Loic was misunderstood most of his childhood.
He was what most people called a ‘problem child’. He was defiant to just about everyone.
He always felt annoyed if not angry and he was constantly in trouble with school.
When he was 8, he was diagnosed with ODD and ADHD and his parents did the best they could to manage it with medication and parenting strategies.
Mom felt like a failure as a parent.
She constantly wondered what she did wrong and how her son would function as an adult when he had such a hard time focusing, learning and getting along with friends, family members and other teachers
Instead of getting better, it seemed things only got worse.
Just as his parents would become discouraged and feel hopeless, Loic’s symptoms would wane and sometimes even disappear – and so they would think he had grown out of it.
At first they thought he had unique little mannerisms but by age 12, Loic was diagnosed with OCD and Tourette’s syndrome. .
What is Tourette’s?
Tourette’s Syndrome is involuntary and repeated movement and vocalizations.
While OCD involves intrusive thoughts and compulsive behaviours.
86% of kids with Tourette’s have other diagnosis like OCD, ADHD, ODD and LD’s
⅓ of kids with Tourette’s have OCD (some argue Tourette’s is a motor form of OCD)
Simple to Complex Tics and Why It Can Be Easy to Miss At First
When most people think of Tourette’s they often think of coprolalia (involuntary swearing) though this is more rare than simple and complex motor tics.
Kids can have simple tics which is often the case when the disorder first starts.
It’s easy to overlook blinking, shoulder shrugs, sniffling and clearing one’s throat as normal quirks..
But similar to Loic’s case, tics can progress into the complex which involve several muscle groups and more than one tic. Things like shrugging one’s shoulder while clearing their throat is an example.
Tourette’s and Rage
Other times kids may have ‘rage attacks’ that may involve hurting others but even more commonly themselves.
Tourette’s is often accompanied with ODD or anger issues which is related to inflammation in the brain and an overtaxed nervous system.
While many think Tourette’s is rare – it is not. It is 3-4 times more likely to happen in boys than girls.
Examples of Tics are:
- Eye blinking, darting or squinting
- Lip twitching or licking
- Raising eyebrows
- Compulsive touching, smelling
- Shoulder shrugs
- Grunting, sniffling, coughing, throat clearing
- Head jerking
- Walking/Skipping in a pattern
- Echolalia (repeating a word multiple times), Swearing
- Twitching or bending or any other repetitive movements
Why Symptoms Wax and Wane
Like OCD, Tics and Tourette’s notoriously waxes and wanes to the point where it can appear the disorder has resolved only for it to come back even worse.
While some will say there is no known cause to Tourette’s or OCD or why the flares wax and wane, research in the field of functional neurology has identified various factors that cause and exacerbate this disorder.
These flares tend to happen from various triggers outlined below that essentially cause an increase in brain inflammation as a result of immune dysregulation.
As the trigger disappears or the body is able to eventually bring down the inflammation, the symptoms then wane until the next exposure to a trigger.
Keep in mind there is often more than one trigger and Tics and Tourette’s is often related to these various factors that come into play that dysregulate the immune system and drive up brain inflammation.
The Bio-Chemical Causes and Triggers:
- Food sensitivities
- Toxins like heavy metals or pesticides and even food colouring
- High histamine levels which may be connected to mould exposure, allergies as well as poor gut health
- Most commonly – PANDAS/PANS which involves the dysregulation of the immune system which when triggered by certain pathogens like strep, lyme, a virus, mould etc can trigger another ‘flare’.
Tourette’s and OCD can often worsen over time and both OCD rituals and tics become more elaborate with each subsequent flare as brain inflammation increases.
Tourette’s, OCD, PANS/PANDAS and Left Brain Over-Development
Another factor that is often overlooked is left brain over-development.
The left brain is the ‘gas’ to the immune system while the right brain is the ‘brakes’. When there is too much ‘gas’, the brain has difficulty over-riding motor and vocal compulsions as seen in Tourette’s as well as obsessive thoughts and behaviours.
Add to that, the left brain is the ‘gas’ for the immune system.
This can cause hyper-immunity in kids or cause the immune system to become hyperactive and over-react to environmental exposures whether it be food proteins like gluten or dairy or pathogens like strep, mould, viruses etc.
Overcoming Tourette’s and OCD
I absolutely know your child can overcome challenges related to Tourette’s and OCD because I’ve seen it first hand with my own daughter.
Tourette’s and OCD is much more complex than addressing ADHD or removing certain foods.
It requires what I call a multi-therapy approach that focuses on 3 factors:
- Eliminate/reduce triggers
- Reduce the inflammation to improve symptoms and prevent any further injury to the brain (and the brain can heal injured tissue!)
- Regulate the Immune System via detoxification, gut healing and address left brain over-development and right brain weakness via brain hemisphere stimulations.
First Line of Action – This is the relatively simple and straightforward measures you can do at home like:
- Avoid video games: VIdeo games stimulate the left brain which is why in already left brain overdeveloped kid, video games further adds fuel to the fire.
- Eliminate Gluten, dairy, corn and other known inflammatory foods: Reducing inflammation is key. I’m not a fan of strict or rigid diets for kids but until you get the inflammation reduced and the immune system better modulated this will likely be necessary.
- Omega 3’s: Omega 3’s is critical to countless processes related to brain and nervous system function and it is a key anti-inflammatory. Though caution with fish oil should be used with kids who have histamine issues.
- Magnesium: These kids are under a ton of stress and will burn through magnesium like crazy. Magnesium is a key mineral for optimal nervous system function, promoting a sense of calm and for improving motor issues.
- B vitamins: These are also burned up quite rapidly when a child is in a high stress state. Not to mention studies have shown that certain B vitamins help to alleviate tics and compulsions.
- Epsom salt baths: These are both a detoxifier and packed with magnesium sulfate which can easily enter the body as bio-available magnesium making it a great way to help kids feel calmer and have a better sleep.
The Next Line of Action – Go deeper:
- Drainage and detoxification is key for most of these kids since they often test higher than their neurotyical peers for environmental toxins.This drives up inflammation and makes it hard for the immune system to regulate when the body is toxic.
- Gut Healing is also critical since gut health is brain health. 70% of the immune system is in the gut so regulating the immune system cannot occur until the gut microbiome is balanced and leaky gut is healed.
- Address stealth infections – In many cases of Tourette’s and OCD strep, lyme and mould are at play. Targeting these infections is key but beware of thinking all your child’s challenges will be resolved if you can just get rid of the pathogen. This has much more to do with the immune response.
- NAC – This is an excellent detoxifier since it is the precursor to glutathione which is a master antioxidant.
- Improve timing in the brain – Several studies have found that poor cerebellum function connected to the timing mechanism (temporal processing) is involved with motor tics and Tourette’s. Similar research has found the same with OCD which explains why cerebellum development and technologies like Interactive Metronome are such effective therapies in treating Tourette’s and OCD.
- Serotonin and Tryptophan – These neurotransmitters are low in kids with Tourette’s and OCD.Factors like poor gut health (since many neurotransmitters are manufactured by the gut bacteria) as well as left brain over-development and a right brain delay can be involved with this reduced production.
Supplementing with amino acids like GABA and 5-HTP can be helpful temporarily to alleviate symptoms but they are not usually effective as a long term solution.
Consulting with a health care practitioner is key for both supplementing with amino acids as well as other ‘Next Line of Action’ approaches since there are many layers.
Never supplement with amino acids if your child is on SSRI’s without consulting with your family doctor.
Learn more about how our multi-therapy programs can help kids with Tourette’s, OCD and other learning and behaviour challenges by combining nutrition and gut healing with neuro-exercises and brain training technology like Interactive Metronome.
Book a free Clarity Call here.