Ask The Doctor: Gorham's Disease and Acoustic Neuroma

Answered by Dr. Kin Leung, BSc, ND, CCT, CPCC

My son, who is sixteen, has been diagnosed with Gorham's disease in his right shoulder blade. His shoulder blade broke again yesterday for the third time and his doctor has told us that our only option is intravenous steroid treatments to strengthen that bone. We are very much opposed to these treatments because of the side effects. Could you please advise me of any holistic approaches that could be helpful in this case?

Gorham's disease is a very rare bone disorder that causes bone loss through abnormal blood-vessel growth, a process which is called angiogenesis that can also happen in cancer. Gorham’s disease can affect one or more bones in the body and is often associated with the skull, shoulder, and pelvis. As the bone disappears, it is replaced with fibrous tissue, and the patient can be left with a deformity. Gorham’s disease can present with signs of pain, swelling, and spontaneous fractures. The cause of Gorham’s disease is unknown; it affects children of both sexes equally and only 200 cases have been reported with a prevalence of less than one in a million. Because this disease is rare, no standardized therapy is available.

Treatments that have been useful in addressing this disease are surgery, radiotherapy, and various medications and supplements: vitamin D, sodium fluoride, calcium glycerophosphate, interferon, and bisphosphonates. In some cases, Gorham's disease has improved without treatment.

One case report shows that a high dose of vitamin D administered intravenously and orally can be used to help control Gorham’s disease. Radiotherapy and interferon have been useful in treating the disease, as well, because it is known to inhibit angiogenesis, or abnormal blood vessel growth.

There are many natural remedies and treatments that are useful in inhibiting angiogenesis such as Artemisia annua (wormwood), Curcuma longa (curcumin), resveratrol and proanthocyanidin (grape seed extract), Camellia sinensis (green tea), and Panax ginseng just to name a few. These herbs must be used with caution and under supervision of a physician because of the potential for interactions with various medications and side effects that can develop.

As always, please consult your local naturopathic physician or integrative medical doctor for more information regarding natural treatment or before starting any treatments at all.

 

What alternative medical procedure(s) exist for a small or medium acoustic neuroma?

An acoustic neuroma is a slow-growing tumor on the vestibulocochlear nerve, which connects the ear to the brain, also known as a vestibular schwannoma. An acoustic neuroma is a benign, non-cancerous tumor that has been linked with the genetic disorder neurofibromatosis type 2 (NF2) (which causes noncancerous growths in the nervous system). The symptoms vary based on the size and location of the tumor. Some of the more common symptoms are:

>> Sensation of movement (vertigo)

>> Hearing loss

>> Ringing in the ear (tinnitus)
 

Studies show that acoustic neuroma can be caused by prolonged exposure to loud noises. The results revealed that individuals reporting loud noise exposure from any source, including loud machines, power tools, construction work, and loud music, were at an increased risk for acoustic neuroma.

The conventional treatments vary depending on the size and location of the tumor. Usually, a period of watchful waiting is employed as it is a slow-growing tumor. Radiation is also an option to stop the neuroma from growing, or surgical removal. Regular MRI scans will be done to monitor the progression of the tumor. If the neuroma is not treated, it can damage nerves by causing space-occupied lesions that can compress other surrounding structures.

There are many natural remedies and treatments that are useful in inhibiting tumor growths. In-vitro studies have shown curcumin, an extract found in turmeric, helps decrease tumors in schwannoma and neuroblastoma cells. CoQ10 has also been useful in the treatment of tinnitus which can be caused by acoustic neuromas. These are just some of the many natural herbs and supplements that can help, but please consult a physician before using these herbs, as they can have interactions with various medications.

As always please consult your local naturopathic physician or integrative medical doctor for more information regarding the natural treatments or before starting any treatments at all.

 

Dr. Kin Leung, B.Sc., ND, CCT, CPCC, has received special training as an oncology resident and has obtained additional certifications in ozone therapy, mesotherapy, facial rejuvenation and body sculpting (cosmetic) acupuncture, parenteral therapy, and certified chelation therapy. Dr. Kin now practices at the Red Deer Wellness Clinic in Red Deer, Alberta, Canada.