Tourette syndrome – Causes, Symptoms, and Treatments

Tourette’s syndrome.

Tourette’s syndrome is a disorder that causes uncontrollable movements and vocal sounds called tics. It often shows up in early childhood and improves in adulthood. Tics can be mild or severe. About 200,000 people in the U.S. have a severe form of Tourette syndrome.

In the article, you will learn about Tourette syndrome, its causes, its symptoms, and finally, how to treat it traditionally and naturally.

Tourette syndrome facts

A tic is an unexpected, repetitive, non-rhythmic mechanical movement or phonation involving distinct muscle groups. Tics such as abdominal tension or crunching toes may be invisible to the viewer. Typical motor and phonic tics are blinking the eyes and clearing the throat.

It was named by Georges Gilles de la Tourette, who first described the disorder in 1885. The English author Samuel Johnson may have suffered from a form of the disorder, based on contemporary descriptions of his facial tics and of the strange vocalizations interrupting his usual speech.

The onset of Tourette syndrome usually occurs between the ages of 2 and 15 and continues into adulthood. Motor tics precede phonic tics in about 80 percent of the cases. Individuals with milder forms of the disorder may exhibit either motor or phonic tics, but not both.

Tourette syndrome (TS) is a neurological disorder that affects the brain and nerves. TS causes a person to make sudden movements or sounds called “tics.” Tics are involuntary, so you can’t control or prevent them. Motor tics involve body movements, like shoulder shrugging, and vocal tics involve the voice, like throat clearing. Motor tics tend to develop before vocal tics.

Tourette syndrome, or Tourette’s, usually develops in early childhood. It often improves as you become an adult. Tourette syndrome is the most severe type of tic disorder.

What is Tourette's syndrome

Causes of tics syndrome

The exact causes of Tourette’s syndrome are unknown. Still, it appears to stem from a problem in the basal ganglia, the part of the brain responsible for involuntary movements, emotion, and learning.

Experts believe that abnormalities in the basal ganglia may be one cause of Tourette’s syndrome. An imbalance in the levels of brain neurotransmitters, which transmit messages from one cell to another, causes Tourette’s syndrome. Abnormal neurotransmitter levels may disrupt normal brain function, resulting in tics. Parkinson’s, Huntington’s, and other neurologic conditions affect the basal ganglia.

Another Tourette’s syndrome cause is hereditary. A person with a close family member and a tic is likely to have one, too. It also appears to be more common in infants who are born preterm.

Genetics of Tourette syndrome

Another theory is that a childhood illness may trigger tics. Infection with group A streptococcal bacteria has been linked with symptoms of Tourette’s. The bacteria may cause the immune system to produce antibodies that interact with brain tissue, causing changes in the brain.

Tourette syndrome symptoms

Tics are the main Tourette syndrome symptom. They usually start between ages five and seven and peak around age 12.

Tics are complex or straightforward:

  • Complex tics involve many movements and muscle groups. Jumping is a complex motor tic. Repeating certain words or phrases is a complex vocal tic.
  • Simple tics are quick, repeated movements involving only a few muscle groups. Shoulder shrugging is a simple motor tic, and sniffing is a simple vocal tic.

Tourette syndrome symptoms

Other Tourette syndrome signs are:

  • Arm jerking.
  • Bending at the waist.
  • Eye blinking.
  • Head jerking or twisting.
  • Jaw movements.
  • Twisted or distorted facial expressions.

Tourette’s syndrome treatment

The treatment for Tourette’s syndrome depends on the severity of the symptoms and the initial cause of the syndrome. Mild tics that don’t affect everyday activities might not need treatment. However, severe tics can make functioning at work, school, or social situations hard. Some tics even lead to self-injury. Medication, herbs, acupuncture, and behavioral therapy may help in these cases.

Tourette syndrome medication—the most common form of Tourette’s syndrome treatment

There is no cure for Tourette syndrome, though symptoms may improve with age. Tourette syndrome medications are used only when symptoms interfere with functioning. Tourette syndrome medication may include antihypertensives, muscle relaxants, or neuroleptics.

Antihypertensives are medications for tics usually used to control high blood pressure or hypertension. Still, they may help patients with mild to moderate symptoms of Tourette’s, possibly by regulating neurotransmitter levels. One example is Clonidine. Side effects include diarrhea or constipation, dry mouth, headaches, dizziness, and fatigue.

Muscle relaxants help control physical tics by treating spasticity when muscles become too stiff. Examples include baclofen and clonazepam. Side effects include drowsiness and dizziness. Patients taking muscle relaxants should not consume alcohol, and they may not be able to drive or use heavy machinery.

Neuroleptics are another class of tic medications that block the effects of dopamine in the brain. They may be taken orally or by injection and can treat moderate-to-severe symptoms. Some slow-release neuroleptics are injected only once every 2 to 6 weeks.

Adverse effects may include drowsiness, blurred vision, dry mouth, low libido, shaking, spasms, twitches, and weight gain. Some neuroleptics have more adverse effects than others. If side effects become a problem, patients should tell their doctor. There may be other neuroleptics they could take.

Behavioral therapy for Tourette syndrome—standard Tourette’s syndrome treatment

The tics associated with Tourette syndrome are involuntary, so they aren’t something you can control. However, new therapies help people manage tics and reduce their adverse effects.

Comprehensive Behavioral Intervention for Tics (CBIT) helps people:

  • Respond to tics: Doing a new and different action when a tic occurs is a “competing response.” A voluntary action (shutting your eyes) limits an involuntary action (blinking).
  • Recognize tics: Sometimes, people feel a sensation right before a tic occurs, called a premonitory urge. By recognizing this urge, they may be able to mask or suppress the tic.
  • Reduce tics: Excitement or anxiety tends to make tics worse. Staying calm and avoiding stressful situations may reduce the frequency of tics.

Acupuncture for Tourette’s Syndrome: An Ancient Chinese Tourette’s Syndrome Treatment

Acupuncture is a branch of traditional Chinese medicine that dates back thousands of years. It is defined as fine needles piercing into the acupoints based on traditional Chinese medicine theory.

In a small study, Chinese researchers found acupuncture to have an effective rate of 97.1% in treating Tourette’s syndrome. They concluded that acupuncture is a “very effective therapy for TS.” While parents and children alike may hesitate to try acupuncture, it is a safe procedure that is proven to help with insomnia, pain, stress, and now Tourette’s.

Acupuncture for tics

It has been reported that acupuncture for Tourette’s syndrome can regulate the abnormal brain function of patients with tic disorders and can alleviate tic symptoms.

Acupuncture for Tourette’s syndrome has a long and successful history in the treatment of the tics, uncontrolled movements, and vocal disturbances of Tourette syndrome.

Homeopathic Treatment for Tourette’s Syndrome

Explore the potential of homeopathic treatment for Tourette’s Syndrome. Learn how it offers a soft, natural remedy. These alternative treatments are customized to meet individual requirements.

Key Takeaways:

  • Homeopathy offers a natural and alternative approach to treating Tourette’s syndrome.
  • Homeopathic remedies are tailored to individual symptoms, providing personalized treatment.
  • These remedies address the underlying imbalance causing the tics and provide relief.
  • Homeopathy should be used as a complementary approach to conventional medical care.
  • By integrating homeopathic treatment, individuals with Tourette’s Syndrome can improve their quality of life.

Homeopathic Remedies for Tourette’s Syndrome

Individuals with Tourette’s syndrome have various homeopathic treatments available for symptom relief. These options focus on personalizing treatment based on specific symptoms and triggers. Homeopathic remedies target the root imbalances that cause tics, aiming for gentle and effective relief.

Though homeopathy is an adjunct to conventional care, it can significantly enhance the quality of life for those with Tourette’s syndrome. Its holistic and tailored approach stands out, making it a viable alternative for natural symptom management.

For those with Tourette’s syndrome, exploring homeopathic treatments offers a path to complementary care. This approach is centered around gentle remedies and customized treatment plans. Homeopathy is an optimistic option for individuals seeking natural symptom relief.

1. Agaricus Muscaris: For Motor Tics Associated with Tourette’s Syndrome

The primary symptoms of Agaricus, a leading treatment for motor tics, are trembling and twitching. It is applied when a person has noticeable motor tics, such as jerking of the head, legs, eyes, or face. Usually, the twitching ceases when you go to sleep. The lips and the area around the lower jaw are trembling. Hand twitching improves when performing manual labor. The child frequently moves their upper limbs quickly and hurriedly. Legs may twitch in unexpected ways. It is a homeopathic remedy that is suggested to treat twitching in children who are clumsy and energetic but do not fear harm.
Key signs that Agaricus Muscaris should be used in cases with Tourette’s syndrome include:

  • twitching and erratic motion
  • shaking of the lower jaw
  • Overzealousness and incomplete

2. Stramonium: For vocal tics associated with Tourette’s syndrome

A medication called stramonium treats persistent vocal tics in children with a constant tendency to talk. Some symptoms that point to the necessity for this medication include spasmodic dysphonia, or hoarse voice, stammering, and irrelevant and continuous speech. This medication also affects the muscles involved in movement and vocal tics. Hand twitches, hand clapping overhead, hand shutting, and hand opening are examples of motor tics that also point to the necessity for this medication.
Crucial signs that call for the use of stramonium are:

  • Recurring vocal tics, such as babble
  • Vocal hoarseness
  • Hand gestures that suggest motor tics

3. For tics related to Tourette’s syndrome, Hyoscyamus Niger

A medication called Hyoscyamus Niger is utilized when tics manifest as caressing, rubbing genitalia, making inappropriate motions, or making grimaces on the face. Though competent to think, the child struggles to answer questions appropriately. The primary symptoms that point to the necessity for this medication are:

  • Muttering ridiculous things and being persistent,
  • incoherent babbling coupled with a desire to be undressed.
  • Additionally, the child might laugh frequently and irrelevantly.
  • The main signs of Tourette’s syndrome that Hyoscyamus Niger should be used for include grimacing.
  • Incoherent chattering and nakedness.

4. Zincum Metallicum: For Fidgety Tourette’s Syndrome

One medication that is very important for muscle control and coordination is zinc metallicum. The signs that point to the necessity for this medication include:

  • Shaky hands when writing,
  • Jerking of the body,
  • Restlessness in the legs and
  • Frequent foot movement.

Additionally, zinc is used to cure echolalia, a condition in which a child repeats everything that is said to him. It is also utilized to treat spasmodic facial twitches, head rolling, and teeth grinding. Vital signs that Zincum Metallicum should be used in Tourette’s
Teeth Grinding and Fidgeting Eclalia.

5. Argentum Nitricum: For Anxiety-Related Tics

Argentum is a medication used to treat tics that are usually worse in anxious people. The medication reduces children’s anxiety and uneasiness and also helps when certain body parts tremble, and there is a loss of voluntary muscular control. The symptoms include shaky hands that make writing difficult, quivering legs and balance problems, unsteady walking when unobserved, and impulsiveness in kids. There can also be an overwhelming craving for sweets.
Essential indications for Argentum Nitricum use in cases of Tourette’s syndrome:

  • Anxiety makes tics worse
  • Shaking in the hands and legs
  • A need for sweets

Herbs that help with Tourette syndrome: effective home-based tics treatment

Herbs that help with TS:

  • Chamomile,
  • Hops,
  • Skullcap,
  • Wood betony, or Valerian.

are free of side effects, provide vitamins and minerals, and relax muscles and nerves.

Herbs that help with Tourette syndrome can be taken as teas by adding one teaspoon of the herb to a cup of boiling water and steeping in a covered glass or ceramic pot for 15 minutes.

TS hypnosis is the #1 natural Tourette’s syndrome treatment

T’s hypnosis is a behavioral approach that involves patients being able to identify the premonitory urge before a tic occurs. TS hypnosis teaches patients how to control and prevent the tic from happening in the first place. It is more beneficial because patients are taught how to remove the tics. It treats the underlying cause rather than the symptoms.

Clinical Hypnosis and Hypnotherapy

Listed below are the effects of hypnosis on tics

  • Have fewer and less severe symptoms of tic
  • Experience a growing sense of self-command
  • Feel less defined by your condition
  • Are more relaxed and at ease in general
  • Become more naturally skilled at using self-hypnosis to control your tics.

Whole-body relaxation for tics

A study published in the Journal of Affective Disorders found that body-mind relaxation meditations can help modulate brain activity in multiple areas where emotion processing is found.

Note: Tic syndrome is challenging for the family and the child diagnosed. The severity and frequency of symptoms are likely to depend on significant behavioral and social challenges.

Children and teens with Tourette’s syndrome often suffer from poor self-image, loneliness, and isolation. Also, with so many co-occurring severe disorders, including ADHD, OCD, depression, anxiety, anger, and autism-spectrum disorders, effective treatment must focus on overall wellness and support.

Conclusion about tics

People with tics cannot control their physical and verbal activities. A tic disorder is a neurodevelopmental condition that does not have a cure, but treatments are available to ease the symptoms and co-occurring disorders. Genetics, environment, and allergens may all play a role in Tourette syndrome.

Depression, loneliness, and poor self-esteem are common.

Many of the prescription medications commonly prescribed have frightening side effects, particularly for young children and teens.

Natural treatments can help with tic severity and the symptoms of co-occurring disorders.

If you are looking for a natural Tourette’s syndrome treatment, holistic medicine is your best choice.

To book an appointment for a comprehensive, holistic evaluation and discuss your best treatment options with Victor Tsan, MD, contact our clinic at (267) 403-3085 or use our online scheduling application.