Tourette syndrome – This rare disorder of movement was named for the French neurologist Gilles de la Tourette, who first described this disorder in 1885. A tic disorder characterized by the presence of chronic vocal and motor tics, it is likely based on differences in or damage to the basal ganglia of the brain.
Tourette syndrome usually emerges between the ages of 6 and 18 and is somewhat more common in people with ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder), obsessive-compulsive disorder, or an autistic spectrum disorder than in the general population. Tics may be minor and trifling or be major and debilitating. Infections, particularly those with streptococcus, can sometimes initiate or exacerbate Tourette syndrome. Emotional distress and stress also appear to influence the frequency of tics. People with this disorder tend to have an impulsive, quick, and frequently humorous disposition. Some, particularly those with co-morbid health-issues, experience episodes of rage that are difficult to control.
The diagnosis of Tourette syndrome is by clinical observation. There is no laboratory test for the disorder.
What are the Symptoms of Tourette Syndrome?
Repetitive tics usually of head and neck- sometimes of arms, legs and trunk. Involuntary noises develop as the disease progresses. One of the characteristics of TS is a waxing and waning of symptoms. Tics can be worse on one day and may disappear for weeks, or months. The goal is to prolong the symptomless time. The tics and noises are symptoms of changes in the body.
Finding triggers for TS is very complex. It is sometimes difficult to separate one potential cause from another. Some possibilities:
- Environmental stimuli. The TS sufferer’s nervous system is hypersensitive or hyper-excitable.
- Allergic reactions. The intensity and type of symptoms can be determined by the type of trigger. Certain foods might be the culprit for some TS sufferers- mainly dairy, artificial colors, preservatives and common allergy-inducing foods. MSG and aspartame are common offenders. It might not always be the actual food but certain ingredients. The TS sufferer might tolerate home-made ice cream but not commercial one. There is a percentage of those with TS who experience at least one food exposure that bothers them.
- Stress and thought process. Stress, anxiety, excitement and fatigue can trigger or aggravate the symptoms.
- Environmental toxins in air and water. What we breathe, drink, smell, touch or come otherwise in contact with can have an influence on the frequency and severity of the symptoms. Drink filtered water (not bottled in plastic), and keep an air purifier in the house.
Diet and Lifestyle
People with Tourette Syndrome benefit from a diet low in carbohydrates with an emphasis on protein and healthy fats. Keeping blood sugar level is crucial to minimize tics, so small meals every 3-4 hours is the most beneficial. In the best case scenario, grains should be eliminated with vegetables and fruits being the source of carbohydrates. Due to many environmental sensitivies, people with Tourettes should aim to consume organic when possible.
Home should be toxins free to reduce the level of sensitivity to the environment. Record keeping can help in finding the culprits. One has to keep good records for about two months to see if one can find a connection between the symptoms and aggravating factors. We want to be sure we eliminate any possible offenders.
One should make notes on the occurrence or state of tics at regular times during the day In addition one has to ask the following questions: Was there a new shampoo? Was the lawn in the park sprayed? Was the carpet cleaned? What snacks were offered after the baseball game? What was the weather like? This is a win – win situation, since a healthier lifestyle and a controlled environment are best for overall health.
Tourette Syndrome could be a result of too much glutamate being produced in the body, as outlined here. The disorder is commonly associated with a variety of comorbidities including obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), school problems, anxiety, and depression. If this is the case, supporting GABA and potential deficiencies for the calming neurotransmitters should be the focus.
Vitamin A, D and omega-3’s play a major role in helping modulate the neurotransmitters.
Magnesium deficiency shows up as a muscle twitch and spasm.
B-vitamins are best taken as a complex for optimal balance and absorption. B12, folate and B6 in particular are important for calming the body
Vitamin C helps modulate dopamine and norepinephrine, calming the body from stress.
Zinc is very important for healthy GABA levels.