Use of Complementary and Alternative Medicine in Children With Tourette Syndrome

Himadri Patel, Kieu Hanh Nguyen, Erik Lehman, Gayatra Mainali, Laura Duda, Debra Byler, Ashutosh Kumar

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Introduction: Tourette syndrome is a neuropsychiatric condition defined by motor and phonic tics with onset in childhood. Many families have concerns regarding potential side effects of pharmacologic treatments, and often have difficulty accessing comprehensive behavioral intervention for tics. Patients and caregivers may turn to complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) as they perceive these as “natural” and therefore “safe.” Although there are anecdotal reports of an increased use of CAM in Tourette syndrome patients, the exact prevalence is unknown. Objective: The purpose of this study was to identify commonly used CAM therapies for children with Tourette syndrome at Penn State Hershey Medical Center. Methods: A questionnaire was administered to the caregivers of children (<18 years old) via telephone. The data pertaining to demographics, type of CAM use, duration of use, adverse effects, and caregiver’s perception of the effectiveness were collected. Results: A total of 110 patients participated in this survey. When inquired about the different CAM methods, 69.1% of the participants reported using 1 or more CAM therapies, and 58% of those who used CAM informed the doctor about their use. Ninety-three percent of those who used CAM therapy reported a decrease in tic frequency. The most commonly used CAM therapies were stress management (44.6%), herbal medicine (18.2%), homeopathy (12.7%), and meditation (9.1%). In total, 46% of the participants said that CAM helped more than medication. Conclusion: The majority of patients interviewed were using CAM therapies, and a significant portion reported benefit greater than medication. More than half of all participants discussed CAM therapies with their physicians, and 63% of participants felt that their physicians would support their use of CAM therapies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)512-516
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Child Neurology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Jul 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Clinical Neurology


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