A cannabis worker holds up a handful of commercial-grade, trimmed cannabis nugs.

Sarah Climaco

Study Finds Cannabis Safe and Effective Treatment for Tourette Syndrome

A study published in The Journal of Neuropsychiatry and Clinical Neurosciences reports that cannabis therapies are both effective and well-tolerated for Tourette syndrome patients. The University of Toronto researchers found that in 18 of the 19 study participants who had used cannabis regularly for at least two years, their symptoms were “much improved” and tic scores decreased by 60 percent.

Elia Abi-Jaoude, one of the study’s corresponding authors, said that the topic was brought to the researchers’ attention by the patients.

“Several of my patients with Tourette syndrome had noticed that if they used some marijuana, their tics decreased significantly,” he said in a PsyPost report, noting that some side effects included sleepiness, anxiety, and decreased concentration. “We began prescribing medical cannabis at our clinic and were struck by the improvements we saw in tics and related symptoms. We eventually decided that we should investigate this topic further.”

Abi-Jaoude cautioned that the study did have some caveats – it was a relatively small study with no placebo control, and there were variabilities in the cannabis strains used by the patients which prevented the researchers from making “reliable conclusions about which cannabis strains or ingredients are most helpful for tics and related symptoms.”

“This was a retrospective study, so there may be a ‘recall bias’ when people try to compare how they are doing now to how they were doing before starting cannabis,” he said.

Abi-Jaoude said that he plans on carrying out a controlled, double-blind study with different strains, but he believes that cannabis “is a promising treatment for tics and related symptoms.”

“We hope that with further research we can get a clearer picture of the potential benefits and risks with using cannabis for tics and related symptoms,” he said.

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