The following information is presented for educational purposes only.
Medical Marijuana Inc. provides this information to provide an understanding
of the potential applications of cannabidiol. Links to third party websites
do not constitute an endorsement of these organizations by Medical Marijuana
Inc. and none should be inferred.
Neurofibromatosis is a genetic disorder that causes neurofibromas, or
tumors, to form on nerve tissue throughout the body. Studies have shown
cannabis has anti-tumor effects and can help manage pain associated with the
Overview of Neurofibromatosis
Neurofibromatosis is a group of genetic disorders that cause tumors to form
on nerve tissue. The tumors, which can develop anywhere in the nervous
system, including the brain, spinal cord, and nerves, are typically benign.
However, in some cases the tumors can become malignant. The disorder,
typically diagnosed during childhood or early adulthood, can cause hearing
loss, learning impairments, heart and blood vessel complications, vision
loss and severe pain.
There are three types of neurofibromatosis, including neurofibromatosis 1,
neurofibromatosis 2, and schwannomatosis. Neurofibromatosis 1 (NF1) is the
most common and typically develops during childhood. Symptoms associated
with NF1 include six or more light brown spots on the skin that measure more
than 5 millimeters in diameter in children and more than 15 millimeters
across in adolescents and adults, freckling in the armpit or groin, two or
more growths on the iris of the eye, soft bumps on or under the skin, bone
deformities like a curved spine and learning disabilities. Neurofibromatosis
2 (NF2) is much less common and can cause gradual hearing loss, ringing in
the ears and poor balance. Schwannamatosis is rare and causes severely
painful tumors to develop on cranial, spinal and peripheral nerves.
The mutated gene that causes neurofibromatosis is commonly inherited, but it
can also result from spontaneous mutations.
There is no cure for neurofibromatosis, so treatment focuses on ongoing pain
management and dealing with complications as they develop. In some cases,
surgery may be necessary to remove large tumors or tumors that press on a
nerve. Once tumors are removed, pain often subsides, but will recur once new
Findings: Effects of Cannabis on Neurofibromatosis
Cannabis has been found to have anti-tumor efforts, which suggests it may be
helpful in limiting the development and growth of tumors caused by
neurofibromatosis. One study found that two children with neurofibromatosis
1 saw their tumors clearly regress during a three-year period where no
conventional treatment was used but cannabis was consumed via inhalation (Foroughi,
Hendson, Sargent & Steinbok, 2011). Two major cannabinoids found in
cannabis, tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD), have shown to be
beneficial for inhibiting tumors. CBD has demonstrated that by activating
the CB1 and CB2 receptors, it inhibits tumor cell viability, invasion,
spreading and growth (McAllister, Soroceanu & Desprez, 2015). One study
found that both THC and CBD have antitumor effects, but that CBD is the most
potent inhibitor (Ligresti, et al., 2006).
Cannabis can help those with neurofibromatosis manage pain. Cannabis has
demonstrated the ability to significantly lower pain, even showning it can
help curtail pain that has proven refractory to other treatments (Boychuck,
Goddard, Mauro & Orellana, 2015) (Wallace, et al., 2015) (Lynch & Campbell,
2011). Cannabis use has been found to be prevalent among the chronic pain
population, with improvements in pain, sleep and mood being the most
frequently reported reasons for use (Ware, et al., 2003). THC and CBD have
shown to help in the management of pain. They activate the CB1 and CB2
receptors, which regulate the release of neurotransmitter and central
nervous system immune cells to manage pain levels (Woodhams, Sagar, Burston
& Chapman, 2015).
States That Have Approved Medical Marijuana for Neurofibromatosis
Currently, only the state of Illinois has
approved medical marijuana specifically for the treatment of
neurofibromatosis. However, in Washington
D.C., any condition can be approved for medical marijuana as long as a
DC-licensed physician recommends the treatment. In addition, a number of
other states will consider allowing medical marijuana to be used for the
treatment of neurofibromatosis with the recommendation from a physician.
These states include: California (any
debilitating illness where the medical use of marijuana has been recommended
by a physician), Connecticut (other
medical conditions may be approved by the Department of Consumer
Protection), Massachusetts (other
conditions as determined in writing by a qualifying patient’s physician), Nevada (other
conditions subject to approval), Oregon (other
conditions subject to approval), Rhode
Island (other conditions
subject to approval), and Washington (any
“terminal or debilitating condition”).
Several states have approved medical marijuana specifically to treat
“chronic pain,” a symptom commonly associated with neurofibromatosis. These
states include: Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Delaware, Hawaii, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, Montana, New
Mexico, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode
Island and Vermont.
The states of Nevada, New
Dakota, Montana, Ohio and Vermont allow
medical marijuana to treat “severe pain.” The states of Arkansas, Minnesota, Ohio, Pennsylvania and Washington have
approved cannabis for the treatment of “intractable pain.”
Recent Studies on Cannabis’ Effect on Neurofibromatosis
Two children with NF1 saw their tumors clearly regress during a
three-year period where no conventional treatment was used but
cannabis was consumed via inhalation.Spontaneous
regression of septum pellucidum/forniceal pilocytic
astrocytomas–possible role of Cannabis inhalation.(http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21336992)
Animal studies have shown that the cannabis-derived cannabinoid,
CBD, inhibits the progression of many types of cancer
(glioblastoma, breast, lung, prostate, colon).The
Antitumor Activity of Plant-Derived Non-Psychoactive
Boychuck, D.G., Goddard, G., Mauro, G., and Orellana, M.F. (2015 Winter).
The effectiveness of cannabinoids in the management of chronic nonmalignant
neuropathic pain: a systematic review. Journal
of Oral & Facial Pain and Headache, 29(1), 7-14.
Foroughi, M., Hendson, G., Sargent, M.A., and Steinbok, P. (2011, April).
Spontaneous regression of septum pellucidum/forniceal pilocytic
astrocytomas–possible role of Cannabis inhalation. Child’s
Nervous System, 27(4), 671-9.
Ligresti, A., Moriello, A.S., Starowicz, K., Matias, I., Pisanti, S., De
Petrocellis, L., Laezza, C., Portella, G., Bifulco, M., and Di Marzo, V.
(2006, September). Antitumor activity of plant cannabinoids with emphasis on
the effect of cannabidiol on human breast carcinoma. Journal
of Pharacologogy and Experimental Therapeutics, 318(3), 1375-87.
Lynch, M.E., and Campbell, F. (2011, November). Cannabinoids for treatment
of chronic non-cancer pain; a systematic review of randomized trials. British
Journal of Clinical Pharmacology, 72(5), 735-744.
McAllister, S.D., Soroceanu, L., and Desprez, P.Y. (2015, June). The
Antitumor Activity of Plant-Derived Non-Psychoactive Cannabinoids. Journal
of Neuroimmune Pharmacology, 10(2), 255-67.
Neurofibromatosis. (2013, January 3). Mayo
Clinic. Retrieved from http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/neurofibromatosis/basics/definition/con-20027728.
Neurofibromatosis Fact Sheet. (2015, July 27).National
Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. Retrieved from http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/neurofibromatosis/detail_neurofibromatosis.htm.
Wallace, M.S., Marcotte, T.D., Umlauf, A., Gouaux, B., and Atkinson, J.H.
(2015, July). Efficacy of Inhaled Cannabis on Painful Diabetic Neuropathy. Journal
of Pain, 16(7), 616-27.
Ware, M.A., Doyle, C.R., Woods, R., Lynch, M.E., and Clark, A.J. (2003,
March). Cannabis use for chronic non-cancer pain: results of a prospective
Woodhams, S.G., Sagar, D.R., Burston, J.J., and Chapman, V. (2015). The role
of the endocannabinoid system in pain. Handbook
of Experimental Pharmacology, 227, 119-43.
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