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  • by Nicola Boulton September 02, 2023 10 min read

    Discover the promising role of CBD in alleviating the symptoms of Tourette Syndrome. Explore its mechanisms, current research, and considerations for its use in this comprehensive 1000-word article.

    Tourette Syndrome (TS) is a neurological disorder characterized by repetitive, involuntary movements, and vocalizations known as tics. These tics can significantly impact a person's quality of life, affecting social interactions, self-esteem, and daily activities. While there is no cure for TS, various treatments aim to manage its symptoms. One emerging avenue of interest is the use of cannabidiol (CBD), a non-psychoactive compound derived from the cannabis plant, as a potential therapeutic option. In this article, we delve into the mechanisms behind CBD's effects on TS and explore the current state of research surrounding its use.

    Understanding Tourette Syndrome and Its Challenges

    Tourette Syndrome often emerges in childhood and is characterized by motor tics (involuntary physical movements) and vocal tics (involuntary vocalizations). These tics can range from simple to complex, with the severity varying widely among individuals. The challenges posed by TS extend beyond the physical symptoms, encompassing emotional and social aspects as well. Individuals with TS may face stigma, anxiety, and depression due to their condition, making effective treatment essential for improving their well-being.

    CBD and Its Potential Mechanisms

    Endocannabinoid System Modulation

    CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system (ECS), a complex network of receptors and neurotransmitters involved in maintaining homeostasis within the body. While CBD has a low affinity for the CB1 and CB2 receptors found in the ECS, it indirectly modulates the system's activity. CBD is believed to inhibit the enzymes responsible for breaking down endocannabinoids like anandamide, leading to increased levels of these molecules in the body. This modulation of the ECS could potentially influence various physiological processes, including motor control and mood regulation, both of which are relevant to Tourette Syndrome.

    Neurotransmitter Signaling

    CBD's effects on neurotransmitter signaling are another important aspect.  According to Campos et al (2012), affects various neurotransmitter systems, including dopamine, serotonin, and glutamate. These neurotransmitters play key roles in regulating mood, motor control, and other functions. By influencing the release, reuptake, and receptor binding of these neurotransmitters, CBD could impact the neural circuits underlying tic generation and expression in individuals with Tourette Syndrome.

    Anti-Inflammatory Effects

    Neuroinflammation has been implicated in the pathophysiology of several neurological disorders, including Tourette Syndrome. CBD has demonstrated anti-inflammatory properties through its interaction with immune cells and cytokine pathways. By reducing inflammation in the brain and nervous system, CBD may contribute to the alleviation of symptoms associated with neuroinflammation in individuals with TS.

    Modulation of GABA and Glutamate Systems

    The balance between inhibitory (GABAergic) and excitatory (glutamatergic) neurotransmission is crucial for proper brain function. Disruptions in this balance have been observed in various neuropsychiatric disorders. Brunt et al (2022) established that CBD can modulate GABA and glutamate signaling, potentially restoring the balance between these systems. This modulation could have implications for motor control and tic suppression in individuals with Tourette Syndrome.

    Anxiety and Stress Reduction

    Many individuals with Tourette Syndrome also experience anxiety and stress, which can exacerbate tic symptoms. CBD has been studied for its anxiolytic (anxiety-reducing) and stress-reducing effects. By acting on receptors involved in stress response and anxiety regulation, CBD might help individuals with TS manage these co-occurring symptoms, leading to an overall improvement in their well-being.

    Neural Plasticity and Neuroprotection

    CBD's potential to influence neural plasticity (the brain's ability to adapt and change) and provide neuroprotection (preserving the health of neurons) is another area of interest. By promoting neurogenesis (the formation of new neurons) and supporting overall brain health, CBD could contribute to the restoration of normal brain function in individuals with neurological disorders, including Tourette Syndrome.

    Suppression of Hyperactivity and Excitability

    According to Binder, M. R. (2023), CBD may have a calming effect on hyperactivity and neuronal excitability. In Tourette Syndrome, where tics are characterized by repetitive and involuntary movements, CBD's potential to reduce hyperactivity and dampen excitability could translate into a reduction in tic severity.

    Current Research and Findings

    The scientific exploration of CBD's effects on Tourette Syndrome is still in its early stages, but initial studies have yielded promising results. Some research suggests that CBD may help alleviate both motor and vocal tics, potentially offering relief to individuals with TS. A small study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry reported a significant reduction in tic severity and improved overall functioning in participants who received CBD treatment. However, it's important to note that the sample size of this study was limited, underscoring the need for larger, more rigorous trials.

    Considerations and Future Directions

    While the potential of CBD in managing Tourette Syndrome symptoms is intriguing, several considerations must be taken into account. The regulatory landscape surrounding CBD varies by region, and individuals considering its use should consult with a healthcare professional to ensure legality and appropriateness.

    Moreover, the optimal dosing of CBD for TS is not yet well-defined. Different dosages may have varying effects, and individual responses can also differ. Rigorous clinical trials are necessary to establish standardized dosing guidelines and to better understand potential side effects and interactions with other medications.

    Comparisons with Existing Treatments

    Comparing CBD with existing treatments for Tourette Syndrome (TS) provides valuable insights into the potential benefits and limitations of each approach. It's important to note that individual responses to treatments can vary, and what works well for one person may not work the same way for another. Here's a comparison of CBD with some of the existing treatments for TS:

    Behavioral Therapies

    Behavioral therapies, such as Habit Reversal Training (HRT) and Comprehensive Behavioral Intervention for Tics (CBIT), are common non-pharmacological approaches for managing TS symptoms. These therapies focus on increasing awareness of tics and teaching strategies to control or redirect them. They have shown efficacy in reducing tic severity and improving quality of life for many individuals with TS. Behavioral therapies can be particularly beneficial for individuals who prefer non-drug interventions or want to complement their treatment plan with strategies they can use in daily life.

    CBD vs. Behavioral Therapies


    While behavioral therapies address tics through cognitive and behavioral techniques, CBD's potential mechanisms involve modulation of the endocannabinoid system, neurotransmitter signaling, and anti-inflammatory effects.


    Behavioral therapies require active participation and practice, whereas CBD is ingested orally as a supplement.


    Behavioral therapies are tailored to each individual's specific tics and needs. CBD's effects can vary among individuals, and finding the right dosage and formulation may require some trial and error.


    Pharmacological interventions are commonly prescribed for TS when symptoms are severe or significantly impact daily functioning. Medications include antipsychotics, alpha agonists, and dopamine-modulating agents. These medications aim to reduce tic severity but may have side effects that need to be carefully managed.

    CBD vs. Medications

    Side Effects

    CBD is generally considered to have a more favorable side effect profile compared to some medications used for TS. Common side effects of medications may include weight gain, sedation, and potential long-term effects.


    Medications for TS often target specific neurotransmitter systems, whereas CBD's effects are more complex and involve modulation of the endocannabinoid system and other pathways.

    Individual Response

    Medication response can vary widely, and finding the right medication and dosage might involve trial and error. CBD's effects can also vary among individuals, and optimal dosing is an ongoing area of research.

    Supportive Therapies

    Supportive therapies, such as psychotherapy and counseling, can help individuals with TS manage associated challenges like anxiety, depression, and social difficulties. These therapies provide coping strategies and emotional support to enhance overall well-being.

    CBD vs. Supportive Therapies


    Supportive therapies primarily address emotional and psychological aspects, while CBD's potential effects encompass a range of physical and neurological factors.


    CBD can be used in conjunction with supportive therapies to potentially address both physiological and psychological aspects of TS.

    Alternative and Complementary Treatments

    Various alternative and complementary treatments are explored by individuals with TS, including dietary changes, acupuncture, yoga, and mindfulness practices. While the scientific evidence for some of these approaches is limited, some individuals find them beneficial.

    CBD vs. Alternative Treatments


    CBD has garnered more research attention in recent years, leading to a growing body of evidence about its potential effects on TS.

    Safety and Regulation

    Compared to some alternative treatments, CBD's safety profile and regulatory status may be more established, depending on local regulations.

    Safety and Side Effects

    Safety and potential side effects are important considerations when exploring the use of any treatment, including CBD, for Tourette Syndrome (TS). While CBD is generally considered to have a favorable safety profile, it's crucial to understand its possible effects on individuals, especially when used in conjunction with other treatments or medications. Here's an overview of CBD's safety and potential side effects in the context of TS:

    Safety Considerations

    Regulation and Quality

    The safety of CBD products can vary depending on factors such as the source of the CBD, the manufacturing process, and the presence of contaminants. It's important to choose high-quality CBD products from reputable manufacturers that provide third-party lab testing results.


    The optimal dose of CBD for TS is not yet well-established and can vary among individuals. Starting with a low dose and gradually increasing it while monitoring its effects can help minimize the risk of adverse reactions.

    Interactions with Medications

    CBD can potentially interact with other medications due to its influence on enzymes in the liver that metabolize drugs. It's crucial to consult a healthcare professional before using CBD, especially if you are already taking other medications. They can help assess potential interactions and adjust dosages accordingly.

    Individual Variation

    People may respond differently to CBD due to factors such as genetics, metabolism, and underlying health conditions. What works well for one person may not work the same way for another.

    Potential Side Effects

    Dry Mouth

    Dry mouth is a common side effect of CBD use. It can be managed by staying hydrated and drinking plenty of water.

    Drowsiness and Fatigue

    In some cases, CBD can cause drowsiness or feelings of tiredness. This effect may be more pronounced at higher doses. Individuals should avoid activities that require alertness, such as driving, if they experience these effects.

    Gastrointestinal Issues

    CBD can cause gastrointestinal discomfort in some individuals, including nausea or upset stomach. Taking CBD with food may help mitigate this side effect.

    Changes in Appetite

    CBD's influence on appetite can vary. While some people might experience an increase in appetite ("the munchies"), others might experience a decrease. These changes are usually mild and temporary.

    Interaction with Other Medications

    CBD has the potential to interact with certain medications, including blood thinners and medications metabolized by the liver. These interactions can affect the effectiveness and safety of both CBD and the other medication.

    Psychological Effects

    While CBD is non-psychoactive and does not produce a "high" like THC, in some cases, it can cause mild changes in mood, alertness, or perception. These effects are generally mild and well-tolerated.


    As research into CBD's effects on Tourette Syndrome progresses, it holds promise as a potential therapeutic avenue for individuals living with this challenging condition. While initial findings are encouraging, more comprehensive and well-controlled studies are needed to establish CBD's effectiveness, safety, and optimal dosing for TS management. For now, individuals considering CBD as a complementary treatment should engage in open conversations with their healthcare providers, weighing the potential benefits against the current limitations of scientific understanding. With continued research, CBD may offer newfound hope for enhancing the quality of life for those with Tourette Syndrome and their families.Top of Form


    Binder, M. R. (2023). Probing The Link Between Substance Use and Psychiatric Disorders: Toward A New Paradigm in the Treatment and Prevention of These Intertwined Disorders. Int J Psychiatr Res6(3), 1-13.

    Brunt, T. M., &Bossong, M. G. (2022). The neuropharmacology of cannabinoid receptor ligands in central signaling pathways. European Journal of Neuroscience55(4), 909-921.

    Campos, A. C., Moreira, F. A., Gomes, F. V., Del Bel, E. A., &Guimaraes, F. S. (2012). Multiple mechanisms involved in the large-spectrum therapeutic potential of cannabidiol in psychiatric disorders. Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society B: Biological Sciences367(1607), 3364-3378.

    Can CBD help manage Tourette syndrome symptoms?

    CBD has shown potential in some studies for managing symptoms of Tourette syndrome, such as tics and involuntary movements. However, more research is needed to fully understand its effectiveness and safety for this condition.

    How does CBD work for Tourette syndrome?

    CBD interacts with the endocannabinoid system, which plays a role in regulating functions such as mood, pain perception, and movement. It may help modulate neurotransmitter release and reduce tic severity in some individuals with Tourette syndrome.

    What dosage of CBD is typically used for Tourette syndrome?

    Dosage can vary widely depending on individual factors and product potency. It's advisable to start with a low dose (e.g., 10-20 mg per day) and gradually increase as needed while monitoring for effects.

    Are there any side effects of using CBD for Tourette syndrome?

    CBD is generally well-tolerated, but potential side effects may include fatigue, changes in appetite, or diarrhoea. It's essential to start with a low dose and adjust gradually to minimise the risk of adverse effects.

    Can CBD interact with medications used for Tourette syndrome?

    CBD may interact with certain medications, including those used to treat Tourette syndrome. It's crucial to consult with a healthcare provider before using CBD, especially if you are taking medications such as antipsychotics or dopamine antagonists.

    How long does it take for CBD to alleviate Tourette symptoms?

    The time it takes for CBD to alleviate symptoms of Tourette syndrome can vary among individuals. Some may experience relief within a few weeks of regular use, while others may require longer-term use to see significant effects.

    Should CBD be used as a standalone treatment for Tourette syndrome?

    CBD should not be used as a standalone treatment for Tourette syndrome without consulting a healthcare provider. It may be considered as part of a comprehensive treatment plan that includes behavioural therapies and other medications.

    Is CBD legal for treating Tourette syndrome?

    CBD legality varies by region. In the UK, CBD products derived from hemp containing less than 0.2% THC are legal, but regulations can differ. It's important to check local laws and regulations before purchasing or using CBD products.

    Can children with Tourette syndrome use CBD?

    CBD use in children with Tourette syndrome should be approached cautiously and under the guidance of a paediatrician or specialist. Research on CBD's effects and safety in children is limited, and individualised dosing and monitoring are crucial.

    How should I choose a CBD product for Tourette syndrome?

    When choosing a CBD product for Tourette syndrome, opt for reputable brands that provide third-party lab testing results to verify potency and purity. Consider factors like CBD concentration, type of extract (full-spectrum, broad-spectrum, or isolate), and method of consumption (e.g., oils, capsules).

    Nicola Boulton
    Nicola Boulton

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