going from 300 per week to one a month.
The Stanleys named their strain of CBD oil after Charlotte herself, dubbing it “Charlotte’s Web”. Charlotte and the Stanleys were featured on a CNN special, and received national attention for their remarkable story. As a result, more and more parents began to accept the idea that medical cannabis could work for their children. The stigma the nation had long held against marijuana was lessening.
Is CBD Safe For Children?
CBD has been found to have numerous potential benefits for those suffering from epileptic seizures, insomnia, ADD, anxiety and more, but some parents remain uncomfortable with cannabidiol. However, the World Health Organization found CBD to have zero negative health effects on either adults or children. In fact, CBD has fewer ill effects than pharmaceutical seizure medications.
Most of the hesitance surrounding CBD oils remains within the stigma of marijuana today. However, CBD will not produce a high, nor is it smoked like recreational marijuana. It will, however, produce the health benefits mentioned with the oral consumption of a variety of products, like tinctures, oils, and capsules.
Since the Farm Bill update Congress passed in late 2018, the debate surrounding hemp products like CBD has been mostly resolved. Hemp is legal nationwide, and its extracts – including CBD – are legal as well. Children may take CBD without fear of legal reprisal or negative side effects. Consult with a physician to determine whether CBD is right for your child.