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Research On Potential Tourette’s Syndrome Treatments

Emily Robertson
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Cannabis has direct action on CB receptors in the basal ganglia to suppress tics, even while sleeping. It is able to reduce, and even stop the tics associated with Tourette’s.

Tourette’s Syndrome is often seen as the ‘swearing’ condition. It’s both heavily misunderstood in society, and in many ways, without many useful options for treatment. But, cannabis may be a viable treatment option for Tourette’s.

What is Tourette’s Syndrome?

The Tourette stereotype is a condition that makes sufferers yell out curse words at random. It’s much more than this, however, and some versions of Tourette’s don’t include this symptom at all. Vocal and motor tics can be a deterrent in daily activities, and because of the vast misunderstanding of the syndrome, people with Tourette’s face stigma and ridicule in society.

Tourette’s Syndrome is a neuropsychiatric disorder. It’s largely genetic, but certain brain inflammatory conditions, such as PANDAS/PANS can exhibit Tourette’s as one of the key symptoms of the disease. These symptoms include a variety of irrepressible physical or vocal tics, as well as secondary symptoms like insomnia or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Physical tics can appear in the form of repetitive jerking or twitching movements. Vocal tics are often socially unacceptable or taboo language, clearing of the throat, and even growling or shouting out.

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Image credit: LANC UK

The severity and manifestation of Tourette’s depends on the individual. Anxiety often plays a role in frequency or severity of the syndrome. Secondary symptoms, like OCD, can develop from this as OCD is an anxiety disorder. Furthermore, Tourette’s can prevent healthy sleep patterns. Unfortunately, this becomes a cycle that worsens if untreated.

Children who have Tourette’s are also more likely to experience aggressive tendencies. Around 25% of children are affected by rage outbursts or aggression. Unfortunately, this can manifest as potentially harmful situations for the child with Tourette’s or for those around them. These outbursts can be difficult to understand for guardians and for the child, as they seem to come out of nowhere in only mildly stressful or distressing situations.

How Can Cannabis Help?

Insomnia, OCD and anxiety, mood instability – these are all symptoms and conditions that cannabis treats in other individuals either separately or as part of other the symptomatology of a disorder. Numerous studies have looked at cannabis and Tourette’s, most with positive results.

Studies have shown that the basal ganglia and hippocampus regions of the brain are particularly packed full of cannabinoid receptors. These are the areas of the brain PANDAS/PANS and genetic Tourette’s impacts. When cannabis interacts with these receptors, the brain takes greater control over physical and vocal tics, allowing the individual to manage easier by reducing frequency.

Insomnia, in those with TS, comes from a higher frequency of tics while they are in REM sleep. These periods become restless, as tics can hinder or interrupt sleep. However, cannabis users experience a reduced duration of REM sleep, which can help those with Tourette’s decrease the amount of time that they are most likely to experience tics while asleep.

Mixed reviews have appeared about the effect of cannabis on anxiety in those with TS. Generally, though, anecdotal evidence declares that cannabis relieves anxiety.

And of course, cannabis is also a mood stabilizer! Cannabis can help those who have experienced aggressive tendency to control disproportionate rage or aggressive as it arrives. In younger sufferers, parents may be reluctant to provide cannabis. However, CBD – the non-psychoactive cannabinoid – may be helpful for these mood swings without the ‘negative’ effects of smoking cannabis.

Combination Treatments Are Also An Option

Traditional  treatments are often medications that block dopamine in order to control tics. Studies have shown, though, that combining cannabis treatment with traditional treatments may be the most effective way to manage tics and symptoms.

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Do you have an experience of Tourette’s and cannabis? Has it helped you or a loved one? Please share in the comments below!

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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