Tourette Syndrome, otherwise known as TS, is a neuropsychiatric disorder characterized by involuntary movements and vocal/phonic tics. Motor tics can range from “simple” like shoulder-shrugging, to “complex” tics that involve multiple muscles moving involuntarily at once. Vocal or phonic tics can appear in the form of sound-making (like hooting, for example) or involve the utterance of inconsistent or unrecognizable words and phrases.
To live with TS can be significantly frustrating, even for those with so-called “mild” cases. Sometimes involuntary words or actions occur at inappropriate times, which makes socializing difficult and can cause anxiety for some sufferers. And right now, there is no cure for this condition.
However, cannabis could be leading the way in changing that.
Studies conducted in 2003 and 2013 have acknowledged the effectiveness of THC, the psychoactive component of the cannabis plant, in treating TS if other treatments are ineffective or cause severe adverse events in patients.
Through the modulation of brain transmitter systems, cannabinoids can reduce the frequency and severity of tics. A German study consisted of a twenty five-year-old male TS patient being given a single 10mg dose of THC. Although the study itself was uncontrolled, the therapeutic benefits spoke for themselves when researchers saw the improvements made to their patient’s condition.
After that, a double-blind, placebo-controlled, randomized single-dose study was conducted on twelve TS patients. The results were the same as the study’s predecessors: that THC makes for an effective and safe treatment of Tourette Syndrome.
Another single-case study, this time of a 36-year-old TS patient, reported the patient being free of symptoms for one year. He was not on any other medications, but did smoke one “cone” of cannabis per day.
Traditional pharmaceuticals used in the treatment of TS can carry with them unpleasant side effects that patients might opt for cannabis over. These side effects include dizziness, depression, blood pressure problems, headaches and sedation.