Cannabis May Provide Relief for Those With Tourette Syndrome, New Study Finds

More than 1.4 million Americans have Tourette Syndrome, a neurological disorder that involves involuntary, repetitive movements and vocalizations. A recent study found that medical cannabis might improve their quality of life.

The study, published in the journal Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research, involved 70 Tourette Syndrome patients who consumed a daily dose of cannabis with more than twice as much THC (123 mg) as CBD (50.5 mg). After six months of treatment, they reported significant improvement in their quality of life. They also experienced reduced symptoms of anxiety and obsessive-compulsive tendencies, and reduced use of prescription medications.

The study authors wrote that while more research is needed in this area, their findings “suggest that medical cannabis may improve their quality of life and comorbidities” for those with Tourette Syndrome.

What Is Tourette’s Syndrome?

Tourette syndrome is a neurological disorder characterized by repetitive, involuntary movements and vocalizations. These “tics” come on suddenly and rapidly and include non-rhythmic movements and sounds that occur repeatedly. In some cases, they involve eye blinking, facial grimacing or shoulder shrugging. In others, they may become more complex and include jumping, touching and repeated words or phrases.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) notes Tourette Syndrome typically first appears in childhood. Males are more than three times as likely to have the syndrome than females. The exact cause remains unknown. The CDC reports that about one out of every 50 children in the U.S. have Tourette Syndrome.

French neurologist Jean-Martin Charcot named the syndrome after his intern, Georges Gilles de la Tourette, who studied nine patients with tic disorders, publishing the results in 1885. Tourette Syndrome is just one type of tic disorder, according to the Tourette Syndrome Association. Others are Persistent (Chronic) Motor or Vocal Tic Disorder and Provisional Tic Disorder.

Details on the Tourette Syndrome Study Findings

Patients involved in the study were evaluated before treatment and then six months after treatment began. A majority of the patients who responded to the second questionnaire reported improvements in a variety of areas. Those areas included quality of life, employment status and a reduction in the number of medications they took.

Further, 67 percent of patients with obsessive-compulsive disorder reported improvement, as did 89 percent of those with anxiety comorbidities. However, the patients did not show improvement in tic frequency or severity.

However, a study from last year, published in Behavioral Neurology, found a 38 percent reduction on average in tic severity in Tourette Syndrome patients after 12 weeks of medical cannabis use. Patients in that study also reported improvements in sleep, mood and libido.

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