Tics in children are typically caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors. Stress, anxiety, and certain medications or substances can trigger or worsen tics. In some cases, tics may be a symptom of an underlying medical condition, such as Tourette syndrome, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) or Pediatric Acute-onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome (PANS).
A tic is a sudden, repetitive, non-rhythmic movement or sound that is difficult to control. Tics can be either motor tics (involving movement) or vocal tics (involving sound). Some examples of motor tics include eye blinking, head jerking, shoulder shrugging, or facial grimacing. Vocal tics may include throat clearing, sniffing, or grunting.
Tics are often preceded by an urge or sensation that the person feels they must respond to, and the tic itself provides temporary relief. Tics can be involuntary and occur without the person being aware of them, or they can be voluntary and occur as a response to stress or anxiety.
There is evidence to suggest a link between gut health and tics and Tourette syndrome. Research has shown that individuals with Tourette syndrome and other tic disorders also have dysbiosis – an imbalance in their gut microbiome. Opportunistic bacteria may play a role in the development or exacerbation of tic disorders.
Other studies have suggested that deficiencies in certain vitamins and minerals, such as amino acids, magnesium and vitamin B6, may be associated with tics in children. Additionally, some research has suggested that certain food additives, such as artificial sweeteners and preservatives, may exacerbate tics in children with tic disorders.
Naturopathic treatment can be highly beneficial for reducing or resolving tics in children and can be used in conjunction with other medical treatments.
When treating tics we look at:
1. Dietary changes: Some foods can trigger tics in some people. Eliminating these foods from the diet can be helpful. These may include artificial sweeteners, food additives, caffeine, sugar, and gluten.
2. Herbal remedies: Certain herbs such as chamomile, passionflower, and valerian root may have calming effects and can help reduce the severity of tics.
3. Nutritional supplements: Certain nutrients, such as magnesium and vitamin B6, may help reduce tics in some people. It is important to understand that supplantation is only beneficial when there is a deficiency.
4. Breathing exercises support the nervous system and can help reduce stress and anxiety, which can trigger tics.
5. Craniosacral therapy to nurture the nervous system and allow the body to heal.
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