Named after French neurologist Georges Albert Gilles de la Tourette, Tourette syndrome describes a neurological disorder that affects the brain and nerves of young children. The condition
Tourette syndrome can be seen in 3-9/1000 children, with the first episode occurring between four to six years of age. However, most children diagnosed with the condition will likely have remission by the time they turn 21.
Here are the causes of Tourette syndrome and ways to manage symptomatic flare-ups efficiently.
What Makes Tics, Tick?
The exact reasons behind Tourette syndrome are yet to be clinically ascertained. However, there are several factors associated with the condition. Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) states that it possibly relates to
Chronic cases of Tourette syndrome stem from Spleen Qi (vital life force) and Kidney and Liver Yin (
It’s a gender thing
Boys are three to four times more likely than girls to develop Tourette syndrome. It will usually last for weeks or months.
Examples of simple motor tics are spontaneous eye blinking, eyebrow raising, shoulder shrugging, and turning or jerking of the head. Meanwhile, simple vocal tics include coughing, sniffing, yawning, and clearing the throat.
Like parents, like children
Genetics studies show there is a 50% risk of parents passing down Tourette syndrome to their children if they have been diagnosed with the condition. Separately, a child may be more susceptible if:
- They have an infection
- They had a low birthweight
- A woman smokes during her pregnancy
- A woman experiences complications during childbirth
5 Ways to Prevent and Manage Tourette Syndrome
Tics that happen before a child turns 18 often indicate Tourette syndrome. The signs of tics should show for over a year in order for a doctor to make the diagnosis. For a correct diagnosis, a child may undergo a targeted neurological examination.
TCM advises that it is best to
Clinical interventions can be beneficial for elevating a child’s self-esteem and relieving depressive feelings. These evidence-based treatment options are habit reversal training, exposure and response prevention, and comprehensive
Habit reversal training involves awareness training, self-monitoring, social support and the use of a competing response. Exposure and response prevention is a type of cognitive behavioural therapy that encourages children to confront and not avoid their fears. Comprehensive behavioural interventions teach children to be aware of their tics and strategies to help reduce them.
A healthcare provider may consider prescribing pharmaceuticals for Tourette syndrome if a person is having:
- Psychological disorders like depression
- Subjective discomfort due to pain or injury
- Permanent social problems, such as isolation and being vulnerable to bullying
- Functional interference like impairment of a child’s ability to perform academically
The most effective medications are antipsychotics like haloperidol, pimozide, and risperidone. However,
Placing fingers or a blunt object on different acupressure points, coupled with a 3-minute application of a selective amount of pressure, can also help. The acupoints are:
- Tai xi (KI3,
太溪), which regenerates yin to nourish the Liver and Kidneys
- Shen men (HT7,
神门), which improves cognition and mood by strengthening blood and qi circulation to the head
- Zhong wan (RN12, 中脘), which improves cognition and mood by promoting better blood and qi circulation through dispelling of phlegm
- Dan zhong (RN17, 膻中), which improves cognition and mood by promoting better blood and qi circulation through dispelling of phlegm and Fire
- San yin jiao (SP6,
三阴交), yin ling quan (SP9, 阴陵泉), and zu san li (ST36, 足三里), which improve cognition and mood by strengthening the Spleen and promoting better blood and qi circulation through dispelling of phlegm
- He gu (LI4, 合谷), which reduces the frequency of spasms and tics by dispelling phlegm, Wind, and Fire
- Tai chong (LR3, 太沖), which reduces spasms and tics through dispelling of Liver Wind and Fire and regeneration of blood and yin to calm and nourish the
muscles and sinews
- Bai hui (DU20,
百会) and feng chi (GB20, 风池), which improve cognition and mood by promoting better blood and qi circulation through dispelling of phlegm, Wind and Fire in the orifices of the head
Physician Yew cautions, “Acupressure only provides mild symptomatic relief for Tourette syndrome.
- Shen jie san (神解散), which dispels phlegm, Liver Wind, and Fire
- Ling jiao gou teng tang (羚角钩藤汤) can also have the same effect and replenishes yin to nourish and calm the organ system
- Long dan xie gan tang (龙胆泻肝汤), which clears Liver Fire and replenishes yin to nourish and calm the organ system
- Shi wei wen dan tang (十味温胆汤), which
replenishes and strengthens Spleen qi to resolve phlegm, and yin to nourish and calm the Liver
- Zhen gan xi feng tang (镇肝熄风汤), which dispels Wind and Fire and replenishes yin to calm the Liver and nourish the Kidneys
Avoid self medication
Physician Yew reminds, “Keep in mind that
Diagnosing Tourette syndrome and taking steps to manage the condition early can help children have a close-to-normal life. Speak to
- National Library of Medicine. 2018. Tourette Syndrome: A Mini-Review. [online] [Accessed 23 May 2022]
- Cleveland Clinic. Tourette Syndrome. [online] [Accessed 23 May 2022]
- International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society. Tics and Tourette Syndrome: Essential Facts for Patients. [online] [Accessed 23 May 2022]
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Risk Factors and Causes for Tourette Syndrome. [online] [Accessed 23 May 2022]