The use of marijuana for medical purposes has been controversial for many years. Although some states have legalized its use, it still remains a crime on the federal level. Many also questioned whether it would actually help patients. Over the years success stories have been piling up, and six-year-old Charlotte Figi's story is one of the most remarkable of them all.
Charlotte's story, which was documented in a report by Dr. Sanjay Gupta of CNN, shows just how effective medical marijuana can be.
Charlotte suffered from what was believed to be an untreatable form of epilepsy where she suffered up to 50 seizures per night. The Figis had tried everything before turning to marijuana: Dozens of powerful medications, strange diets, and even acupuncture. To make matters worse, a few of these treatment options almost lead to her death.
With no idea what else to do, doctors told her parents that they would either give her a powerful veterinary medication used on epileptic dogs, or put her in a medically-induced coma. These were not acceptable options for her parents, so they turned their eyes to the more unconventional option of medical marijuana.
The Family’s Uncertainty
Obtaining medical marijuana proved to be difficult for the couple. There were no official guidelines to follow, no obvious sources of marijuana, and no guarantee that it would even work. The entire process was surrounded by uncertainty, but there seemed to be no other option for Charlotte. Luckily the Figi family lived Colorado, a state that had legalized marijuana completely. Once the Figi family got their daughter a medical marijuana card, they began the search for medical marijuana for their daughter.
The main issue they ran into was that most of the marijuana available was high in THC (psychoactive component) which would not help quiet Charlotte's seizures. Eventually her parents found a strain of marijuana that was high in CBD (cannabidiol), and the results were extraordinary.
Unbelievably Successful Results
Charlotte often suffered up to 50 seizures per night. When her mother first gave her the cannabis high in CBD, she waited for the first seizure to start. Hours passed by and Charlotte had no seizures, something that had never happened before. Her parents were thrilled that they may have finally found something that could aid their daughter, but their happiness was short-lived. CBD-based marijuana was very rare and cost up to 2000 dollars per month (none of which was covered by any insurance). The Figis simply did not have the funds necessary to make this happen, and all hope seemed lost. That was until they met the Stanley Brothers.
More About the Stanley Brothers
The Stanley Brothers are six brothers who had been one of the biggest marijuana producers in the state. Their dispensary business was booming, but most of their products were high in THC. They eventually decided to experiment in growing marijuana high in CBD, but quickly found that there simply wasn't a market for it. Once they met the Figis, however, they realized that this endless supply of CBD cannabis may have a use after all. Once they learned of Charlotte's story, they offered to give her parents a steady supply of their product for an affordable price. Charlotte has since shown great signs of improvement, and her parents couldn't be happier.
Charlotte is regarded by many as a symbol of innovation in the world of medical marijuana. The marijuana strain that has helped her and many others has been named Charlotte’s Web.
How Does Medical Marijuana Work?
What people may not realize is that the body already produces marijuana-like chemicals naturally in order to quiet the mind and fight inflammation and other illnesses in the body. What medical marijuana does is boost these natural chemicals and make them perform better. Most marijuana strains contain tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD). THC is the psychoactive part of marijuana that causes the "high" that is so often sought by recreational users. The main effects of THC consumption are relaxation, altered senses, fatigue, hunger, and reduced aggression.
CBD has the same chemical formula as THC, but the atoms are arranged differently, therefore causing different effects. CBD is known for reducing psychotic symptoms, relieving convulsions and nausea, decreasing feelings of anxiety, and decreasing inflammation.
What Can Be Treated with Medical Marijuana?
Studies of medical marijuana are in fairly short supply, but many doctors have used it to treat a wide variety of ailments to relatively good results. This is mainly due to the fact that cannabis is very well suited for reducing pain and inflammation, two of the most common symptoms of many diseases, especially chronic disease. With this in mind, here is a list of some conditions that can be fought with THC or CBD.
Alzheimer's Disease - THC has been shown to reduce amyloid plaques that are known for causing Alzheimer's.
Brain Cancer - In pre-clinical studies, THC was shown to reduce levels of vascular endothelial growth factor (VEGF) in glioma (brain cancer) cells. Essentially this means that brain tumors will not be able to sustain blood vessels needed to grow and spread the tumor.
Asthma/Respiratory Issues - THC is also a very effective bronchodilator, which means that it can open the airways and make it easier for patients to breathe.
Multiple Sclerosis/Muscle Spasm Causes - THC is an anti-spasmodic, which means it can relax the muscles and prevent muscle spasms. This makes it useful for patients who suffer from MS or other muscle affecting diseases.
Inflammation - THC is an incredibly strong anti-inflammatory agent. So much so that it has been said to be 20 times more effective than aspirin, and two times more effective than hydrocortisone.
Anxiety Disorders - CBD is great for quieting the mind, which works wonders in patients that struggle with anxiety disorders.
Epilepsy - As detailed in the story above, CBD can help epilepsy patients by preventing convulsions.
Neuroinflammation - CBD can be used to prevent and reduce inflammation in the brain, which is responsible for many neurodegenerative diseases.
Chronic Nausea/Vomiting - CBD works as an anti-emetic, which helps to reduce nausea and prevent fits of vomiting.
Schizophrenia - The same way CBD quiets anxious thoughts, it can also quiet the disjointed and distracting thoughts often associated with Schizophrenia.
Depression - CBD not only reduces anxiety, but it can work as an anti-depressant as well.
These are only a few of the possible benefits of medical marijuana. While it can still be difficult to navigate the legal grey area that it often entails, further study may solidify medical marijuana as a legitimate treatment for these conditions.