Tourette Syndrome

Tourette Syndrome (also called Tourette's syndrome, Tourette's disorder, Gilles de la Tourette syndrome, GTS or, more commonly, simply Tourette's or TS) is an inherited neuropsychiatric disorder with onset in childhood, characterized by the presence of multiple physical (motor) tics and at least one vocal (phonic) tic; these tics characteristically wax and wane. Tourette's is defined as part of a spectrum of tic disorders, which includes transient and chronic tics.

Tourette's was once considered a rare and bizarre syndrome, most often associated with the exclamation of obscene words or socially inappropriate and derogatory remarks (coprolalia). However, this symptom is present in only a small minority of people with Tourette's. Tourette's is no longer considered a rare condition, but it may not always be correctly identified because most cases are classified as mild. Between 1 and 10 children per 1,000 have Tourette's; as many as 10 per 1,000 people may have tic disorders, with the more common tics of eye blinking, coughing, throat clearing, sniffing, and facial movements. People with Tourette's have normal life expectancy and intelligence. The severity of the tics decreases for most children as they pass through adolescence, and extreme Tourette's in adulthood is a rarity. Notable individuals with Tourette's are found in all walks of life.

Genetic and environmental factors each play a role in the etiology of Tourette's, but the exact causes are unknown. In most cases, medication is unnecessary. There is no effective medication for every case of tics, but there are medications and therapies that can help when their use is warranted. Explanation and reassurance alone are often sufficient treatment; education is an important part of any treatment plan.

In Germany, a study conducted at the Medical School Hannover stated:

"Previous studies provide evidence that marijuana (Cannabis sativa) and Δ9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Δ9-THC), the major psychoactive ingredient of marijuana, respectively, are effective in the treatment of tics and behavioral problems in Tourette syndrome (TS). It, therefore, has been speculated that the central cannabinoid receptor system might be involved in TS pathology. However, in healthy marijuana users there is an ongoing debate as to whether the use of cannabis causes acute and/or long-term cognitive deficits. In this randomized double-blind placebo-controlled study, we investigated the effect of a treatment with up to 10 mg Δ9-THC over a 6-week period on neuropsychological performance in 24 patients suffering from TS. During medication and immediately as well as 5-6 weeks after withdrawal of Δ9-THC treatment, no detrimental effect was seen on learning curve, interference, recall and recognition of word lists, immediate visual memory span, and divided attention. Measuring immediate verbal memory span, we even found a trend towards a significant improvement during and after treatment. Results from this study corroborate previous data suggesting that in patients suffering from TS, treatment with Δ9-THC causes neither acute nor long-term cognitive deficits. Larger and longer-duration controlled studies are recommended to provide more information on the adverse effect profile of THC in patients suffering from TS."