Omega-3s & Tourette’s Disorder

Tourettes patients may benefit from omega 3 fatty acids for tic impairments

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Robert Carlson, M.D

(RxWiki News) Tourette’s disorder has a whole bag of things to manage. Omega-3 fatty acids may not be able to help with all of them, but helping tic-related impairments is a good start.

A new placebo, double-blind randomized study for kids with Tourette’s disorder used omega-3 fatty acids to test for symptom improvement. The study was small, but the results were good.

"Try omega-3 fatty acids to help with tic-related impairments"

Dr. Vilma Gabbay MD, MS, from the NYU Child Study Center at the NYU School of Medicine, led a team to find out if there are any benefits from omega-3 fatty acids for those with Tourette’s disorder.

Tourette’s disorder can have varying levels of severity. Minor cases display involuntary movements or ‘tics’, such as eye blinking, head or shoulder jerking. The more major cases include bigger displays of motor tics and involuntary vocalizations like shouting and barking.

It is important to note that though the study was double blind, meaning even the researchers handling the oil didn’t know which was omega-3 fatty acids or the placebo--olive oil. There are certain essential fatty acids in olive oil that could have skewed the results.

For the study, 33 children ages 6-18 diagnosed with Tourette’s disorder were randomly assigned to either omega-3 fatty acids or olive oil placebo for 20 weeks. The children were assessed at the beginning of the study that also controlled for attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).

The results showed that, based on the Yale Global Tic Severity Scale for impairment, the omega-3 group scored 59 percent vs. 25 percent for the placebo group.

Depressive, anxiety and obsessive-compulsive symptoms were not significantly changed by the omega-3 fatty acids.

The authors of the study conclude that even thought the omega-3 didn’t lower the tic scores it did appear to help with tic-related impairment.

This study was published in the journal Pediatrics, May 2012.  No financial information was given and no conflicts of interest were found. 

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
May 15, 2012
Last Updated:
July 27, 2012