Tourette syndrome is an inherited neuropsychiatric disorder with onset in childhood, characterized by multiple physical (motor) tics and at least one vocal (phonic) tic. These tics characteristically wax and wane, can be suppressed temporarily, and are preceded by a premonitory urge. Tourette’s is defined as part of a spectrum of tic disorders, which includes provisional, transient and persistent (chronic) tics.
Tourette’s was once considered a rare and bizarre syndrome, most often associated with the exclamation of obscene words or socially inappropriate and derogatory remarks (coprolalia), but this symptom is present in only a small minority of people with Tourette’s. Tourette’s is no longer considered a rare condition, but it is not always correctly identified because most cases are mild and the severity of tics decreases for most children as they pass through adolescence. Between 0.4% and 3.8% of children ages 5 to 18 may have Tourette’s; the prevalence of other tic disorders in school-age children is higher, with the more common tics of eye blinking, coughing, throat clearing, sniffing, and facial movements. Extreme Tourette’s in adulthood is a rarity, and Tourette’s does not adversely affect intelligence or life expectancy.
Genetic and environmental factors play a role in the etiology of Tourette’s, but the exact causes are unknown. In most cases, medication is unnecessary. There is no effective treatment for every case of tics, but certain medications and therapies can help when their use is warranted. Education is an important part of any treatment plan, and explanation and reassurance alone are often sufficient treatment. Comorbid conditions (co-occurring diagnoses other than Tourette’s) such as attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and obsessive–compulsive disorder (OCD) are present in many patients seen in tertiary speciality clinics. These other conditions often cause more functional impairment to the individual than the tics that are the hallmark of Tourette’s; hence, it is important to correctly identify comorbid conditions and treat them
Medical Marijuana Efficacy
Reports have suggested that Cannabinoids can reduce symptoms of Tourette’s Syndrome.
Two different clinical studies ran in 2002. One study involved giving 12 Tourette’s patients one dose of THC, and then two weeks later, were given a placebo. 75% of this study’s participants reported feeling positive effects from the cannabis. The second study was a randomized trial of 24 participants, all of whom were affected by tics from TS. This study reported that delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), the primary psychoactive chemical in marijuana, reduces tics in Tourette’s patients. No serious adverse effects in either study were reported.
Official Research Reports
Cannabinoids improve driving ability in a Tourette’s patient. (Brunnauer A, Segmiller FM, Volkamer T, Laux G, Müller N, Dehning S, 2011)
Oral Delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol improved refractory Gilles de la Tourette syndrome in an adolescent by increasing intracortical inhibition: a case report. (Hasan A, Rothenberger A, Münchau A, Wobrock T, Falkai P, Roessner V, 2010)
Delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) is effective in the treatment of tics in Tourette syndrome: a 6-week randomized trial. (Müller-Vahl KR, Schneider U, Prevedel H, Theloe K, Kolbe H, Daldrup T, Emrich HM, 2003)
Treatment of Tourette’s syndrome with Delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC): a randomized crossover trial. (Müller-Vahl KR, Schneider U, Koblenz A, Jöbges M, Kolbe H, Daldrup T, Emrich HM, 2002)
Cannabinoids: possible role in patho-physiology and therapy of Gilles de la Tourette syndrome. (K.R. Müller-Vahl, H.Kolbe, U.Schneider, H.M.Emrich, 1998)
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