Tourette Syndrome Medical Cannabis Trial For Australia

Tourette Sydrome - potential cannabis treatment
Image: jarmoluk

A trial to examine the efficacy of medicinal cannabis in treating Tourette Syndrome will occur in Australia this year, using a product containing a mix of cannabidiol (CBD) and tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).

Tourette Syndrome (TS) is a neurological, not psychiatric, disorder usually appearing early in life and continues throughout the remainder of the lives of those affected; however it is not a degenerative condition. The impacts of TS can be profound, depending on the number and severity of symptoms.

According to the Tourette Syndrome Association of Australia  (TSAA), the condition is characterised by rapid, repetitive and involuntary muscle movements and/or vocalisations that may be just random sounds, tongue clicking or words/phrases; some of which may inappropriate.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) and Attention Deficit and/or Hyperactivity Disorder (ADD/ADHD) may also present with condition.

Tourette Syndrome may affect as many as 1 in 200 people, so while relatively uncommon, that would translate to more than 120,000 sufferers in Australia alone.

While costly (and risky) surgery or medication can assist with management of TS, there is no cure as yet. Conventional medicines, often anti-psychotics, can be a hit or miss affair and may be accompanied by severe side-effects.

However, there is perhaps some potential for medical cannabis to be of use in treating TS, by targeting the human body’s endocannabinoid system. Studies have indicated cannabis increases dopamine in the brain in an indirect way – and it’s thought Tourette Syndrome may be linked to the abnormal metabolism of dopamine.

The Courier Mail reports Wesley Medical Research Institute neuropsychiatrist Dr. Philip Mosley will trial  a medicinal cannabis product in 24 adults with severe TS later this year. According to Dr. Mosley, the exercise will be the first Australasian, investigator-led, randomised, placebo-controlled, double-blind trial of medical cannabis for TS.

While Dr. Mosley believes patients could benefit from THC, a psychoactive cannabinoid, only, CBD is being included to hopefully reduce any potential side effects.

Tourette Syndrome is already a qualifying condition for medical cannabis in some U.S. states, but much of the evidence to date in its efficacy is anecdotal.

Wesley Medical Research Ltd is a not-for-profit medical research organisation located in the grounds of The Wesley Hospital in Brisbane, Queensland.