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Tourette Syndrome and Medical Marijuana

As of July 20, 2019, Tourette Syndrome is an approved condition for medical marijuana in the state of Pennsylvania.

What is Tourette Syndrome

Tourette Syndrome (sometimes called Tourette’s Syndrome or just Tourette’s) is a neurological disorder most commonly identified by repetitive and involuntary vocalizations and movements. The NIH states that approximately 200,000 people across the country have been diagnosed with a severe form of Tourette’s, while 1 in 100 people exhibit mild cases. Most people are diagnosed with Tourette Syndrome between the ages of 3 and 9.

Diagnosing Tourette Syndrome

The cause of Tourette Syndrome is still unknown, but research has shown that there is a connection between the condition and abnormalities in different brain regions. These regions include the basal ganglia, frontal lobes, and the cortex. Abnormalities in the circuits that connect brain regions and neurotransmitters within the brain have also been linked with cases of Tourette’s.

The condition can be diagnosed after someone has experienced tics for at least one year. Many of the symptoms of Tourette’s can be mistaken as symptoms of a developmental stage, quirks, or tics due to another condition.

Tourette Syndrome Symptoms

Symptoms of Tourette Syndrome are categorized as either simple or complex tics. Simple tics include sudden and brief movements and sounds that involve a small amount of muscle groups. Complex tics involve several muscle groups and are distinct, coordinated movements.

Common simple tics include:

  • Eye blinking or jerking
  • Head jerking
  • Shoulder shrugging
  • Grunting
  • Throat Clearing
  • Barking

Common complex tics include:

  • Repeating observed movements
  • Obscene gesturing
  • Stepping in a certain pattern
  • Using vulgar and/or obscene words
  • Repeating one’s own words
  • Hopping

Symptoms can vary in severity and frequency and can worsen during the teenage years. However, many people who experience an increase in symptoms during their teenage years experience a reduction in symptoms as they transition into adulthood.

Many people who experience tics will feel an odd sensation throughout their body before the onset of the tic. The expression of the tic or the number of times the tic is repeated will help ease this feeling. People can often have some control over their tics with extensive effort.

While many people with Tourette Syndrome do not need medication to cope with their tics, medication can help with tics that interfere with daily living. The most common medication prescribed for helping to control tics are neuroleptics. Clonidine and guanfacine have also been prescribed to aid in reducing the severity of tics. Medical marijuana for Tourette’s is the most recent medication made available to those wanting to reduce the severity of their tics.

Medical Marijuana and Tourette Syndrome

The compounds known as cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) have been shown to offer substantial benefits for people suffering from Tourette’s Syndrome.

Multiple forms of medical marijuana for Tourette’s have been studied, all showing improvements in tic frequency and severity, as well as other behavioral aspects of Tourette’s. This NIH study showed marked improvements in symptoms related to obsessive-compulsive behavior in addition to a reduction in tics. Both simple and complex tics were reduced by the use of medical marijuana.

Another NIH study showed that medical marijuana was also helpful for treatment-resistant symptoms of Tourette Syndrome. In this case, patient quality of life improved due to a reduction in life-altering symptoms.

As medical marijuana continues to grow in availability across the country, more research is continuously being conducted. Continue to check back with Solevo to learn more about how the research on medical marijuana for Tourette’s is expanding.

Solevo Wellness is a medical marijuana dispensary based in Pittsburgh, PA, dedicated to providing medical marijuana relief solutions for Pennsylvanians certified with serious medical conditions approved by the PA Department of Health. Founded by leading physicians, pharmacists, and medical professionals, Solevo offers personal, professional care, and quality medical marijuana products. You can check out all of our PA dispensary locations and visit our FAQ page to learn more about our dispensaries.


Treatment of Tourette syndrome with cannabinoids

National Institutes of Health

Treatment of Tourette’s syndrome with Delta 9-tetrahydrocannabinol (THC): a randomized crossover trial.

National Institutes of Health