When the blinking started, we knew something was definitely going on.
I’m not talking about ordinary blinking. I’m talking about excessive blinking, sometimes extremely excessive. If you’ve ever seen a kid with a blinking tic, you know what I’m talking about. Approximately two years ago, my second daughter began exhibiting tics. Since then, we have seen a variety of tics come and go (both vocal and motor).
Kidshealth.org describes tics this way: “A tic is a sudden, repetitive movement or sound that can be difficult to control. Tics that involve movements are called motor tics and those that are sounds are called vocal tics.” Tics usually become worse when children are under stress. This is definitely true for my daughter. When my daughter began experiencing tics, my mind quickly jumped to Tourette syndrome, but having tics does not necessarily mean you have Tourette syndrome.
I watch my daughter carefully every day. I notice when a new tic emerges. I notice when an old tic disappears. I notice when the tics escalate and when they subside. We have learned that certain things exacerbate her tics: stress, lack of sleep, food additives (artificial colors, etc.). If certain things can exacerbate her tics, it seems logical to me that the tics are her body’s way of calling for help. It also seems logical to me that something inside of her is out of balance. My daughter would like her “habits” (as she calls them) to stop, and by golly I’m going to do everything I can to bring about her desire.
Magnesium Saves the Day (again)
So far the only remedy we’ve tried that has shown significant and immediate results is magnesium. Surprise, surprise. :-)
For a little over a week, I have been doing an experiment. When I notice my daughters tics getting more noticeable and obvious, I put magnesium to work for her in one of three ways:
- back rub with magnesium cream,
- foot soak with magnesium bath crystals,
- bath with magnesium bath crystals.
Afterward, I watch her carefully to see if her body responds. Of those three treatments, I would say the tics subside most following the magnesoothe cream back rubs and full-body magnesium crystal baths, but all three have brought about improvements. This, of course, makes us very happy. With daily magnesium-boosting, her magnesium levels should be restored in a month or two, and perhaps her tics will disappear entirely? That’s our hope!
More Anecdotal Evidence
The experiences of other moms and kids support our own findings:
- “One of my sons had the beginnings of Tourette Syndrome when he was little – eye blinking, facial twitching, eye tics, etc. . . . We changed his diet to get more magnesium rich foods and give him magnesium supplements for a few days crushed in yogurt. It worked great. The tics, twitches and eye blinking all stopped within a few days. We made the diet changes permanent” (Source).
- “I gave him 500 mg of magnesium a day, and it really helped with his eye rolls and vocals. For some little kids this might be too much, but I’ve been told the worst thing excess magnesium can do is cause diarrhea. Now my son takes a calcium/magnesium supplement as the magnesium is best absorbed with calcium. The ratio is double the calcium to the magnesium” (Source).
- “About 2 weeks ago I started my son on Peter Gillham’s Natural Calm magnesium supplement, and at first I didn’t say anything because I wanted to see how he would be during Christmas. I can’t believe it but he has been so quiet. No yelling, and he even can go an hour without making a noise. I am so hopeful, this is the only thing I have given to him that I have seen a change in his tics” (Source).
- “I recently read about the benefits of magnesium and B-complex vitamins so thought I would give them a try and the results have been amazing! He’s only been taking them for a week and already the vocal tics have stopped and has just the ocassional eye twitch, I feel so relieved for him and he seems so much more relaxed” (Source).
I also found posts online from moms whose children didn’t improve with magnesium. I’m sure every kid’s situation is different, and magnesium may not be the solution for some. If you have a child with tics and you’re looking for ways to reduce them, overall the anecdotal evidence suggests that magnesium is probably a good place to start.
While anecdotal evidence is valuable, I’m also one who likes to see more concrete evidence before accepting something. Some more substantial research:
- “Prior studies have suggested a common etiology involved in Tourette’s syndrome and several comorbid conditions and symptomatology. . . . After thoroughly researching the literature, I hypothesize that magnesium deficiency may be the central precipitating event . . . . Clinical studies to determine the medical efficacy for a comprehensive magnesium treatment option for Tourette’s syndrome need to be conducted to make this relatively safe, low side-effect treatment option available to doctors and their patients” (The central role of magnesium deficiency in Tourette’s syndrome, 2002)
- “The muscle contortions that characterize Tourette syndrome are increased by stress and associated with anxiety, depression, and sleep disorders. Since all these associated conditions are affected by magnesium, it only makes sense to look at magnesium deficiency as a possible cause. Research has defined the central role of magnesium deficiency in Tourette syndrome, and this bears further investigation” (Carolyn Dean, M.D., N.D., The Magnesium Miracle, p. 70).
- “We intended to ascertain the effectiveness and safety of oral solutions of magnesium and vitamin B(6) in alleviating the symptoms . . . in children aged 7-14 years suffering from Tourette syndrome (TS). . . . The effects were scored on the Yale Global Tics Severity Scale (YGTSS) at 0, 15, 30, 60 and 90 days. . . . The total tics score decreased from 26.7 (t0) to 12.9 (t4) and the total effect on the YGTSS was a reduction from 58.1 to 18.8. Both results were statistically significant” (An open study evaluating the efficacy and security of magnesium and vitamin B(6) as a treatment of Tourette syndrome in children, 2008).
- “A deficit of magnesium reduces the activity of vitamin B6. . . . A deficit of vitamin B6 activity has been related with raised levels of kynurenines, spasmodic movements, abnormal movements of the head, hyperirritability, increased sympathetic stimulation and heightened sensitivity to glucocorticoids. The symptoms worsen in situations of stress and with the administration of catecolamines and glucocorticoids” (New therapeutic approach to Tourette Syndrome in children based on a randomized placebo-controlled double-blind phase IV study of the effectiveness and safety of magnesium and vitamin B6, 2009).
So there is a body of anecdotal evidence and some scientific evidence supporting the use of magnesium for tics and Tourette syndrome. While most of the evidence makes reference to dietary/oral magnesium, we prefer to use topical magnesium. I’ve written before about why topical magnesium can be more effective than oral magnesium supplements.
Why Topical Magnesium?
To reiterate, it can take six months to a year for individuals with magnesium deficiencies to restore intracellular magnesium to ideal levels with oral supplementation alone. But Norman Shealy, M.D., Ph.D., a neurosurgeon, has found that skin application of magnesium oil (25% magnesium chloride concentration) can restore intracellular levels within just four to six weeks (see Carolyn Dean, M.D., N.D., The Magnesium Miracle, p. 248).
The brand we use is Mg12. They make magnesium oil, magnesium cream, magnesium deodorant, soap, bath salts, shampoo, and more. If you’d like to try out any of Mg12′s products yourself, you can get 10% off your purchase when you use coupon code “birthfaith.”*
Do you have a child with tics or Tourette syndrome? What have you found to be helpful in reducing symptoms?
Disclaimer: I am not a medical professional. Nothing contained in my blogposts should be considered medical advice. Please do your own research about everything you read and consult with the professionals who oversee your health about your concerns or questions.
*Disclosure: I receive a small commission when you purchase products from Magnesoothe using the “birthfaith” coupon code.