Penny Howard uses a microscope to view her daughter's donated tissue for science research

Does Cannabis Stop Seizures? Penn Researchers Study Donated CDKL5 Brain Tissue

“A parent should never have to tell the story of their children in the past tense. However, there are moments when a child’s memory can live on to impact generation after generation. Harper Howard is one such child whose contribution to the medical and CBD community will live on for years beyond the five she shared with this world.”

Penny Howard’s 5 year old daughter, Harper Howard, sadly passed away on Jan. 8, 2016. This tragic loss stunned her family, her community, and all those who followed her life and battle against CDKL5 epilepsy. However, thanks to the unselfish and hopeful decision her parents made, Harper’s bold spirit lives on. After donating their little girl’s brain tissue to science, they, and the scientific community, are now witnessing their daughter’s contribution to CDKL5 research.

Penn Medicine

Penn Medicine is conducting groundbreaking research that could potentially help others with CDKL5, a rare form of epilepsy. Dr. Frances Jensen, chair of neurology at Penn Medicine, hopes to specifically narrow down and find out what causes CDKL5. She also wants to study Harper’s brain tissue samples in depth because Harper’s “banked” brain tissue is the only sample of a human who took 28 months of cannabis oil.

So far in her studies, Dr. Jensen and her team have made an amazing discovery, albeit a frustrating one: the brain of someone with CDKL5 doesn’t appear to be all that different from a normal brain. “We keep a brain slice alive for many hours, and we can be recording from the cells talking to each other,” she said. “We can see them have mini-seizures… and we can then try out drugs to see if the drugs block that abnormal activity.”1

Dr. Jensen will also attempt something she hadn’t considered as a neuroscientist: administering cannabis to mice. There seems to be promising evidence from clinical trials that give researchers hope in discovering new methods of treatment for those suffering from CDKL5. 1

Penny’s Medicine

Penny Howard agrees with Penn Medicine and is hopeful that the research conducted will help find a cure and/or ease the seizures and other symptoms that follow it.

“Throughout her five-year battle with CDKL5 epilepsy, Harper achieved so many milestones and, as a daily hemp cannabidiol (CBD) oil consumer, she became a shining example of what the ‘new normal’ can be for special needs children. Harper’s living legacy is furthering science and medical research.”

Harper Howard was just two weeks old when she had her first seizure. By 19 months, she was having as many as 40 per day. “The first three years of Harper’s life were just a blur … of hospital visits, of treatments and procedures, just trying to keep her alive,” Howard said.

“All she was really doing was existing.”

HempMeds® And The Howards

HempMeds® CEO Dr. Stuart Titus on Hope and the Howards, “We applaud Penny’s courage to continue sharing her daughter’s story, and as we’ve seen time and again in legalization efforts across the nation, families of young children with special needs are helping drive the conversation around cannabis reform by sharing their stories.”

Disclaimer: because our CBD oil products are categorized as dietary supplements, HempMeds® follows the FDA’s DSHEA guidelines and cannot endorse any specific medical benefits of CBD or the benefits of hemp oil. The quotes from Penny Howard in this article are her own words and opinions. HempMeds® makes no claims as to any specific benefits, we are simply reporting on the Howard’s story as it develops.


1 From the story Could Medical Marijuana Prevent Seizures? Researchers at Penn Medicine Are Hoping to Find Out, by Alicia Victoria Lozano, NBC Philadelphia

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