The influence of different food and drink on tics in Tourette syndrome

Acta Paediatr. 2008 Apr;97(4):442-6. doi: 10.1111/j.1651-2227.2008.00675.x. Epub 2008 Feb 27.


Aim: Tourette syndrome (TS) is characterized by waxing and waning motor and vocal tics. Because standard medication often remains unsatisfactory, many patients seek alternative medicine. The aim of this study was to increase experience about the influence of food and drinks in TS.

Methods: A standardized questionnaire was sent to 887 people recruited from our Tourette outpatient clinic and the German TS self-aid group. Respondents should assess whether 32 different foods influenced their tics.

Results: Two hundred twenty-four questionnaires could be used for analyses. A significant positive correlation (tic deterioration) was found for caffeine- and theine-containing drinks such as coke (p<0.001), coffee (p<0.001) and black tea (p<0.001) as well as for preserving agents (p<0.001), refined sugar (p<0.001) and sweeteners (p<0.001). A significant negative correlation (tic improvement) was not found.

Conclusions: Results from this first survey investigating the influence of special foods and drinks on tics demonstrated that 34% and 47% of responders, respectively, assessed that coffee and coke deteriorate tics. It, therefore, can be speculated that caffeine may further stimulate an already overactive dopaminergic system in TS and thus increases tics. However, from these preliminary data, no further general recommendations regarding special diets and food restrictions can be made.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Beverages* / adverse effects
  • Carbonated Beverages
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Coffee
  • Dietary Sucrose
  • Female
  • Food*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Tea
  • Tics / epidemiology*
  • Tics / prevention & control
  • Tourette Syndrome*


  • Coffee
  • Dietary Sucrose
  • Tea