Treatment of Tourette syndrome with delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (delta 9-THC): no influence on neuropsychological performance.
Neuropsychopharmacology. 2003 Feb;28(2):384-8. PMID: 12589392
Department of Clinical Psychiatry and Psychotherapy, Medical School Hannover, Hannover, Germany. firstname.lastname@example.org
Previous studies provide evidence that marijuana (Cannabis sativa) and delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (Delta(9)-THC), the major psychoactive ingredient of marijuana, respectively, are effective in the treatment of tics and behavioral problems in Tourette syndrome (TS). It, therefore, has been speculated that the central cannabinoid receptor system might be involved in TS pathology. However, in healthy marijuana users there is an ongoing debate as to whether the use of cannabis causes acute and/or long-term cognitive deficits. In this randomized double-blind placebo-controlled study, we investigated the effect of a treatment with up to 10 mg Delta(9)-THC over a 6-week period on neuropsychological performance in 24 patients suffering from TS. During medication and immediately as well as 5-6 weeks after withdrawal of Delta(9)-THC treatment, no detrimental effect was seen on learning curve, interference, recall and recognition of word lists, immediate visual memory span, and divided attention. Measuring immediate verbal memory span, we even found a trend towards a significant improvement during and after treatment. Results from this study corroborate previous data suggesting that in patients suffering from TS, treatment with Delta(9)-THC causes neither acute nor long-term cognitive deficits. Larger and longer-duration controlled studies are recommended to provide more information on the adverse effect profile of THC in patients suffering from TS.