Updated on December 19, 2018. Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer
Whether your neurofibromatosis (NF) tumors are benign or cancerous, they can create a wide variety of symptoms that cause discomfort and harm. So, effectively treating NF can mean minimizing or eliminating the tumors. More and more research is showing medical marijuana can slow down the growth of tumors from conditions like NF and cancer.
NF is a series of genetic disorders that form tumors in your central nervous system. About half of all patients inherit the condition, but it can also appear without any genetic cause. The tumors created by NF can be benign or malignant.
You want to take immediate action if you have malignant tumors, but benign tumors are no joke, either. Since NF tumors tend to form near nerves, benign tumors can press on essential parts of your central nervous system. This pressure can cause irreversible damage.
In trials conducted on animal test subjects, the data suggests cannabis could reduce tumor growth. One study showed mice with tumors who received the cannabinoid THC had 60% less tumor growth. Another showed cannabinoids could enhance the effect of standard anticancer drugs, helping them reduce tumor growth.
Cannabis may also be able to target cancer cells without damaging healthy cells. While many antitumor treatments kill any cells in the treated area, some trials show cannabis may only affect cancerous cells. Studies have shown this phenomenon happening in models of lung cancer and breast cancer.
The anti-inflammatory effects of marijuana can also slow down tumor growth by lowering inflammation. Severe inflammation can damage DNA, resulting in cancer and tumors. By calming the inflammation near a tumor, cannabis can prevent even more tumors form showing up.
At the time of writing, we don’t have much data showing how cannabis affects tumors in humans. The number of studies conducted on animal subjects is growing. But, only a few studies have tried to observe marijuana’s effects on tumors in humans, and the ones we do have don’t have a unified conclusion. Some trials haven’t even published their final results, leaving the evidence up in the air. We have a lot of work to do before we can confidently say anything about cannabis’ antitumor properties in human subjects.
However, the data we do have from animal studies is promising. The research done on animals with tumors has often shown positive results. Having so much supporting evidence gives scientists the ideas they need to justify more research on humans.
Both clinical research and anecdotal evidence point to cannabis relieving some of the symptoms caused by NF. In particular, it can reduce the severity of issues like:
Medical marijuana works great as a palliative care option for folks who need to reduce the discomfort they feel.
So, can medical cannabis slow down the growth of NF tumors? We can’t say for sure, but we have a good start on our research. As cannabis’ cultural acceptance grows, scientists can do more studies on its impact on human tumors.
Plus, you can still use medical marijuana to relieve your symptoms. It doesn’t have as many harmful side effects as typical medicine, and it can treat multiple symptoms at once.
Every NF patient has a unique experience, and only a medical expert can guide your treatment based on your needs. Schedule a medical marijuana appointment with a doctor or find a local dispensary with experienced staff.