The Story of Charlotte Figi (Charlotte’s Web)
The power of medical cannabis is undeniable – it has the potential to help people suffering from a variety of conditions. But what’s truly remarkable is the stories behind the medicine – stories of perseverance and hope, of families bravely facing impossible situations, and ultimately finding relief and answers through cannabis treatments. One such story is that of Charlotte Figi, who despite being diagnosed with a chronic condition, managed to find a treatment that changed her life forever. As her family’s journey continued, it marked an incredible turning point in medical cannabis history – inspiring countless other individuals on their way to finding better health and wellbeing.
Charlotte Figi: Her Story
Charlotte’s story is one of ingenuity, love, and the overcoming of a condition that many others have not survived. To hear Charlotte’s family tell it, her survival was thanks to the creation of an incredible strain of CBD.
When she was just three years old, young Charlotte Figi experienced her first seizure. Unfortunately, it was the first of many, as her seizures would only continue as she aged. Along the way, the seizures became not only more frequent but also more severe; by the time she was five, Charlotte was suffering from about 300 seizures a week. The impact on her was severe enough that Charlotte's parents decided to put her into a medically induced coma until more answers became apparent.
The family learned Charlotte had a rare form of epilepsy known as Dravet Syndrome. Dravet Syndrome begins when one is just an infant and is believed to be caused by a mutation in the SCN1A gene. Additionally, Dravet Syndrome is often comorbid with other conditions, meaning that it often occurs in tandem with other related health problems.
These issues aren't the only things that make a Dravet Syndrome diagnosis difficult to receive. It also has an unusually high mortality rate for epileptic conditions due to a phenomenon known as Sudden Unexpected Death in Epilepsy, or SUDEP. Dravet Syndrome actually has the highest SUDEP rate for all epileptic disorders.
What all of this means is that Charlotte's condition was serious and potentially life-threatening. Eventually, the effects of the seizures began taking a serious toll on her body. It was at this point that her mother, Paige Figi, began to look for alternative treatment options that could not only save her daughter's life but also allow her to live comfortably and happily.
Charlotte Becomes a Legend
Charlotte’s mother knew at this point that Charlotte hadn’t just beaten the odds; with the help of the special strain of CBD oil, they were being trampled on. Charlotte Figi was thriving and happy thanks to the strain provided by the Stanley Brothers. This strain would become known as Charlotte’s Web, in honor of Charlotte Figi’s bravery, spirit, and ability to bring a community together to support her. She wasn’t simply a survivor: she was very quickly becoming a legend.
In 2013, Sanjay Gupta, then CNN Chief Medical Correspondent, created the documentary Weed chroincalling his changing perspective on the cannabis plant. After diving into research and meeting patients like Charlotte, Gupta became a vocal proponent of medical cannabis.
Unfortunately, while Charlotte’s name has been immortalized forever by the Charlotte’s Web strain, made possible by the continuous efforts of the Stanely Brothers and the story of her incredible survival and comeback, Charlotte passed away in 2020. Her life will not be defined by her passing, though but instead remembered for her strength. Today, much of the world knows the story of the strong, beautiful young girl who was able to live a happy, healthy life thanks to the love of her parents, the support of her community, and the creation of the Charlotte’s Web hemp strain.
The Impact of Charlotte Figi and the Spread of Charlotte’s Web
Charlotte's story is more than a heartwarming story of overcoming hardships. In fact, it's more than an example of medical cannabis changing a person's life because Charlotte's impact has extended far beyond that. Charlotte's story, and the creation of Charlotte’s Web, have done wonders for the advancement of CBD research, medical cannabis acceptance, and the more widespread availability of this treatment. Charlotte’s story is credited with saving the lives of other children afflicted with Dravet Syndrome. The story of Charlotte Figi, a young girl helped by the power of CBD, has increased the likelihood that more people can be helped in the exact same way.
After news of Charlotte's successful treatment began to spread, a woman named Heather Jackson learned about Charlotte’s Web. She decided to try the strain on her son, Zaki. As a result, Zaki was the second child to ever be treated with Charlotte’s Web. Zaki’s recovery may not have spurred as many headlines as Charlotte’s, but it proved that the power of the strain wasn’t lightning in a bottle – it could be repeated with other patients in need.
Charlotte’s Web was really helping people, and Paige and Heather decided that more people needed access to this therapeutic strain. In 2013, the mothers teamed up with the Stanley Brothers to found a non-profit organization known as Realm of Caring. The goal of this organization was to provide people with the support they needed while being treated with Charlotte’s Web.
Charlotte and Zaki were far from the only children suffering from Dravet Syndrome, and they were far from the only children the organization felt could benefit from the strain. In 2014, just a year after Charlotte’s story began to spread, over 15,000 families were waiting for their own bottles of Charlotte’s Web extract. Unfortunately, since not all of those families lived in Colorado, not all of them had easy, legal access to the strain. That’s where Realm of Caring stepped in – they helped the growing Charlotte’s Web community move over 500 families to the state so that they could access the treatment they needed.
Charlotte’s Legacy Continues
Charlotte's survival and recovery showed the world that the right strain of cannabis could work wonders, doing what other forms of medication simply couldn't without the harsh side effects. In addition, proponents stressed that these benefits could be achieved without the patient experiencing a psychoactive high, something that had made many people hesitant to try cannabis products. Across the country, lawmakers, potential patients, and the general public were taking notice of the girl who'd all but defeated Dravet Syndrome with the use of a specific strain of CBD, and minds were beginning to change. Medical marijuana legalization was spreading, and Charlotte Figi played a prominent role in making it happen. Of course, it wasn’t just Charlotte’s Web that had been approved for use as a therapy, nor was it just Dravet Syndrome that the laws were combatting. There are many other debilitating illnesses that can be addressed with the use of cannabis, and Charlotte’s Web is only one strain. Still, in Florida, medical legalization occurred thanks in part to Charlotte and her battle with Dravet Syndrome.
The Facts about Medical Cannabis
With the spread of strains like Charlotte’s Web and the growing awareness about how cannabis can provide therapeutic benefits without causing adverse or psychoactive effects, it's important to understand exactly how medical marijuana is able to help people. Charlotte's story is a powerful example of what medical cannabis can do and a primary reason it's so important to continue cannabis research.
While the use of cannabis to treat epilepsy has been more widely discussed, researched, and analyzed since Charlotte's survival in 2012, evidence of cannabis' ability to address epilepsy has been recognized since the 1990s. It was then that researchers discovered that men were less likely to have seizures if they smoked marijuana. Charlotte's story reignited public interest in the topic, and since then, a variety of studies have been conducted regarding cannabis and epilepsy. Many people report that, like Charlotte, their seizures become less frequent with the use of cannabis.
The science behind why cannabis appears to help address epilepsy is complex. In general, the cannabinoids found in cannabis, including THC, CBD, and a host of others, appear to demonstrate a variety of medical and therapeutic benefits as they interact with the endocannabinoid system in the body. This system was designed to interact with endocannabinoids made within the body but can also be modulated by structurally similar cannabinoid molecules found in cannabis. The ECS appears to control a variety of functions, including sleep, pain, inflammation, and more. This is especially true when it comes to epilepsy. CBD, in particular, activates what's known as CB1R receptors, a cannabinoid receptor found in the brain, which seems to modulate the frequency and severity of seizures.
In short, when the Stanley Brothers first provided their new strain to Charlotte Figi and her family, they were providing a compound that worked with her body’s endocannabinoid receptors to make her seizures less debilitating. As research into Charlotte’s Web and other cannabis strains continues, we expect to learn even more about what cannabis can do to help people with a variety of conditions.
Where To Get Medicinal Cannabis in Florida
If you or someone you love is suffering from epilepsy or one of a host of other debilitating conditions, then the story of Charlotte Figi should give you hope for the future.
Our Florida medical cannabis dispensary stocks a wide variety of medicinal-use cannabis products that may help you treat a variety of conditions, including:
If you live in the state of Florida, then you’re never too far away to visit a MÜV medical cannabis dispensary. Contact your local dispensary today to learn more about how we can help you return to a healthy, comfortable life with CBD and other cannabis based products.
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Content Manager for MÜV Florida and Contributor for Zen Leaf Dispensaries. A cannabis connoisseur with a passion for explaining the miraculous possibility of the plant, Swan began her journey with cannabis as a recreational user and quickly realized its positive impact on her depression and severe anxiety. She joined the cannabis industry as Receptionist and MedTender and witnessed first-hand the immense potential of the plant for a wide variety of ailments, deepening her passion for alternative medicine. Swan is dedicated to self-education on the plant and sharing its potential with all. She holds a Journalism degree from the University of Iowa.