May 15 to June 15 is Tourette Awareness Month, so we thought this was a perfect time to talk about cannabis and Tourette syndrome.
Tourette syndrome is a neurological disorder that causes involuntary movements and sounds, called tics. It usually comes on during childhood and may improve over time. Associated problems include ADHD, behavioral problems, anxiety, learning disabilities, and OCD. An estimated 3–6 in every 1,000 children have Tourette’s. It is thought to have a strong genetic component. There is currently no cure.
There are many pharmaceutical options for treating Tourette syndrome, none of which work for every patient. Tourette’s medications all come with a nasty list of side effects including fatigue, weight gain, muscle rigidity, motor tardive dyskinesia (repetitive involuntary movements), school phobias, photosensitivity, depression, cognitive dulling, sleepiness, dry mouth, irritability, dizziness, headache, insomnia, hypotension, EKG changes, sleep disturbance, disinhibition, headache, stomachache, appetite loss, and increased tics.
Medical cannabis can help ease the tics of Tourette’s without giving patients such unbearable side effects.
We asked one of our most trusted medical marijuana doctors, Dr. Bonni Goldstein, the Medical Director of Canna-Centers, to review the research and share her clinical experience on cannabis and Tourette’s. If you or a loved one have Tourette’s and live in California (or can get to California), we highly recommend a consultation with Dr. Goldstein to find the best treatment options.
Here’s her assessment of marijuana and Tourette syndrome:
There are many patients who suffer with Tourette syndrome (TS) who are finding relief of symptoms with cannabis. A large percentage of people who have been diagnosed with TS also suffer with other significant conditions, such as OCD, ADHD, mood disorders and anxiety. The conventional medications used to treat these conditions are not always helpful and often cause a wide array of unwanted side effects. Researcher Kirsten Müller-Vahl and her group at Germany’s Medical School of Hanover reported in 1998 that 82% of TS patients who reported prior use of cannabis experience a “reduction or complete remission of motor and vocal tics and amelioration of premonitory urges and OCD symptoms” (Müller‐Vahl, K. R., et al. “Cannabinoids: possible role in patho‐physiology and therapy of Gilles de la Tourette syndrome.” Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica 98.6 (1998): 502-506).
In 1999, the same researchers reported successful treatment of a 25-year-old male with Tourette syndrome who received a single dose of 10 mg of THC with reduction of tic severity score from 41 pre-THC to 7 post-THC treatment (Müller‐Vahl, K R., et al. “Treatment of Tourette’s syndrome with delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol.” American Journal of Psychiatry 156.3 (1999): 495-495).
Müller-Vahl’s group went on to do a number of studies on the use of cannabis to treat Tourette syndrome. She published results in 2003, looking at a single-dose in 12 patients and then did a 6-week, randomized trial in 24 patients and found that “THC reduces tics in TS patients without any serious adverse side effects and no impairment on neuropsychological performance” (Müller-Vahl, Kirsten R. “Cannabinoids reduce symptoms of Tourette’s syndrome.” Expert Opinion on Pharmacotherapy 4.10 (2003): 1717-1725).
I have a number of patients in my practice who are using mainly THC-rich cannabis products to help decrease the number of tics and other symptoms of TS and its related conditions. Most of my patients with TS have tried pharmaceuticals and either found them to be ineffective or found them to have too many negative side effects. These patients are seeing good results with cannabis without adverse side effects and, although they are not “cured” of their conditions, they report a much-improved quality of life. I have one patient in his 40s whose wife reported at his follow-up visit that her husband “was a completely different person on cannabis – happy, more active, more social.” His symptoms had held him back and created so much anxiety for so long that he felt he had a new life since starting cannabis treatment. He was able to stop all of his medications and he even called himself the “poster child” for successful treatment of TS with cannabis.
Have you or a loved one tried treating Tourette’s with cannabis? How did it compare with traditional treatment methods? Share your experience in the comments!
William Gardner says
I am seeking professional medical comment on the comparative effectiveness of CBD and THC in treating Tourette’s Syndrome?
This would be covered by our nurse practioner. Please click on the consultation tab located on our home page. I have hyper-linked it here for your convenience.
Please call our offices on Monday if you have more questions.
Noel Faulkner says
I am 67 years of age and have mild tourett’s I have smoked weed for years mainly to help me sleep , however it does not stop my tics in fact it makes it worse ? I wish it did help .
I recently quit I’m 30 have been smoking for 10 years and my Tics have now worsened… it’s so frustrating i never thought it helped it so much…
Viane Ward says
I am a 70 year old lady who has Tourette’s. I made weird noises when I was a child up until about 12. I was not diagnosed with TS then, I just thought I was kind of a weird kid. Then, the tics began to disappear. For years I was tic free, but I did have ocd and anxiety on a constant basis. Then, about the time memo pose came around the tics and vocalizing came on full force. I was officially diagnosed with TS about 22 years ago and have tried so many medications that were either ineffective or had negative side effects. Several months ago I began taking Charlotte’s Web, a cannabis concoction, which has more CBD than THC. It has worked wonders. I still tic a little from time to time, but the overall effect has been wonderful. I hope this information might help someone else.
Justyna L says
Great! Thank you Viane
How much charlottes web do you take?
I’m 24 years old, I currently do not suffer for any tics, except for
A couple here and there when I am stressed. I was diagnosed with Tourettes when I was a child. I remember neurological tests, having those wires strapped to my head and trying to sit still, for what seemed liked hours to a young child. Cat scans, many medications, each with a different side effect. It was the 90’s. Still being a foreign “subjects” to others, people would make fun, not wanting to socialize with me. Mind you my Tourettes was never serve. Because of my disability, I was placed in special education, a place I did not belong. When I was in 4-5 grade my teacher at the time was kind, she watched me excel past my classmates, and fought for regular education for me. I tested at an iq of 135..Tourette syndrome may be neurological, but for some of us, we will STILL excel, do not brand us! I began smoking marijuana in my teenage years, I noticed a difference. I no longer suffered from migraines, I no longer suffered from tics. My life began to actually improve, I currently am a mother and thriving. However I have not smoked since I found out I was pregnant in 2013, I have not since. I truly believe my years of smoking medical marihuana helped improve my health.
Yes I am in similar boat. I consume in evening with gaming in a daily basis. Used to be edibles and now smoke for 3 years to date. I am 30 years old and was diagnosed in 90s with mild tourettes along with ADD. I was on a bunch of different medications bit the side affects either made me foggy, weak feeling, so tired I could not stay up past 8PM, or just feel like a damn robot with no personality or humor.
I feel so much better after smoking but recently I have been researching long term negative affects. Maybe because of other things in my life. I feel sometimes as if I’m not able to learn anything new, scatter brain during day but that I think was normal for me anyway, our department is being laid off so now looking for job, I can’t sleep late anymore. Basically I wake around 7AM and I can’t really lay in bed to rest. It sucks. I miss dreaming also and maybe I’ll rest better quitting? Or maybe subconsciously I’m freaking out with losing job and my lack of social life. I sometimes blow things outta proportion.
On a daily basis I tend to just light up as per usual and then regret it in morning. I dunno what to do. I love the affects of THC but I need to do something different. It is difficult to quit. I’ve done it before but I just love it so much :-).
Some people have wine after work and some enjoy MJ :-)
I was unaware that our fantastic disorder had it’s own month! Fitting I suppose that it is half of one and half of another – I guess these days a month just means 30 days ‘supporting’ some cause from some major corporations.
Anyway, God has blessed me big time, Tourettes included in that assessment. I’ve lived my younger years looking like the outcast of a 4000 person high school, and have walked out of there, into college, a fantastic job, grad school (paid by job), and now another fantastic job. Of all of this, I’m convinced I wouldn’t be where I am if I didn’t mentally and physically go through what most of you reading this have.
My vocal tics stopped before college, fortunately; though the motor tics ebb and flow, they never stop. I’m going to keep the ancillary issues that we with TS may also encounter (OCD, ADD, ADHD, Insomnia, anxiety… ) but if you’re reading this and having all of the above like myself, please don’t be discouraged.
I married my high school sweetheart after dating for over 10 years – all the while she was so against ‘weed’ that she vowed to break up with me if I ever was to touch it again. It was always a point of argument but she never seemed to even consider shifting her point of view.
Despite her feelings, most of our relationship I’ve been medicating because I’d been through every reasonable treatment any pharmacy could provide. Give a name, I’ve tried it, though I drew the line at the ‘typical antipsychotics’ like Haldol and lithium due to the absolutely horrible permanent side effects.
I hid this for years, all the while trying to convince her that there was some good in the plant. We’re talking serious PITA hiding here, don’t even ask. I was ABSOLUTELY convinced that I wasn’t going to stop the only thing that has ever made me functional without numbing my mind like the pharms.
Short ending to long story:
My connect got picked up by the fuzz and I was completely shut off from any sort of MMJ. I spent about 20 days getting it out of my system before the tics started bothering my work life. Another 5 and my wife was asking what was wrong with my tics and was concerned about ‘super extra stress’ in the near term.
An undescript Tuesday morning at about 3:30 AM I finally decided I couldn’t take it anymore and told her the truth: the reason I turned into a different person was because I’d lost access to the one medicine that works, and the one ‘drug’ she’s so against – to the point of ending a relationship.
I can’t say that things were easy in the coming 48 hours, though she finally understood what it means to live with someone with untreated TS – even though she thought that was the case for the whole time.
I live in a medical state now and have finally regained my life. I’m hopeful that someday the whole country will recognize what I have and make sure that us patients that are really using the medicine should be free to live wherever they want too.
5 years of Klonopin – a benzo – and as such one of the most addictive drugs out there, had been my crutch. I’ve had a hard time squaring the fact that I take enough of this drug every day that if my wife takes the same she can’t remember the next 14 hours of regular life.
No longer a slave to the benzo, the sleeping pills, or a slew of whatever else you can name – MMJ has been an absolutely amazing answer for my lifelong struggle with TS. I can only hope that those of you with a worse case than I can gain access to the medicine so your lives can change as much as mine has.
Michael F. says
I enjoyed reading your story.
I’d like to ask a couple of questions if i may…
What is your dosage amount of THC and CBD?
How often to you take it and how is it administered?
Do you feel High?
Valiant Gordon says
Im from San Diego,And have sever Tourretts since age 7.I know use abilify for tourretts but after many years and being one of the first persons on abilify for Ts its not working that much anymore.Ive tried over 40 drug combinations for TS and only Cannibis works 100% .Ive been using it on and off for 48 yearsas I grew up in the 60’s.Now i live in Minnesota and dont know where the lowest priced medical marijuana physician is.The internet has prices from 200 to 380..$ kind of expensive for someone on SSI.I also have glaucoma with hoirible eye pain and severe back pain do to spinal disease due to scoliosis and several car accidents.Cannibis helps with my diabetes too when ingested.But most of all I like it for TS.
I live in the UK. My son has Tourette’s. We have been treating him with a cannabis oil. Low THC higH CBD. It has helped reduce his tics by around 70%. I’m surprised as i thought THC was the important agent. It has also reduced his anger and anxiety. I’m sceptical and worried it won’t last but it has changed our lives so far. Very interested to hear of others experience with CBD as opposed to THC.
I also live in the UK and would love to be able to help my daughter as her tics are becoming much more severe. Where can I get the oil?
I am happy to travel! My email is tabya’at’tanyaflrgan.com
If you travel to California, we would be happy to give your a referral.
I have been researching CBD for my 16 year old daughter. She has ADD, OCD, Anxiety, and tics. I have zero experience with mj. Is she too young? Does she need a dose with a small amount of the? Her weight has really ballooned on the medication she is currently on. Will this help her lose weight? Anyway, we live in San Jose. I would love a recommendation and some advice. Thanks in asvance
UPG Staff says
Each patient is different based on medical history, other meds, age, symptoms etc…In order to get specific recomendation for formulations and dosing, it is very important to consult with a medical professional. We have staff that can do this or you can research a professional through the net. Here is the link for our medical professionals if you are interested.https://live.vcita.com/site/unitedpatientsgroup
Can i ask what dosage you give your son. My son also has tourettes and OCD?
Hi I’m in the UK also and have Tourette’s I’ve been desperate to try cannabis oil!!! How did you get it? From your doctor?
UPG Staff says
Ask you physician about GW Pharmaceuticals based out of the UK. They have a product called Sativex.
Rosie Torres says
Hi. I have a 12 year old son who also has tourettes, adhd, OCD. What brand and dose worked for your son?
KT PRESCOTT says
my nephew lives in the UK and has tourettes/chronic tic disorder. Along with that he has, mood changes, food issues, anxiety around sleeping and is painfully thin, doesn’t have a huge appetite for an active kid,. Can you recommend where to get a cannabis oil in the UK?
Do you work with any natural practitioners?
He lives in Bristol.
any advice or information would be gratefully received!
Nan Davis says
My 21 year old daughter was diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome 7 years ago. She began on the Abilify/ Prozac cocktail. It worked in the beginning but is not working any longer. She decided to discontinue the Abilify due to severe side effects. Her tics are back FULL FORCE! She would really like to try the cannabis treatment because she is running out of options. The only draw back is we live in Utah. Any suggestions? Wondering if the majority of Tourette patients see better results with the cannabis with the higher CBD verses the THC?
Any advice would be appreciated, she is running out of options and is getting so discouraged
Thank you for reaching out. It is best, before making any decisions, to speak with our nurse practitioner. This is a one hour consultation to cover the entire health and medication history of your daughter. After a full intake is conducted, you will have a full discussion on what formulation and dosage is best specifiaclly for her. It is so very important to understand that cannabis is nt a one size fits all protoci=ol. This means that each tourettes patient willhave their specific formulation that relates to their own history.
All consults are via phone or Skype. After you conclude your consultation, you can call us back at 415-524-8099 to understand your options.
I am attaching the link to our nurses scheduling system here for your convenience.
I hope this helps,
Nicole C says
I really appreciate your input. I have two children with tourettes and all the med they are on are NOT working and have horrible side affects. they are becoming isolated and I hate that for them. they need help and I do not know where to turn. dosages just to try to see if it would make a difference. have you found anything that helps her yet?
Cory Callender says
Well…. I have had TS for over 50 years! I have been through the medical and medication ringer throughout my life. But I will NEVER forget my friend in high school who brought me his “special brownies” one day. I didn’t know what TS was back in the late 70s, But I knew after HALF of that treat knocked out my tics by over 80%, vastly increased my concentration, and I was more in Control of my life, for HOURS! Not high, just NORMAL for the first time. We continued this for a while, but circumstances forced an end to it all. I have tried smoking it, don’t like it. Fast high and fast fall off of benefits. Plus, it’s smoke. But ingesting MJ laced foods worked.
I am about to turn 56, I have not used any MJ for two decades and my TS has increased so much since 2005 that I’m on disability, I have a head whip tic that causes literal Whiplash! I’m at wits end. NOTHING else has ever been effective. Going to try to go to Colorado and try to find something that works. But I don’t really even know where to begin. I have never actually purchased any before.
I need my life back!!! By the end of the day I’m lucky if I can still stand. The mass hysteria over cannabis is destroying good people who can have a normal life with cannabis and the fact that it’s natural and not harmful are disregarded as myth!
Frankly, I’m so frustrated it’s making the already bad tics worse!!
Hoping that light at the end of the tunnel is not just an oncoming train!!
Corinne Malanca says
I am so sorry to hear that your tics have gotten so much worse. It would be easier for you to navigate the medical cannabis industry in California as our state has been medically leagle for over 20 years. There are plenty of resources to guide you through this process in terms of formulations and dosings.
If you would like to better understand the process, please feel to call our offices at 415-524-8099.
Wishing you all the best,
Jeffrey Egemo says
I got rid of that same tic by 90% by making homemade MMJ tincture, with a balance of CBD & THC. I take a dropper full 4x daily from a 2 oz. bottle with a screw on dropper.
I am 28 years gone with Tourette Syndrome and AD/HD, before i discovered Cannabis as a treatment i barley went outside and had no friends from the day i started kindergarden all the way to my Exam (18 years old). I had outburst in school, i studdered so much i could barley talk, i had various ticks such as heavy blinking, did humming-like noises all the time, especually when i got nervous, sudden hand flicks all while in school so my self confidence were non existent. I got in therapy and got medicine for my AD/HD but the side effects made it very hard to keep taking them, little to say it was a pain to grow up. Now i have used Cannabis for over a decade and my Tics and outbursts are slim to none, my studdering is nearly gone and the noises i made are also nearly gone. Since i started using Cannabis my life have completley turned around, i can meat people and have a real conversation without them starring and waiting for me to get 1 word out of my mouth, i can walk among people without doing noises and get that unwanted attention.
I have Tourette Syndrome and AD/HD, and Cannabis have helped me in a way that no medicine or any therapy session have. It turned my life to the better and i will never stop using my real medicine.
Legalize Mary Jane
Rob F. says
82% is a bit misleading for those that didn’t read the cited article. Limitations like sample size and selection bias should not be just given a pass because both stand out even if they weren’t mentioned in the conclusion. I am not against the use of Cannabinoids. In fact, it’s the exact opposite, but making a claim as you’ve done in your article, without stating sample size (in this case it’s 17), is a misleading at the least. A subjective questionnaire given to 17 cannabis users seems fairly biased (researcher bias). Any scientist knows the limitations of self-report measures, and they are massive.
People deserve the whole truth so they can make an informed decision. I’m tired of seeing the lies and half truths on both sides of this cannabis argument.
UPG Staff says
Thank you for your comments. We all look forward to better research here in the US soon! Until then, we post reports and articles with the needed links to said reports. Once laws allow proper research with funding, we will see what we have all been waiting for.
Thank you again!
my husband has had tics for years since he was a kid. But it has gotten worse over the years now he can not function in every day life and feels like giving up. Is there anything you could suggest for me to help him it is breaking my heart to see him like this and so unhappy.
UPG Staff says
We have medical staff that consults with patients (via phone or skype) in order to assess their particular condition. Each patient requires a personal protocol, dosing and potency. Each patient has varying medical history, meds, age, weight etc. For this reason, a medical assessment in needed. If you are interested please click this link to schedule yourseld in.
I hope this brings some insight.
I do not have Tourette’s but wondered my son drink hopecbd evening tea for adhd and anxiety he describes the feeling as a relief in tension and just feeling better there is no thc
if you try it itd be great if it helps tastes like a herbal tea and is uk legal ant the uk is quite drug ridged