Can marijuana be used to treat Tourette Syndrome? This question is asked more often than you might think. It may come from a parent whose teen claims to be self-medicating. Or perhaps it comes from an adult with TS who has heard claims that smoking up can help.
The use of marijuana for medical treatment is a complex and controversial subject. In case of TS, there is currently no strong evidence that marijuana is an effective Tourette treatment, says the American Medical Association on Tuesday. Their recent meta-analysis sifted through 28 databases to find a total of 79 trials that tested the benefits and negatives of using marijuana to treat a number of conditions including Tourette. The authors concluded that there is moderate quality evidence that medical marijuana helps with chronic pain and with muscle stiffness in multiple sclerosis. Evidence of positive effects was weak for sleep disorders, nausea due to chemotherapy, weight gain due to HIV, and Tourette Syndrome.
A 2013 study published in Behavioral Neurology examined two studies on this subject. Both studies found significant tic reduction after treatment with medical marijuana compared with a placebo, with no significant negative effects. The authors concluded however, “definite conclusion cannot be drawn, because longer trials including a large number of patients are missing”.
In 2010, TS experts Drs. King and Leckman told the New York Times that some individuals with TS say that regular marijuana use calms their tics. They also explained that while some investigators are convinced that it is a good treatment, others remain skeptical. Finally, the doctors pointed out that regular use of marijuana could have side effects like apathy, depression or even psychosis (in vulnerable individuals). They caution, “we certainly wouldn’t recommend it for adolescents”.
What do you think about the use of medical marijuana for tics? Tell us down below.
A New Use for Medical Marijuana? March 30 2010: The New York Time: available online: http://consults.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/03/31/a-new-use-for-medical-marijuana/
Muller-Vahl KR. “Treatment of Tourette Syndrome with cannabinoids” Behavioral Neurology 2014 27 (1) 119-24 available online: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23187140
Whiting, P. et al. “Cannabinoids for Medical Use” The Journal of the America Medical Association June 23/30 2015. Available online: http://jama.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=2338251