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Cannabis Beneficial for Adults with Tourette Syndrome, Study Finds

A new study from researchers at the University of Toronto has found that cannabis is an effective and well tolerated treatment for reducing symptoms in adults diagnosed with Tourette syndrome.

Inhaling cannabis is effective and well tolerated in patients with Tourette Syndrome, according to a new clinical study published in the Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neuroscience.

Tourette syndrome is a nervous system disorder characterized by repetitive, uncontrollable movements or unwanted sounds, referred to as tics. The disorder develops during childhood, but can last for years or be lifelong. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 1 of every 360 children ages 6 to 17 are diagnosed with Tourette syndrome. The condition cannot be cured and the most commonly prescribed pharmaceuticals can cause side effects like weight gain, stiff muscles, tiredness, restlessness, and social withdrawal.

The new study from a team of researchers University of Toronto, however, adds to the growing body of evidence suggesting that medical cannabis could be a safe and effective method for those with Tourette’s to manage symptoms. The investigators retrospectively assessed the safety and efficacy of inhaled cannabis in 19 Tourette syndrome patients and found positive results.

“All study participants experienced clinically significant symptom relief,” including reductions in obsessive-compulsive symptoms, impulsivity, anxiety, irritability, and rage outbursts, according to the study. All participants saw significant improvements, while 18 of the 19 participants reported a 60 percent decrease in tic severity. Additionally, the cannabis was “generally well tolerated” by the study subjects.

“Overall, these study participants experienced substantial improvements in their symptoms. This is particularly striking given that almost all participants had failed at least one anti-tic medication trial. In conclusion, cannabis seems to be a promising treatment option for tics and associated symptoms.”

Medical Marijuana Research

Previous studies indicate that cannabis and its cannabinoids cause significant tic reduction without significant adverse effects. A clinical trial found that six weeks of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) treatment reduced tics without any serious adverse effects or impairments on neuropsychological performance recorded.

The cause of Tourette syndrome remains unknown, but scientists believe that it may be related to genetic mutations or brain abnormalities. Because of THC’s demonstrated efficacy at managing symptoms, investigators have suggested that the endocannabinoid system, particularly cannabinoid receptor 1 (CB1) may play a role in its pathology. THC directly activates the CB1 receptor, which is instrumental in the regulation of the central nervous system.

Of the 29 U.S. states with laws allowing marijuana for medical purposes, just Arkansas, Illinois, Minnesota, and Ohio have approved the treatment specifically for Tourette syndrome. Several other states, however, allow medical marijuana for the treatment of spasms, or motor tics, and others approve cannabis for any condition provided a licensed physician recommends the treatment.

You can access the study, “Preliminary evidence on cannabis effectiveness and tolerability for adults with Tourette Syndrome,” via The Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences.

Learn more about what previous research has found on cannabis and Tourette syndrome by visiting our education page. Keep up with the latest cannabis-related studies through our news feed.

Post by Eve Ripley

Eve is a writer specializing in cannabis education and editorials related to cannabis industry news.

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