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Symptoms of Tourette Syndrome

The Overlaps With Magnesium Deficiency

Can Diet Treatments Help?

Overview

Many of the symptoms associated with Tourette syndrome are also linked to magnesium (Mg) deficiency. Studies show that many American's do not get enough magnesium in their diets. As such, it would be highly logical to check people with Tourette syndrome for magnesium deficiency as a first line of treatment. Unfortunately, standard medical treatment in America often favors prescription drug treatment for diseases instead of first asking patients about their diets and testing their nutritional status.

When one of my sons was a toddler he suffered from pretty significant facial tics, twitches and eye blinking for a time. His pediatrician had no solutions for his condition so I researched his health issues in the library section at the local health food store. As a result of my research, we changed his diet to get give him more magnesium rich foods and less magnesium antagonists. His twitching, tics and blinking stopped almost immediately, and for years he was fine. Then one weekend when he was older he went away with some friends and ate nothing but junk food for a couple of days. The second night of his trip he woke up from his leg twitching. The next day he developed an eye tic for the first time again in years. Both conditions cleared up when he started to eat healthier, including more magnesium rich foods in his diet. He said that he ate a lot of peanuts after his trip and felt that helped with the tic. (Though obviously his solution would not be appropriate for anyone with a nut allergy.)

The excerpt below is taken directly from an online page called "Magnesium in Diet", located on the web site of Medline Plus, a service of the U.S. National Libray of Medicine and the National Institutes of Health.

"Magnesium is an essential mineral for human nutrition.....Early symptoms include irritability, anorexia, fatigue, insomnia, and muscle twitching."

Food for Thought: If muscle twitching is an established sign of a magnesium deficiency, even noted as such by the U.S. National Institute of Health's web site, then why do most medical professionals ignore a lack of magnesium in the diet as a possible factor in Tourette syndrome?

mg symbol

These days one can look on the Internet and find hundreds, if not thousands, of published medical studies that link tics, twitches and other symptoms commonly associated with Tourette syndrome to symptoms associated with deficiencies of magnesium. It is unfortunate that there has not been more research in this area. Since my page on tics and magnesium has been online, I have received many emails from parents noting a decrease in tics associated with an increase in magnesium rich foods in their child's diet, similar to the results we saw with our son. One person reported that her son's vocal tics also improved with diet changes.

If you look at this list of symptoms often associated with Tourette Syndrome, and then research studies on magnesium deficiency, you will find many similarities, some of which are listed in the table below.

Symptoms
Tourette
Syndrome
 

Magnesium
Deficiency

       
Migraines
X
 
X
       
Twitches
X
 
X
       
Restless leg
X
 
X
       

Tics

X
 
X
       
Anxiety
X
 
X
       
Depression
X
 
X
       
Allergies
X
 
X
       
Autism
X
 
X
       
Hypersensitive Hearing
X
 
X
       
Insomnia
X
 
X
       
Attention Deficit Disorder
X
 
X
       
Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
X
 
X

Table: Similarities Between Symptoms of Magnesium Deficiency and Tourette Syndrome

Selected Studies of Interest

Migraines - Are common in both Tourette syndrome as well as magnesium deficient people. A study published in the medical journal Headache, by researchers from Department of Neurology, Medical Faculty, University of Pécs, Hungary, noted that "Magnesium retention occurs in patients with migraine after oral loading, suggesting a systemic magnesium deficiency."

Autism - Researchers from Italy found that, "No differences in intracellular Mg were found between controls and pathological subjects; however, autistic children and children with other autistic spectrum disorders had significantly lower plasma concentrations of Mg than normal subjects (p=0.013 and p=0.02, respectively). Although our study population was small, we conclude that children with autistic spectrum disorders require special dietary management. If these cases are diagnosed at an early stage, they can be helped through diet." (Italics added for emphasis.)

Restless Leg Syndrome - In a study published in the Romanian Journal of Neurology and Psychiatry, researchers at the Academy of Medical Sciences, Department of Neurology, Tirgu-Mures, Romania, published a paper on "Clinical, EEG, electromyographic and polysomnographic studies in restless legs syndrome caused by magnesium deficiency."

Attention Deficit Disorder - Researchers from Poland, in a study published in the journal Magnesium Research found that, "Magnesium deficiency was found in 95 per cent of those examined, most frequently in hair (77.6 per cent), in red blood cells (58.6 per cent) and in blood serum (33.6 per cent) of children with ADHD. The conclusion from the investigations is that magnesium deficiency in children with ADHD occurs more frequently than in healthy children." (Italics added for emphasis.)

Insomnia - An online article from researchers at the USDA's Grand Forks Human Nutrition Center notes that, "Magnesium plays a key role in the body's chemistry that regulates sleep. This may be why persons with long-term lack of sleep, or abnormal brain waves during deep sleep, often have low magnesium in their blood."

Lack of Adequate Magnesium Intake Common in U.S.

The studies above are just a small sample of the literature available that show similarities between common Tourette symptoms to magnesium deficiency. In an article entitled, "Dietary Magnesium Intake in a National Sample of U.S. Adults", published in the Journal of Nutrition Online, researchers from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that the diet of a large proportion of the U.S. population did not contain adequate magnesium. As such, if the diet of the U.S. as a whole contains inadequate magnesium, then it would seem logical to suspect that people with Tourette syndrome, who have many symptoms also commonly associated with magnesium deficiency, may also be deficient in this important mineral.

 

 

Related sections of interest:

Your Diet Might be Related to Anxiety and Depression

Insomnia - Natural Treatments

Overlooked Health Risks of Low Cholesterol

Eye and Facial Tics in Children

Dietary Help for Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

Can Diet Help Tourettes Syndrome?

 

Selected Links -

A paper in published in the journal Medical Hypotheses, on the similarities between the symptoms of Tourette syndrome and magnesium deficiency stated that "These comorbid conditions and symptomatology include allergy, asthma, autism, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, coprolalia, copropraxia, anxiety, depression, restless leg syndrome, migraine, self-injurious behavior, autoimmunity, rage, bruxism, seizure, heart arrhythmia, heightened sensitivity to sensory stimuli, and an exaggerated startle response."

Tourette's, Other Tic Disorders Far More Common Than Once Thought - An interesting article from Science Daily notes that in a study of of over fifteen hundred children in Rochester, New York, twenty-seven percent had some tic disorder and eight percent of the children in a special education class had Tourette syndrome. Common yet often overlooked signs of Tourette's include, scrunching up one’s nose, little jerks of the head, facial twitches, rapid eye blinking, constant sniffing or repeated throat clearing.

 

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