Tourette Syndrome (TS) is a neurological disorder that affects 1 out of every 100 Canadian. It is characterized by involuntary “tics” which range from slight physical movements to more noticeable vocalizations. Examples include blinking, coughing, or saying certain words or phrases repeatedly.
People with TS often suffer from other disorders such as Obsessive Compulsive Disorder, depression, or mood disorders all of which can exacerbate symptoms. There are pharmaceutical treatments available, but as of now, there is no known cure.
Though the complete cause of the disorder is not known, we do know that there is a connection with dopamine production which plays a part in regulating our movements as well as our emotions. Coincidently it also is one of the neurotransmitters that is released when you smoke cannabis. Recently, there has been some evidence surfacing that suggests that TS could possibly be treated with cannabis therapy.
Unfortunately, cannabis research is still lacking in a lot of areas, and this is an example of just that. There hasn’t been a large number of studies done and the ones that have been done were of a small sample size. Still, these studies show that further research into this area could benefit the TS community.
The oldest case study was conducted in 1988. Three subjects of varying age (15, 17, and 39) were each asked about the effects of cannabis on their TS. All three noticed an improvement in tics as well as other symptoms. A more recent study from 2015 found that “Tics, usually due to Tourettes, did respond to cannabis preparations.” The most recent research was done by Kirsten Müller-Vahl of the Hannover Medical School. Her review of the available controlled studies on cannabis and TS was published in 2013. Although the pool of research was small, she did conclude that cannabis has a positive effect on patients with TS.
With anecdotal evidence, along with the limited studies, there shows great potential for cannabis being able to help treat those living with TS. Luckily, with the advent of national legalization in Canada, we can feel confident that there will be much more studies into the medical benefits of cannabis.
Shasta Nelson is a California Native and a cannabis connoisseur. She's been involved in the industry at every level since she was a teenager. Currently she provides content for Roottie, DOPE Magazine, and Terpenes and Testing. She's also a creative writer, with a graphic novel underway.