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Ketogenic/paleo/low-carb diet for Tourettes?

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So I'm interested if anyone has tried a paleo/low-carbish sort of diet for Tourettes? I'm thinking ketogenic as in very low carbs; ie 20-30 grams/day. I saw that a study on this was about to happen in USA, but for some reason they shut it down.


I think people dedicate too much time to find a million of weird tic triggers, and half of them are probably close to placebo and more akin to suggestion imo. So I'm thinking of easier and more thorough approaches that (hopefully...) could have dramatic consequences on behaviour, tics and mood. So I'm thinking a ketogenic diet.


Anyone tried it? Results?


I've done very low carb days here and there and I'm definately calmer, tend to tic alot less (the urge goes down)and have heaps of energy all through the day and night. All good so far, except that I can't fall asleep because I feel so awake. Lately I've been thinking about tics and blood sugar, seems to be a connection. Now if blood sugar was low almost all the time, maybe tics would get better.

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I see
so for you doing a diet to see if perhaps food is a trigger is ok but for anyone else finding other things that are triggers is "weird" and "placebo effect".....
I am sorry Jens but with that attitude I don't want to engage in any discussion with you.

As you were rather rude about all this on the electromagnetic thread as well, I'll just keep my "mumbo jumbo" for those who are here to have open minded discussions!


and for the record, we have been discussing the importance of diet as related to tics etc here for years now!

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Take it as you will


I'm just saying I don't think all the tic triggers are solid. Too much anecdotal and random stuff going on, seems like everything from sunlight, electromagnetic fields to watching romantic comedies bring on tics. It's almost ridiculous imo. I have tics myself so I know what it's like but I think we need to focus on our biology and less on finding weird tic triggers everywhere.


Imo diet is a huge deal, and everything affecting neurotransmittors etc is obviously important. More so than whether or not wearing bleached shorts triggers tics.


I don't mean to be rude but my point is that I think alot of people are fooling themselves. Sorry to be blunt, but it's probably true.

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  • 3 months later...

Hello jens ,


I 2nd your blood sugar conclusion , as I do in fact notice a fairly good improvement in my ticks if I have a strictly low GI breakfast (I usually have Bran bread + yoghurt), and not follow that with anything that contains simple carbs for a few hours.Tick-reducing effects and calmness are sustained through out the day.


How's the low carb diet working out so far for ticks and energy ?


I've just registered on this forum , so probably I'll iterate more on my findings in another thread - but for now what I found work best for my ticks :


1- Segmented sleep ( 3-4 hrs sleep , 1-1.5 hrs up , 2-3 hrs sleep): clears your head and boosts/calms the nervous system.


2- Magnesium : Mg Citrate works , Mg Aspartate works but controversal (neurotoxic) , Mg glycinate makes me depressed , which is weird.

The more the better - 400Mg is the minimum . Magnesium is the single most important thing .


3- Taurine (500-1000 mg) : Slight help , but does help.


4- Zinc : in L-OptiZinc form (keep it < 30 Mg /day) , definitely helps as well . Other forms did not help.


5- This is weird as it should be the opposite, but I actually found tyrosine 500mg + coffee (150+ mg caffeine) 2hrs later, to have a surprising effect on ticks , takes a few days to kick in, but after a few days makes me sleepless and restless , worsening everything else. (too much dopamine + adrenaline - maybe a lower dose will work better).





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What I've actually meant is that tyrosine+caffeine had a positive effect on reducing ticks - in fact it reduced my ticks quite noticeably (urge to tick is reduced) which is not what you would expect giving that this combo increases dopamine.

Coming to think about it there might be an explanation - I'm no medical researcher but from what I gather since TS is mainly related to brain dopamine receptors being hyper-sensitive , reducing brain dopamine means reduced receptor activity , which means reduced ticks, and it works according to studies.

But from what I've read somewhere , hyper sensitivity of dopamine receptors can be the result of dopamine receptor 'starvation' (among other reasons I guess)- if receptors are not receiving enough dopamine, they become over sensitive and ticks occur when they do receive dopamine .

While a moderate increase in dopamine (caffeine/ tyrosine alone ?) will still keep receptors starved and aggravate the ticks because of the increased dopamine , maybe supplying the receptors with enough dopamine (the result of tyrosine+caffeine) will decrease their sensitivity ,improving the ticks.

Anyway that's just a theory not based on a professional opinion , maybe it just works for me for some other reason, too bad tyrosine also increases adrenaline , thyroid hormones and can cause the heart to pound hard, that can't be good for health.


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  • 2 months later...

Born dead,


I'm experimenting with low-carb/paleo for tics now and I'm thinking of going ketogenic to check the effects out on tics.


Tics can also get worse on low-carb but I think the most important thing is even blood sugar, either through many smaller meals with small amounts of carbohydrates or a full-blown ketogenic diet where fats are used to make ketone bodies and this kind of diet will make the blood sugar extremely stable and at the lowish end of normal (blood sugar seldom drops dangerously low unless you're diabetic).


I've also been reading about ketogenic diets and adenosine lately and I saw this review on adenosine where the writers talk about possible implications not only for epilepsy but also tourettes. Ketogenic diets (ie low-carb with highish fat) take some weeks to really work, because the body has to fully make the switch from carbs to ketones as fuel for the brain and body.


Anyways, adenosine works stabilizing for cells (caffeine for example antagonizes adenosine) and makes us calmer (and more sleepy) and a ketogenic diet increases the activiy of adenosine, which could possibly be huge for tourettes. I've noticed that I many times tic a lot less on zero carb on some days. The urge lessens and although I tic some it bothers me less and I feel just generally more even-tempered and my body is calmer.


Keep the discussion going; I think this might be important in the management for tics. I'll post again in a while. Take care people!


Edit: two links,


The study on a ketogenic diet for Tourettes wich very unfortunately didn't fly (not enough participants): http://clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT00952601


A review of the modified Atkins diet (ketogenic diet), which is easier to follow than the original ketogenic diet used for epilepsy: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/19049584?dopt=Abstract

Edited by JensOfSweden
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Jens, I am currently on a ketogenic diet and can relay the positive results I have been getting:

Previously I would have extreme random thoughts, especially in conversation with others. I would also find myself saying random weird and inappropriate things while conversing with others. This condition was not debilitating for me and in fact not actually too traumatic due to the fact that I would rationalise these occurrences as being just me and the special way my creative brain worked, this I discovered was not actually the case. My randomness was not too rude, just wildly off topic, and though my thoughts were extreme they went unbeknownst to others, I would also take some solace in the fact that these extreme thoughts were my own and private. So I was managing fully and 'this condition ' as I now call, it went completely untreated. Well after water fasting for 5 days and then two weeks after going through a pretty hard switch over to full ketogenic brain functioning (90% fat 8% protein and 2% carbs) I can tell you my thoughts are calm and my conversations are focused and on topic. The condition that I did not know I had until it was gone has left me for good, when it left I noticed a quiet, a silence of my mind, a calm space where I can control my thoughts at will, and I feel very energetic on this diet.

The sideways randomness of my former condition suggests to me some dopamine misbehaviour, I am still able to be creative but its far more controlled, focused and directed.

I hope my experience here can be of some help to those suffering from full tourette's and that even if some have invested much time and energy forming new neural pathways for triggers to follow that they will consider this. Yes its hard but once I was fully on the diet I found a new energy and clarity of mind thats makes the transition worth the wait. BTW if you believe the hype about saturated fat being bad for your heart, this diet is not for you, however if you have through research come to understand that saturated fat on this diet is actually good for you and that high total cholesterol is good for you too then it can actually be a fun diet, think loads and loads of butter, cream, cheese cheese cheese and many other savoury delights, oh and remember to add lots of salt. Always the opposite right!

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Yeah, ketogenic diets seem to have interesting mental benefits and I can attest to what you're saying about the silent mind. I've noticed the same thing myself when I've cut carbs or fasted long periods of time, there's a calm serenity and almost sort of a "religious" feeling of clarity and calmness which feels awesome.


However, it's still about the tics though because if tics get worse on a ketogenic diet it's probably not worth it.

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  • 3 months later...

Just thought I'd bump this thread.


I think there's something potentially very interesting here. I've noticed many times how tics seems to worsen with blood sugar fluctuations and how they tend to be calmer with a more even blood sugar.


I'm thinking of embarking on a journey, the ketogenic diet that is, and document the results in regards to how the tics respond.


Anyone with me? There's this MAD (Modified atkins diet) which is a MUCH easier version of the standard ketogenic diet. The rules are, less than 20 g carbs/day, unlimited protein and fat, ie eat how much you need to feel good.

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  • 1 year later...

Jens, any progress regarding your experiment with a ketogenic/MAD diet? I too am planning to experiment with a ketogenic diet for the treatment of TS, ADHD, and anxiety. Since these disorders are often comorbid it stands to reason that they possess a common root cause, and I believe glucose is in some way related. After years of little success with pharmaceutical interventions, elimination diets, exercise, supplements, and behavioral modification I've decided to try a more radical approach and completely cut all medium to high glycemic foods from my diet. I'll report back my findings once I've had some time for the diet to kick in......

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