Charlotte Figi’s Legacy is huge. The recent passing of young Charlotte Figi of Colorado (from what may or may not have been connected to COVID-19) does not diminish her legacy as a case for the efficacy of CBD as an alternative remedy.
Charlotte Figi’s Story
Charlotte was a little girl like no other. From as early as the first 3 months following her birth, she was a victim of epilepsy attacks.
Up to 300 per week, in fact, some lasting more than an hour, with loss of consciousness and muscle spasms. The diagnosis was slow to arrive, as doctors do not always immediately find the origin of such attacks.
After numerous tests, the ax fell: Charlotte suffered from Dravet syndrome, also called severe myoclonic epilepsy in infants (EMSN). Ironically, Dravet syndrome is named after Charlotte Dravet, the first doctor to describe this severe form of epilepsy, in 1978 on French subjects.
This childhood syndrome is very difficult to treat. The existing drugs were not effective and plunged the child into lethargy, degrading the growth of her cognitive functions.
Charlotte’s father Matt left his military post to care for his daughter at home. In search of new treatments, Charlotte was put on a ketogenic diet under the advice of a specialist in Dravet syndrome.
This high-fat, low-carbohydrate diet was believed to inhibit seizures. And this is indeed what happened for two years. The side effects of the diet were terrible, however–bone loss, behavioral problems, and immune system failure. So the symptoms started again.
It was at a time when all hope seemed lost that Matt came across a video of a child in California treated for his Dravet syndrome, and successfully, with cannabis.
The variety used for treatment is low in THC and very rich in CBD. Matt and Paige convinced two doctors to prescribe medical marijuana and test different varieties.
They found 50g of a cannabis species-rich in CBD and had them transformed into oil.
They were in the unknown territory since the prescription of marijuana to young children was not documented.
They started by giving Charlotte small doses of oil but didn’t know what to expect.
The epileptic events disappeared for 1 hour, then 3 hours, increasing to one day, 7 days in a row.
The CBD treatment worked.
They quickly ran out of cannabis oil. Paige and Matt, therefore, sought the help of the Stanley brothers, two of the best cultivators of medical cannabis in Colorado. They had in their boxes a species low in THC and rich in CBD. At that time, no one wanted it, as the recreational market for the CBD knew it had no psychoactive effect.
At first reluctant to allow a child to use cannabis, they changed their mind when they met Charlotte. And they named their variety Charlotte’s Web (the Web corresponds to the dense network of trichomes that this variety sports).
Charlotte was 6 years old when this treatment was developed. From that point on, she only had two or three attacks per month. She has been at the center of two documentaries for CNN and appeared in several TV shows.
The history of her breakthrough has contributed to the legalization of medical marijuana in numerous American states.
Since then, medical marijuana has been more frequently used to treat children with Dravet syndrome.
CBD continues to have a huge advantage– it has no side effects.
Her mother said at the time: “Cannabis oil helps her in everything. She controls her seizures in 99% of the cases. She is no longer fed by a tube, whereas she was 100% before. She no longer has autistic behavior, no longer suffers from insomnia. She walks – she no longer uses her wheelchair – and she talks. She did not speak before, and now she speaks. It changed everything in her life.”
The single most important aspect of Charlotte’s case has been its effect in opening people’s minds.
In their research, Matt and Paige found that scientists have found that CBD reduces the chemical and electrical activity of the brain that causes seizures – again, all without side effects.
It was a revelation for Charlotte’s parents, who before discovering this, was strongly opposed to the legalization of cannabis.
The turning point for the Figi parents was learning of the case in California for a child with the same pathology as Charlotte–which suggests that getting the word out and sharing media about CBD is helpful.
Scientists are among those who have become more open to exploring CBD’s impact on epilepsy, and have followed up anecdotal cases like Charlotte’s with clinical studies.
A full study conducted in Sydney in 2017, Natural News has reported: “A staggering 90 percent of adults using cannabis for epilepsy reported that the plant helped them to successfully manage their seizures. Another 71 percent of parents with children who suffered from seizures reported that cannabis use helped their offspring manage their condition. The numbers don’t lie: cannabis really is helping people. Research has also shown that it can be beneficial for other conditions, too.”
“The study’s co-author Carol Ireland, the CEO of Epilepsy Action Australia, commented that their data shows how important it is for healthcare providers to be educated on the potential benefits medical cannabis can provide to patients with epilepsy — especially when conventional treatment has failed them.” Ireland also noted that their findings demonstrate a growing need to “provide safe and timely access to cannabinoid medicine in order to lessen people’s reliance on illicit black market products.”
Parents in similar situations now are more open to giving CBD a chance in hopes of helping their children.
Increasing pressure from parents, doctors, and activists is forcing the government and politicians to reconsider their stance on cannabis.
By telling the story of Charlotte Figi, the little girl who changed the laws on medical cannabis across America, the medical possibilities of CBD became emancipated around the world.