Nicotine for the treatment of Tourette's syndrome

Pharmacol Ther. 1997;74(1):21-5. doi: 10.1016/s0163-7258(96)00199-4.


Recent evidence has demonstrated that nicotine may obtund the symptoms of Tourette's syndrome (TS). TS is a neuropsychiatric disorder characterized by motor and vocal tics, obsessions and compulsions, and frequently with impulsivity, distractibility, and visual-motor deficits. While neuroleptics, such as haloperidol, are most effective for treatment of the motor and vocal tics of TS, these medications have many side effects. In this article, we review the evidence, consistent with findings in animals, that administration of nicotine (either 2 mg nicotine gum or 7 mg transdermal nicotine patch) potentiates the therapeutic properties of neuroleptics in treating TS patients and that a single patch may be effective for a variable number of days. These findings suggest that transdermal nicotine could serve as an effective adjunct to neuroleptic therapy for TS.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Antipsychotic Agents / therapeutic use
  • Child
  • Female
  • Ganglionic Stimulants / therapeutic use*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Nicotiana / therapeutic use
  • Nicotine / therapeutic use*
  • Phytotherapy
  • Plants, Toxic
  • Rats
  • Tourette Syndrome / drug therapy*
  • Tourette Syndrome / pathology


  • Antipsychotic Agents
  • Ganglionic Stimulants
  • Nicotine