Tourette's syndrome is a disorder of the brain that is characterized by repetitive, involuntary movements, commonly referred to as tics. Tics are sudden and rapid movements that may be in the form of vocal or motor spasm-like movements. Those with Tourette's may try to suppress the tics, but the pressure to express them becomes so intense that they do so against their will.
Tics may be simple or complex, depending on the intensity of movements involved. Simple tics include rapid blinking of the eyes, shoulder jerking, and simple vocalizations, such as grunting or sniffing. Complex tics involve a whole range of movements, such as facial grimacing combined with shoulder jerking and head twists. In extreme forms, tics may include motor movements that lead to those suffering from Tourette's to injure themselves.
Typically, the symptoms of this neurological condition begin to manifest in early childhood, and may be hereditary. According to a 2011-2012 study by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 1 out of 360 children ages 6 to 17 have been diagnosed with Tourette's syndrome in the United States. The study also states that boys are affected by the condition three to five times more often than girls, while 37 percent of children with Tourette's have moderate to severe forms of the condition.
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) involves repetitive/obsessive behavior which is related to Tourette's. Tourette's is also associated with mood disorders, Attention Deficit Hyperactive Disorder (ADHD), and learning disabilities.
The exact cause of Tourette's syndrome is unknown, but research points to the presence of neurological abnormalities in the circuits connecting certain regions of the brain, including the neurotransmitters, norepinephrine, dopamine, and serotonin, that control communication among nerve cells. Too much dopamine in the system may contribute to the occurrence of Tourette's. Medical marijuana or cannabis may help in the management of this condition because high concentrations of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) can help regulate the release of dopamine.
A 1999 clinical trial by Germany's Medical School of Hanover, Department of Clinical Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, involved the successful management of Tourette's through the administration of a single dose of 10 mg delta-9-THC to a 25-year-old male patient. In this clinical trial, the severity and occurrence of tics fell from a total of 41 to 7 within a span of two hours. Medical marijuana may provide people suffering from Tourette's with relief from their symptoms.