top of page

A Rant About Natural Interventions, Bias in Research, and Food Sensitivities in Tic Conditions

The ACN Latitudes website contains many personal stories from families who have seen a reduction in organic tics by using natural methods, including diet changes / the elimination of food sensitivities. It is possible that the consumption of food sensitivities in some people with tics may lead to some form of immune response against the foods which then affects the brain. There have been studies demonstrating this kind of dynamic in Depression, Bipolar Disorder, and Schizophrenia. Although these conditions are very different to organic tic conditions, it demonstrates how sensitivities to certain foods may affect the brain.

There is a bias in research. A PubMed search for 'Tourette medication' yielded 2039 results, whereas the search 'Tourette diet' only yielded 23 results. (Correct as of 10/11/2021)

I am definitely not implying that there's anything wrong with medication, there's not, I take medication for OCD. However, I want to demonstrate how much of an imbalance there is in research, certain areas have a ton of research which is great, whereas other areas don't seem to have much at all.

Some people say "there isn't enough evidence that certain foods can influence tics', which is true, but it doesn't mean that the foods don't affect some people. It just means that there isn't enough funding in this area of research and that there aren't as many scientists or physicians interested in this area. This must change so that we can have various methods of managing conditions researched, not just a select few. Why is there so little funding for natural / dietary interventions, if so many people are reporting that it works for them?

I am one of the people who benefitted from the elimination of food sensitivities. When I eliminated dairy I had over a year / almost 2 years with hardly any tics at all. I went from having tics so severe that my school wanted to refer me to a Medical Pupil Referral Unit to only ticcing slightly a few days out of the year. I was able to go off of ALL medication without any return of my severe symptoms. It seemed like a miracle. However for me my tics did eventually return when I got a throat infection, as I developed a plethora of neurological and psychiatric symptoms and my brain took quite a hit, so it is understandable that my tics returned. I had to go back on my OCD medication but not my tic medication. However, that time where I hardly ticced after the elimination of dairy was completely worth it.

Some people believe that the idea of foods affecting tics is ridiculous, but so many people report similar experiences, so there has to be something to it. I would not talk so much about tic triggers and the impact of food sensitivities in neurological and psychiatric conditions if I didn't think it could help someone. We need more unbiased research in this area, we need to listen to people in the community talking about what works for them. People know their own bodies well enough to know what helps them and what makes them worse.

If someone has found that the elimination of a certain food sensitivity reduces their tics and other symptoms and improves their quality of life, then it is hurtful when people say "that's nonsense", as it is not. When people say this it is incredibly invalidating to the person, when they are just happily expressing what has helped them, with the hope that it could help another person. We need to focus less on "how the brain is wired" and more on the immunological aspects of these conditions. Studies show that Tourette Syndrome, PANS, PANDAS, Depression, Schizophrenia, and Bipolar Disorder can all have links to the immune system and inflammation (please do your research on this), so we need to figure out what is fueling that inflammation. For some people it appears to be food sensitivities, for some people it could be infections, for others it could be stress, etc. Focusing on a new area that integrates the old ideas about these conditions and mixes them with new ideas as we get more and more new evidence will allow us to discover new ways of effectively managing conditions.

There is quite a bit of stigma around ‘natural interventions’ and ‘holistic and alternative management strategies’. Some people believe that if these methods do work, then it must only be for people with mild traits of a condition. However, in my personal experience with my severe tics being halted for over a year using natural interventions, I realized this was not necessarily the case. The elimination of food sensitivities from the diet is not going to help everyone, but I am so grateful that I eliminated certain foods from my diet to see if it helps. If you never try you’ll never know. If you eliminate the root triggers for your symptoms, then there's a chance that something as simple as eliminating certain foods from the diet (depending on what food sensitivities a person has, depending what other triggers a person may have, and what other factors may play into the condition) may be enough to improve someone's quality of life if that is one of the main triggering factors for the symptoms. Trying to find symptom triggers and seeking to address the root factors of a condition should never be seen as 'alternative'. If we eliminate triggers which make our symptoms worse, it is understandable that the symptoms could reduce.

We need more research in certain areas. Let's eliminate the bias in research. A lot of people say that they are 'skeptical' and 'have doubts' about food sensitivities affecting tics, but people's experiences are evidence in themselves. We need more physicians and scientists who are willing to do research in this area, out of the kindness of their hearts.

Note: It is thought that my Tourette Syndrome diagnosis may be a misdiagnosis, it is now thought that I have PANS, food sensitivities influence my symptoms a lot, but I have friends in the Tourette's community who also report that foods do affect their tics. A lot of people online who share their stories about food sensitivities affecting their tics have Tourette Syndrome. I am definitely NOT preaching diet as a cure for Tourette's or PANS, but it could be used as a management strategy for some individuals so some people may see a naturopath or integrative or environmental physician to get tested for delayed food sensitivities which could affect neurological functioning. I am also NOT implying that Tourette Syndrome is caused by diet, it is not. Tourette Syndrome is a genetic neurological condition, but what if it is a genetic neurological condition which predisposes someone to having food sensitivities which could affect the brain, which in turn may exacerbate tics?

Everyone who is affected by food sensitivities / brain allergies will have different food sensitivities, it is NOT as simple as 'one diet will work for everyone'.

Disclaimer: I am NOT a medical professional, this is NOT to be used as a substitute for diagnosis or treatment from a qualified physician, this is to be used for educational purposes only. For medical advice, please see a medical practitioner. I do NOT claim to treat or cure any condition. This is just what works for me and these are simply my thoughts and speculations on the subject. Please do your own research. DO NOT come off of any medication without a doctors guidance, as this can be dangerous and can lead to withdrawal effects.


bottom of page