Is gum beneficial to individuals who struggle with tics?
Before we answer this question, let’s do a quick review on tics themselves. As defined by KidsHealth article, “Tics,” (one of my favorite neurological and health resources), a tic is,
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 can be either simple or complex:…
While it is possible to often slow or suppress tics, it’s impossible to stop them permanently just by “trying harder.” The University of Washington’s article, “Tourette Syndrome,” says that while the evidence isn’t great enough to be conclusive,
Tics may be caused by dopamine receptors that are overly sensitive to dopamine in certain areas of the brain.
Whatever the cause, it seems that many individuals with Tourettes end up with an excessive amount of energy…more-so, at least, than the average Joe (no offense to all the Joes out there). The problem for those of us who struggle with tics is that this extra energy seems to leak out of our hands, necks, shoulders, ankles, feet, knees, fingers, you name it. We can feel as if we’re about to constantly jump out of our skin if we’re told to “sit still.”
We’ve discussed before the tremendous benefit of exercise when it comes to lowering tics. But what about those moments when you can’t exercise? Most bosses probably wouldn’t appreciate a break-out session of jumping jacks in the middle of a meeting. Today, we’re going to discuss an unlikely alternative to cardio.sy.
Live Science’s article, “Chewing Gum Improves Test Performance, Study Suggests,” says that chewing gum increases the blood that moves through the head. And what comes with blood, but oxygen? Forbes article, “Chew Yourself a Better Brain,” says,
In fact, chewing gum for about 20 minutes is on par with mild exercise in terms of sending more blood to the brain. Continuing to chew after the warm-up period seems to have required too much jaw-work, and burning more energy negated the benefits.
The Scientific American’s article, “Chewing Gum May Improve Concentration,” says,
The researchers say that gum increases the flow of oxygen to regions of the brain responsible for attention.
Forbes even adds that chewing gum has been studied in conjunction with anxiety reduction, which I find quite interesting, as tics are often exacerbated by anxiety.
How Does This Help Us?
I can’t claim this idea as an original one of my own. I first read about it in the book, “Front of the Class,” a memoir that changed my life. In it, the author talks about how he used to chew gum when he was a baseball mascot in order to stay still during the Pledge of Allegiance. Since then, I’ve tested it on my own and found that at times, gum can be quite effective.
If you’re reading this article for a child, particularly one with a 504 plan, consider talking to his teacher and the school staff about letting him chew gum during class. Obviously, he would need to be able to do so in a way that doesn’t disrupt the other students’ learning. You could also keep gum on handy for places like church or at events where your child needs to sit still.
Chewing gum isn’t a miracle cure, and it’s not going to cure Tourettes or tic disorders. And of course, I’m not a doctor, so please don’t use this post as a medical treatment. (Instead, talk to your doctor about what will work best for you.) I’m simply writing to say that for some individuals, gum can act as one more management tool to help us live our lives unhindered by the daily struggle of tics.
Have you used gum to help manage your tics? I’d love to hear your thoughts! Just comment in the box below or email me. Also, if you’re interested in getting updates on posts, as well as a free resource guide,subscribe for free to my email list! As always, thanks for reading!