I hope you enjoy this guest post from Dr. Jennifer Heard who talks about her experience using yoga and diet to treat Tourette Syndrome. Thank you to you and your son for sharing your inspiring story.
11 years ago my eldest son started exhibiting the first signs of Tourette Syndrome. His grade 1 teacher told us we should medicate, when I said no she placed a note in his school record saying that we were difficult parents and refused to acknowledge the fact that our 6 year old was a problem and we refused to treat him. The next year his teacher called him gifted and tried to expunge the note saying quite the opposite. Now at 17 he is an honours student and an amazing big brother to his 2 younger siblings.
I refused to medicate a small child because I was a pre-med student and understood the harm that pharmaceuticals can cause such a tiny body. I changed my career goals and went into Natural Medicine. Today I hold a Doctorate of Natural Medicine at the PhD level and have “treated” my son with diet and yoga over the past 10 years. The success he has had in learning how to control his body led me to research and write about it. Over the past 2 years I have been studying the use of yoga to calm and manage tics associated with Tourette’s.
The purpose of my study was to show an alternative method for treating Tourette Syndrome; yoga practice combined with a controlled diet. By giving people choice in therapy they can reduce the need for pharmaceutical control of motor tics associated with Tourette’s. The drugs currently being used for treatment cause a large number of adverse side effects that can reduce quality of life, cause physical damage to major organs, lead to alternate syndromes which themselves are then medicated, further complicating things. My Book “Yoga Therapy for the Management of Tourette Syndrome” looks at yoga, meditation, breath and diet as they relate to Tourette’s control.
Yoga, meditation and breath technique, when used correctly, can reduce the occurrence/frequency of misfires by the central nervous system. The regular practice of yoga will strengthen and support the small muscles which help support/control the body. Meditation eases the mind, brings focus and teaches control of the body. Breath technique ensures proper oxygenation of the small & large muscle groups. The average person breathes too shallow, when you add anxiety associated with Tourette’s to this shallow breathing small supporting muscles become asphyxiated increasing the probability of nervous tissue misfire.
In today’s busy society many options for convenience foods have been popping up in our grocery stores. Often these options are not pure foods, they are packaged, full of preservatives, colourings, and man-made ingredients. These unnatural foods add stress to the body as it tries to process them. They cause buildup of plaques and gums which interfere with all body systems. By reducing and hopefully completely eliminating these unnatural additives; the symptoms of Tourette’s can be lessened or even “cured” in some people.
My book shows glimpses of actual people and how Yoga Therapy helped them. There are basic yoga poses, meditations and breath techniques that can be done at home by most people. It is my hope that this work provides an alternative to pharmaceuticals and brings some relief.
Yours in Health, Peace & Joy
Dr. Jennifer Heard DNM, DHS, RYT