Tourette's Syndrome

Tourette's Syndrome: Overview

Tourette's syndrome (TS) is a neurological condition that causes motor incoordination.  Although popularly known for causing coprolalia (involuntary utterance of vulgar language) and echolalia (involuntary repetition of words spoken by others), TS is really characterized by involuntary movements ("tics") of all kinds.  While involuntary vocalizations may serve the interests of stand-up comedians, they are a minor part of this complex and poorly understood condition.

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Causes and Development

TS is inherited, usually beginning in childhood, and waxes and wanes, usually decreasing in frequency and severity in adolescence and early adulthood.

Treatment and Prevention

Drugs are the usual treatment approach, reducing frequency and severity of symptoms, but they do not cure and often have side-effects.  Psychological help for people with TS and their families may be needed for this complex disorder.

Signs, symptoms & indicators of Tourette's Syndrome:

Symptoms - Muscular

(Severe) face twitches

In the case of Tourette's syndrome, a neurological disorder that develops in childhood, the muscle twitches known as tics are part of a complex nervous system disease that later involves involuntary actions, such as shoulder shrugs, shouting, or stamping movements.

Tourette's Syndrome suggests the following may be present:


Allergy to Foods (Hidden)

It is thought that food allergies can trigger the tics in TS.  Sherry A Rogers, MD, a specialist in environmental medicine, reports that all of the TS cases she has seen have a least one nutrient deficiency, and usually several.  She notes that all of these patients have hidden mold, dust, chemical and food sensitivities. [Health Counselor, Vol.7, No.4]


Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

It is now recognized that obsessive-compulsive symptoms occur in about half of patients with Tourette Syndrome.  One informal survey of TS patients found that 72% (18 out of 25) had obsessive compulsive traits.

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Tourette's Syndrome can lead to:


Muscle Cramps / Twitching

The "tics" commonly seen in TS may include uncontrollable blinking, facial grimaces, head jerking, muscle twitches, as well as involuntary vocalizations.

Recommendations for Tourette's Syndrome:

Amino Acid / Protein

Tryptophan / 5HTP

The low blood serotonin and tryptophan levels seen in Tourette's syndrome (TS) are consistent with the wide range of behavioral disorders expected in such cases [ Am J Med Genet, Aug 1990;36(4): pp.418-30].  As far as we know, tryptophan therapy for Tourette's syndrome has not yet been explored.  However, TS is quite similar in many respects to obsessive/compulsive disorders which do respond to tryptophan supplementation.  This observation provides a ray of hope for individuals trying to cope with the symptoms of TS.

Botanical / Herbal


A single 5-10mg dose of a compound extracted from marijuana (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol, D9-THC) improved tics and obsessive-compulsive behavior in a well-designed study of 12 adults with Tourette's syndrome.  Only mild transient side-effects were observed in some patients. [Pharmacopsychiatry 2002;35(2): pp.57-61]

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