Cannabis reduces Tourette syndrome tics, clinical trial reports

Cannabis tourette syndrome: Image of basal ganglia deformation

Scientists continue to publish new studies showing the numerous treatment possibilities of cannabis, but still, it remains federally classified as a Schedule 1 substance. The latest research showed that cannabis treatment could severely reduce the frequency of tics in Tourette syndrome patients.

This study, published by the New England Journal of Medicine, was a double-blind, crossover trial. The cohort of 22 participants was 18 to 70 with severe Tourette syndrome. Eight participants were women.

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Researchers split the cohort into two groups. They were either given a six-week regimen of 5 milligrams (mg) THC and 5mg CBD or a placebo, then, after a four-week sobering up period, each group received the other option. Scientists used the Yale Global Tic Severity Scale (YGTSS) to measure results. The more tics someone records, the higher the YGTSS score.

After a six-week treatment and data assessment, researchers are confident that CBD and THC could reduce tics in patients with severe Tourette syndrome. Additionally, participants experienced less intense expressions of Tourette-related conditions like anxiety and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder.

Participants in the cannabinoid cohort also reported cognitive delays like poor memory and the inability to concentrate. Those on the placebo, an oil that matched the viscosity and flavor of its counterpart, often reported headaches.

The Wesley Medical Research Institute, Brisbane, and the Lambert Initiative for Cannabinoid Therapeutics funded this study. Barry Lambert contributed $34 million to fund the philanthropic Lambert Initiative after his granddaughter saw promising results from cannabis treatment for severe pediatric Dravet Syndrome.

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There are no known conflicts of interest with the Wesley Medical Research Institute, Brisbane. This study was part of a clinical trial registered with the Australian New Zealand Clinical Trials Registry.

The trial results come just months after a survey reported that Tourette syndrome patients experienced an improved quality of life, a positive employment status, and fewer medications following six months of cannabis treatment. These patients also consumed a combination of CBD and THC.

These findings support the notion that cannabis could be valuable to patients with neurological conditions. The gravity of these findings could inspire more research in the states to alleviate the symptoms of the 3.4 million Americans diagnosed with epilepsy nationwide.

Cara Wietstock is Senior Content Producer of and has been working in the cannabis space since 2011. She has covered the cannabis business beat for Ganjapreneur and The Spokesman Review. You can find her living in Bellingham, Washington with her husband, son, and a small zoo of pets.