Condition Report: Tourette Syndrome

September 23, 2019


In 2017, the National Academies of Science, Engineering & Medicine released a comprehensive report, “The Health Effects of Cannabis & Cannabinoids”, based on the research that had been done to date. Following that valuable report, we’ve been providing weekly Condition Reports on 2018 research for each of the conditions cited in that report, such as chronic pain, cancer, anorexia, and more – these reports seek to provide evidence for both medical benefits and risks for each condition.

Because prohibitive cannabis regulations have, for years, limited the amount of available information, we believe it is important to educate the public about up-to-date research. Although medical cannabis usage is still both controversial and inconclusive, the World Health Organization has urged for nations to remove cannabis from Schedule IV from their list of drug scheduling, which would allow the protection for researchers to conduct more comprehensive studies. and its affiliates aim to provide general information about cannabis consumption in the hopes for policymakers, users, researchers, and the general public to make informed decisions about cannabis and its derived products. In order to do this properly, we must seek and report the best available research for a better understanding of cannabis as it takes on the medical field.



The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (2018) states that 0.3% of children have Tourette Syndrome. This is equivalent to 138,000 cases diagnosed based on parental reporting. The exact number of all ages, however, is unknown (CDC, 2018). Tourette Syndrome is a neurological disorder that affects the basal ganglia, the part of the brain that performs voluntary motor functions (Pichler, Kawohl, Seifritz and Roser, 2018). Although there are some medical treatments available, research has shown that in people with Tourette syndrome, medicinal cannabis may be a safer treatment option.

Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) and cannabidiol (CBD) have been proclaimed for the use of the primary therapeutic relief to reduce the intensity and frequency of Tourette-induced tics of a patient (Pichler, Kawohl, Seifritz and Roser, 2018). Pichler et al. conducted a study at the Tauranga Hospital in New Zealand, administering Sativex prescription drug to test subjects, which contains THC and CBD. The results reported support earlier research suggesting that “cannabinoids are a safe and effective treatment for TS and should be considered in treatment-resistant cases” (Pichler et al., 2018).

Another study with similar findings was published in the CNS Drugs Journal, and it examined the properties of THC regarding reducing tics and the same behaviors such as those associated with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) in TS patients (Quezada and Coffman, 2018). Quezada and Coffman found a significant correlation between tic improvement and plasma concentration of maximum THC, thus, concluding that a single-dose treatment with Delta(9)-THC is effective and safe in the treatment of tics and OCD in TS patients.

Additionally, Szejko, Jakubovski and Muller-Vahl (2018) focused on the use of Nabiximols, which is another cannabis-based drug consisting of both THC and CBD, with CBD components preventing THC’s psychotropic effects. The sublingually (under the tongue) administration of Nabiximols resulted in faster absorption and increased beneficial effects, while patients reported a 22.2% decrease in the severity of their tics (Szejko et al., 2018).