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Tourette’s is Helped by THC, Here’s Research

Emily Robertson
Lonely Patient in Corridor

While the research is sparse and inconclusive on cannabis for Tourette’s Syndrome, anecdotal reports are all positive.

Many people greatly misunderstand Tourette’s Syndrome (TS). As such, patients face minimally effective treatments. Some deride cannabis use for TS as an ‘excuse’ for recreational use. It’s never taken seriously, even if anecdotal evidence is overwhelmingly positive. The truth is, there is minimal research in all aspects of cannabis medicine due to its Schedule I status and we all need to reconsider the perceived gold standard of “double-blind-placebo” studies.

Tourette's Word Cloud, Tourette's

Popular culture characterizes TS as something that makes a person scream out in violent or aggressive language. However, it’s a lot more complicated than that and, like most conditions, Tourette Syndrome has a spectrum of severity.

Tourette’s is a neurological disorder that affects an individual’s ability to fully control movements and sounds. Doctors call these involuntary actions ‘tics.’ Tics differ from person to person, appearing as motor (movement) or vocal (sound) tics. These tics can be completely debilitate a person.

Currently, treatment for TS is, to put it bluntly, disappointing.  These include cognitive or comprehensive behavioural intervention therapy, massage and chiropractic therapy, and some medications, like botox injections, that aim to reduce tics and the pain associated with them.

These do work for some people, but it’s a trial and error game and some people never really find a treatment that works well. If you’re interested in learning more about specific treatments, see Tourette Canada.

Cannabis for Vocal and Motor Tics

We won’t pretend that current studies (like this one from 2005, from 2013, and another from 2017) have conclusively proven that cannabinoids (THC) are effective for everyone who has TS.  What the research does prove, however, is that cannabis and THC treatments can help a large percentage of those with TS without negative side effects.

At its worst result, doctors didn’t deem cannabis completely ineffective. This is a major contrast to current treatments.  These have side effects like stiffness, fatigue, weight gain, social withdrawal, and restlessness, and still don’t eliminate tics.

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Research professionals can’t agree on cannabis for Tourette’s Syndrome. However, you need to do what your body tells you. If you know it helps with your tics, then it could be worth exploring. Cannabis has a wide range of medicinal value, so consuming won’t harm you and may actually help. After all, studies seem conclusive in the fact that use of cannabis doesn’t have negative side effects in those with TS. That seems worth it to us.

Have you tried cannabis for your TS? Please share your story in the comments to help our readers in making their decisions.

Emily Robertson

Emily Robertson has been writing freelance and contract work since 2011. She has written on a variety of topics, including travel writing of North America and the growing legalized cannabis industry across the globe. Robertson has a master’s degree in literature and gender studies, and brings this through in her writing by always trying to explore different perspectives. Born and raised in southwestern Ontario, Robertson moved to Glasgow, Scotland in 2016 to undergo her doctorate in Scottish Literature. She lives in the West End with her dog, Henley.

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