Tourette’s syndrome is a disorder of the brain that is characterized by
repetitive, involuntary movements, commonly referred to as tics. Tics
are sudden and rapid movements that may be in the form of vocal or motor
spasm-like movements. Those with Tourette’s may try to suppress the
tics, but the pressure to express them becomes so intense that they do
so against their will.
How Does Tourette’s Present?
Tics may be simple or complex, depending on the intensity of movements
involved. Simple tics include rapid blinking of the eyes, shoulder
jerking, and simple vocalizations, such as grunting or sniffing. Complex
tics involve a whole range of movements, such as facial grimacing
combined with shoulder jerking and head twists. In extreme forms, tics
may include motor movements that lead to those suffering from Tourette’s
to injure themselves.
Typically, the symptoms of this neurological condition begin to manifest
in early childhood, and may be hereditary. According to a 2011-2012
by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1 out of 360
children ages 6 to 17 have been diagnosed with Tourette’s syndrome in
the United States. The study also states that boys are affected by the
condition three to five times more often than girls, while 37 percent of
children with Tourette’s have moderate to severe forms of the condition.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) involves repetitive/obsessive
behavior which is related to Tourette’s. Tourette’s is also associated
with mood disorders, Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD), and
Possible Cause and Management of Tourette’s
The exact cause of Tourette’s syndrome is unknown, but research points
to the presence of neurological abnormalities in the circuits connecting
certain regions of the brain, including the neurotransmitters,
norepinephrine, dopamine, and serotonin, that control communication
among nerve cells. Too much dopamine in the system may contribute to the
occurrence of Tourette’s. Medical marijuana or cannabis may help in the
management of this condition because high concentrations of
tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) can help regulate the release of dopamine.
A 1999 clinical trial by
Germany’s Medical School of Hanover, Department of Clinical Psychiatry
and Psychotherapy, involved the successful management of Tourette’s
through the administration of a single dose of 10 mg delta-9-THC to a
25-year-old male patient. In this clinical trial, the severity and
occurrence of tics fell from a total of 41 to 7 within a span of two
hours. Medical marijuana may provide people suffering from Tourette’s
with relief from their symptoms.