New research has shown us further concrete evidence that cannabis can treat severe motor and vocal tics in those suffering from Tourette syndrome.
The latest research out of the Department of Psychiatry at Tauranga Hospital in New Zealand used Sativex, a whole plant extract of cannabis made by GW Pharmaceuticals, to see how well cannabis worked to control motor and vocal tics in one patient with Tourette syndrome.
Doctors gave the patient two controlled doses a day of Sativex (an oromucosal spray that delivers 10.8 mg of THC and 10 mg of CBD) for four weeks. The patient took a test to measure his perceived severity of the tics. They also videotaped the patient and had objective observers, that were unaware of whether the patient was under treatment of Sativex or not, measure the severity of the tics.
Both the patient and the objective observers noted a “marked improvement in the frequency and severity of motor and vocal tics post-treatment.” This study represents one of the first clinical trials, albeit very small, that has analyzed the effects of cannabis on Tourette syndrome.
Researchers have not yet discovered a cure for Tourette syndrome. The condition seems to run in families, and boys are much more commonly affected than girls. Smoking and drug consumption during pregnancy have been known to worsen the effects of Tourette syndrome. The condition typically gets better over time, and children with Tourette syndrome are more severely affected.
Scientists do not have a lead on the cause for Touretter syndrome either. Stress can exacerbate or even bring out the syndrome, but it cannot be attributed as a cause. However, the fact some patients notice an improvement in their symptoms after consuming cannabis could represent an important lead for scientists to investigate a cause. Cannabinoids “modulate neuronal excitability” and act as retrograde signal inhibitors. Research with cannabis on the brains of those with the condition may one day lead to an outright cure for Tourette syndrome, not just a drug that improves its symptoms.
Other anecdotal evidence exists to demonstrate that cannabis helps those suffering from Tourette syndrome. While Sativex is an expensive drug that consists of a controlled extract of cannabis from specially designed strains of cannabis, the active ingredients are very simple: roughly equal quantities of THC and CBD. Those suffering from this condition may see this new research as hope that a cure, or at least an alternative treatment, exists—even before clinical evidence gives patients the green light they may seek to treat themselves with cannabis, just as in the case with parents of children with Dravet syndrome who have sought out CBD as a treatment.
Credits: Buds from Capital City Cannabis Company; photo by CannaBusinessWA’s Jeff Standley