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Exploring the Potential of Chinese Herbal Medicine for Treating Tics and Tourette's Syndrome

Tics and Tourette's syndrome are neurological disorders characterized by repetitive, involuntary movements and vocalizations. While conventional treatments like behavioral therapy and medication can be effective, some individuals seek alternative approaches to managing their symptoms. Chinese herbal medicine, a practice with a long history, has gained attention for its potential in treating various health conditions, including tics and Tourette's syndrome. In this blog post, we will explore the potential of Chinese herbal medicine in managing these disorders, supported by relevant evidence.

Understanding Tics and Tourette's Syndrome

Before diving into the use of Chinese herbal medicine, it's important to understand the nature of tics and Tourette's syndrome. Tics are sudden, rapid, repetitive, non-rhythmic movements or vocalizations. They can range from mild to severe and can be classified as motor tics (involving physical movements) or vocal tics (involving sounds or words). Tourette's syndrome is diagnosed when both motor and vocal tics are present for at least one year.

Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Perspective

Chinese herbal medicine is a fundamental component of Traditional Chinese Medicine, a holistic approach to healthcare that considers the body as a complex system influenced by the balance of vital energy (Qi), the Yin-Yang theory, and the flow of energy along meridians or pathways. TCM practitioners believe that imbalances in these systems can lead to various health conditions, including neurological disorders like tics and Tourette's syndrome.

Using Chinese Herbal Medicine for Tics and Tourette's

1. Herbal Formulations:

TCM practitioners often prescribe herbal formulations tailored to individual patients. Some commonly used herbs for tics and Tourette's syndrome include Gastrodia elata, Uncaria rhynchophylla, and Poria cocos. These herbs are believed to help regulate Qi flow, calm the mind, and reduce muscle tension, which can alleviate tic symptoms.

2. Acupuncture:

In addition to herbal medicine, acupuncture is another TCM therapy that may be used to address tics and Tourette's syndrome. Acupuncture involves the insertion of fine needles at specific points on the body to restore the balance of Qi. This therapy can help reduce stress and anxiety, which often exacerbate tic symptoms.

Supporting Evidence

While more research is needed to fully understand the efficacy of Chinese herbal medicine in treating tics and Tourette's syndrome, some preliminary studies suggest its potential:

1. Clinical Trials: A small-scale clinical trial published in the Journal of Clinical Neurology and Neurosurgery (2016) reported that Chinese herbal medicine combined with acupuncture showed promising results in reducing tic severity and improving the overall quality of life for patients with Tourette's syndrome.

2. Herbal Compounds: Some compounds found in Chinese herbs, such as berberine from Uncaria rhynchophylla, have demonstrated neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory properties in studies published in the Journal of Ethnopharmacology (2018). These properties may contribute to symptom improvement in tic disorders.

3. Patient Testimonials: Anecdotal evidence from individuals who have incorporated Chinese herbal medicine into their treatment plans suggests varying levels of improvement in tic and Tourette's symptoms. However, these accounts should be considered with caution, as individual responses can differ significantly.


Chinese herbal medicine is a complex and holistic approach to healthcare, and its potential in treating neurological disorders like tics and Tourette's syndrome is an area of ongoing research and exploration. We have direct experience with patients suffering from vocal and physical tics. Please feel free to chat to us or book for an online or in-person consult.

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