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Medical cannabis effective in Tourette’s syndrome – study

Cannabis was shown to improve symptoms and quality of life in patients with Tourette’s syndrome.

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Policymakers urged to consider real world evidence for medical cannabis

A recent study has found medical cannabis to be effective in improving symptoms and quality of life in patients with Tourette’s syndrome.

The small study, published earlier this month, backs up previous research which suggests medical cannabis may be an effective and well-tolerated treatment for patients living with Tourette’s syndrome.

Tourette’s is a neuropsychiatric disorder, which usually develops in childhood, and causes the individual to make involuntary sounds and movements, known as tics. 

In many cases, these tics are not harmful to the person’s overall health, but severe Tourette’s can still have a huge impact on their quality of life.

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Existing treatment options include behavioural therapies such as Habit Reversal Therapy (HRT) and Comprehensive Behavioural Intervention Therapy (CBIT), as well as a range of psychiatric drugs. 

Researchers recruited 18 patients to participate in the trial, which was based at the Tel-Aviv Sourasky Movement Disorders Unit (MDU) in Israel. Three of these withdrew before the end of the study.

Medical cannabis containing a ratio of 10:2 THC:CBD  was consumed via a number of different administration methods, including as an oil extract and vaporised or smoked as flower.

Outcomes were measured using the Yale Global Tic Severity Scale (YGTSS) and Premonitory Urge for Tic Scale (PUTS), which are used to measure the severity, frequency and interference of tics.

Following 12 weeks of treatment, researchers saw an average reduction 38 per cent in YGTSS-Total and a 20 per cent reduction of Premonitory Urge for Tic Scale (PUTS) scores, as well as an overall improvement in quality of life. 

Watch the incredible effect medical cannabis has on dad’s Tourette’s

The most common adverse effects were dry mouth, fatigue and sedation and dizziness. Just under half (40 per cent) participants also reported cognitive side effects, including altered time perception and confusion.

These findings are in line with a previous study conducted at the clinic, which retrospectively observed “a significant reduction in the number and intensity of tics”, as well as a “decrease in premonitory urges” in 83 per cent of a group of 42 patients.

Researchers have concluded that cannabis may be an effective and well-tolerated treatment for Tourette’s patients who have not responded to conventional medicines.

They state: “Our results are in line with a number of other studies suggesting that MC [medical cannabis] is effective and well-tolerated in adults with GTS [Gilles de la Tourette Syndrome].

From our data, it is suggested that MC might be a treatment option for resistant TS patients, and MC has a significant effect on tics, premonitory urges, and patients’ overall quality of life.”

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Sarah Sinclair is a respected cannabis journalist writing on subjects related to science, medicine, research, health and wellness. She is managing editor of Cannabis Health, the UK’s leading title covering medical cannabis and CBD, and sister title and Psychedelic Health. Sarah has an NCTJ journalism qualification and an MA in Journalism from the University of Sunderland. Sarah has over six years experience working on newspapers, magazines and digital-first titles, the last two of which have been in the cannabis sector. She has also completed training through the Medical Cannabis Clinicians Society securing a certificate in Medical Cannabis Explained. She is a member of PLEA’s (Patient-Led Engagement for Access) advisory board, has hosted several webinars on cannabis and women's health and has moderated at industry events such as Cannabis Europa. Sarah Sinclair is the editor of Cannabis Health. Got a story? Email sarah@prohibitionpartners.com / Follow us on Twitter: @CannabisHNews / Instagram: @cannabishealthmag

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