medical marijuana tourettes

Could Medical Marijuana Be The Key To Treating Tourette’s?

Tourette syndrome affects millions of people around the world, and while there are a few treatment options available, symptom improvement isn’t as strong as people would hope. With new research emerging, though, there are many who believe medical cannabis could be the next step in alleviating the symptoms of Tourette’s.

Over the past decade, many have turned to medical marijuana as a means of treating both their physical and mental ailments. People suffering from chronic pain, inflammation, glaucoma, and even cancer have found relief with the help of cannabis.

The list of maladies it may be able to treat grows longer by the day, and Tourette syndrome might be next on the list. It’s still too early to say anything for sure, but things are looking good.


While the name is well known, there are some misconceptions around what Tourette syndrome (TS) actually is. Essentially, it’s a neurodevelopmental disorder that causes unwanted muscle sensations, leading to motor and vocal tics (we’ll explain those later).

Researchers haven’t pinned an exact cause, but it’s understood that genetic and environmental factors come into play. That being said, it’s been shown that a vast majority of cases are inherited. The exact gene that passes this on, though, has yet to be discovered.


Upon mentioning Tourette’s, many of you might picture examples of people on TV having random vocal outbursts. However, while yelling profanities is connected to the condition, the vast majority of people with TS do not exhibit that behaviour.

Rather, the majority of those with TS present a mix of motor and vocal tics [1] . These vary in subtlety, but many can be regularly expressed without anyone noticing. Motor tics like blinking, shoulder-shrugging or eye-rolling, for example, can be passed off as standard behaviour. Even some vocal tics like throat clearing, coughing, and tongue clicking can be done without making anyone nearby too uneasy.

Those who have other tics, though, aren’t so fortunate. Some might feel the urge to jump or twirl around, or perhaps jerk their head and limbs. Others might even be driven to touch certain objects or people around them. Certain vocal tics can make things awkward too, especially urges to whistle, repeat phrases, say random phrases, make animal noises, and, of course, swear. The latter, we’ll remind you, only affects 1 in 10 TS sufferers, but the others are far more common.

Attention deficit Dysfunction in sensory integration
Executive disfunction Visual perception motor disabilities
Learning disabilities Mood disorders
Social skills deficits Obsessive-compulsive disorder
Memory deficits Panic disorder
Attention deficit Dysfunction in sensory integration
Executive disfunction Visual perception motor disabilities
Learning disabilities Mood disorders
Social skills deficits Obsessive-compulsive disorder
Memory deficits Panic disorder


There are a variety of TS treatments [2] available today, working to varying degrees. The most common treatments, however, are behavioural therapies, and the most researched method is known as habit reversal training (HRT). This method plays off the fact that there’s a preceding urge that leads to a tic.

When the person feels this urge, a behavioural therapist trains them to act out a response that silences the tic. This specific strategy is called comprehensive behavioural intervention for tics (CBIT), and it’s been shown to be the most effective treatment out there.

This, however, is a first-line therapy, and those dealing with more severe symptoms have other treatments on hand. While there is no medication made specifically for tics, some are prescribed to handle the symptoms.

Antipsychotics like pimozide, for instance, have been FDA-approved to treat the syndrome. It, along with fellow antipsychotic haloperidol, has been proven to be the most effective anti-tic medication. These work by blocking dopamine receptors, though, and the side effects could lead to a whole new slew of issues. Until there’s a specific anti-tic medication, though, this is the best medical option.


You may have guessed that faults in the brain’s processing cause TS, but did you know that the endocannabinoid system [3] may be involved too? Allow us to explain. With TS, there are issues with the basal ganglia, along with the thalamus and frontal cortex. Since there’s a dense presence of cannabinoid type 1 (CB1) receptors in the basal ganglia, it’s understood that the endocannabinoid system (ECS) is heavily involved in its function. Since it modulates this system, along with many others, it’s suspected that ECS dysfunction is in part to blame for TS.


Those familiar with the science behind cannabis might realise where we’re going with this. Let’s break it down; if ECS dysfunction is at fault, could it be possible to treat TS with cannabis? With greater frequency, science is saying yes—or at least a strong “maybe”. Getting right to the point, researchers have suspected that cannabis could help TS patients for decades.

Back in 1998, a team of German researchers found that out of 17 patients who reported smoking marijuana in a 64-person TS study, 14 reported either partial or total relief [4] from their tics. Follow-up studies performed by the same team showed results consistent with this trend.

It doesn’t just stop with tics, though. As neurotypical folk might not know, many people with TS also suffer from sleep issues. As many of us do know, though, cannabis can be a wonder at helping people to fall asleep. While TS causes sleep latency, cannabis cuts it down [5] . While tics get more frequent during REM sleep, cannabis cuts down REM sleep altogether. Then, when sufferers have trouble staying asleep, cannabis keeps them knocked out for the night. It combats OCD symptoms [6] too, which are often comorbid. In turn, it also cuts down the anxiety and aggression [7] that many folks with TS deal with on a daily basis.


Even with all the research out there already, only the future knows whether cannabis is a true ally for TS patients. Clinical trials are ongoing, with an official one by the US government wrapping up in 2020 [8] . We have reason to be optimistic given everything we’ve discussed here, but let’s not get carried away. Researchers will have to make sure THC doesn’t cause any side effects in the longer-term and that the tic reduction in other studies wasn’t a fluke. At the end of the day, we just hope that those with TS are soon able to access a truly effective treatment.

Tourette syndrome affects millions of people, and current treatments are okay at best. What if medical marijuana could offer some new answers to this issue?

Child finds relief from tourette’s using medical marijuana

LAWTON, Okla. (TNN) -A Lawton couple says their child finally has some relief from a painful neurological disorder thanks to medical marijuana.

9-year-old Jaxon Whetzel has a mild form of autism and tourette’s syndrome.

The disorder causes motor and vocal tics that are painful and cannot be easily controlled.

“It started kind of slowly,” said Daniel Whetzel, Jaxon’s father. “There would be noises here and there, and then it started with the full body movements, with his head twitching back, and it was just really painful. By the end of the day, he was begging us to rub his shoulders, because his muscles and stuff were so tight.”

And then there were issues at school.

“His teachers didn’t so much understand it,” said Whetzel. “They thought he was just being loud or making noises, or trying to cause a distraction. And then the other kids would notice, and they would start picking on him about it.”

“People were saying for me to stop and for me to just be quiet, and not do that,” said Jaxon.

Daniel Whetzel says he and his wife went as far as printing out informational cards about Jaxon’s condition.

Over the years, they’ve seen several doctors, and tried various different prescriptions, but nothing was working. until a friend suggested medical marijuana.

“I remember Robin showing videos of him like cringing in the corner and uncontrolled body movements and you just felt so bad for that kid,” said Eddie Neugebauer, dispensary owner. “You could see all over his face, that it hurt.”

Neugebauer pointed Daniel and his wife to a doctor who helped Jaxon get a medical card.

Daniel says, it was an overnight transformation after just one gummy.

“The next day we sat there and watched him,” said Whetzel. “I sat there for 15 or 20 minutes and he was just calm. Was just sitting there not twitching, not making noise, nothing. And I sat there and cried. To just finally see him to be able to just rest.”

“It helps me focus in school, and it helps me be calmer,” said Jaxon.

Dr. Stephen Snell says he believes there are benefits to medical marjiuana, especially for kids like Jaxon.

“The goal is trying to lessen the seizure activity both frequency and severity. But it’s the CBD portion that is anticonvulsant in kids,” said Dr. Snell.

Jaxon takes one gummy each night before bed. His Dad says, at first they were worried about what others would think, but that quickly went away when they saw what edibles did for their child.

“We were worried about what everyone would think about it, but what it boils down to, is he’s our priority, and I don’t care what everybody else thinks,” said Whetzel. “If it works, it works. And there’s no negative side affects of it.”

Daniel says he hopes Jaxon’s story will help curb the stigma surrounding medical marijuana.

“It doesn’t make you a bad person,” said Whetzel. “It doesn’t mean that you’re in to anything illegal, or you’re going to steal from somebody to go buy your marijuana. That’s not how it is. It’s just a plant that has positive side effects.”

If you believe you or your child may benefit from medical marijuana, Dr. Snell says to talk with your physician first.

The Oklahoma Women of Cann, Little Buds project, helped sponsor Jaxon to get his medical card and doctors recommendation. They are a group who offer financial help to families who are in need of medical recommendations. You can find them on Facebook.

Copyright 2020 Texoma News Network. All rights reserved.

A Lawton couple has finally found some relief for their child who suffers from tourettes syndrome….using medical marijuana. ]]>