Tourette's syndrome is a neurological condition characterised by a variety of symptoms, such as vocal and motor tics. Tics refer to abrupt twitches, movements, or sounds that individuals cannot control or suppress. While tics generally do not pose significant risks to a person's overall well-being, severe cases of Tourette's can significantly affect their quality of life.Tourettes usually develops during childhood but tics and other symptoms often improve after several years and may sometimes go away completely. People with Tourette's Syndrome also often have problems with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), or learning difficulties.

What are the symptoms?

The symptoms of Tourette's can vary widely in their type, frequency, and severity among individuals.

  • Motor tics are the most common and include sudden, repetitive, and uncontrollable movements such as eye blinking, facial grimacing, head jerking, shoulder shrugging, or limb twitching
  • Vocal tics, on the other hand, involve involuntary sounds or words, ranging from throat clearing, grunting, or sniffing to more complex utterances like coprolalia (involuntary use of inappropriate or obscene language) or echolalia (repeating others' words or phrases)
  • Tics can fluctuate in intensity and may increase during times of stress or excitement
  • Social Anxiety disorder
  • Generalised Anxiety disorder

In addition to these primary symptoms, individuals with Tourette's may also experience associated conditions like attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) or obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD).

Cause and treatment

The exact causes of Tourette's Syndrome are still not fully understood, but research suggests that a combination of genetic and environmental factors play a role in its development. There is evidence of a genetic component, as the condition tends to run in families and certain gene variants have been associated with an increased risk.Additionally, abnormalities in certain brain regions and neurotransmitter imbalances, particularly involving dopamine, have been implicated in the development of Tourette's.

While there is no cure for Tourette's Syndrome, various treatment options can help manage the symptoms.

  • Behavioural therapies, such as cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) and habit reversal training (HRT), can assist individuals in recognising their tics and learning strategies to manage and suppress them
  • Medications like neuroleptics or alpha-2 agonists may be prescribed in severe cases to reduce tic frequency and severity.
  • It's important for individuals with Tourette's to work closely with healthcare professionals to develop a personalised treatment plan that addresses their specific needs and challenges

Medical Cannabis and Tourettes

There is also research to suggest that medical cannabis can be useful for the reduction in symptoms of Tourettes. A recent study conducted on Tourettes Awareness Day, Wednesday 7th June has indicated findings of a reduction in motor and vocal tics in just six weeks, whilst patients were treated with medical cannabis.

The findings from the six week trial include the following:

  • Those treated with the cannabis oil showed a significant reduction in tics, as well as a reduction in obsessive-compulsive symptoms and anxiety, without major adverse effects
  • There were no changes in cognitive assessments of attention, working memory, and executive functioning between those receiving the treatment and those given the placebo

One participant even noted...

“The oil has reduced my tics by about 50% and I have been able to read a book for the first time in 10 years. Some days I get home from work and realise I haven’t focused on my Tourette syndrome the entire day.It’s changed my life.”

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