Stuttering, also known as stammering or, if you want to be posh, dysphemia, is a speech impediment. With stuttering, sufferers can repeat syllables or, in severe cases, whole words. They might stretch out words, for instance, “pee-eee-ple”. The majority of adult stutterers can predict the words they will struggle with. If they have difficulty pronouncing a certain word, they may pause for awhile. When particular words are problematic, they can avoid them altogether. Failing that, they can find themselves adding bullshit words, like “umm” or “You know.” Words with more syllables have a greater chance of being troublesome.

Bruce Willis stuttered badly when he was a child. Photo: Geoffrey Chandler

Bruce Willis stuttered badly when he was a child. Photo: Geoffrey Chandler

Who stutters?

Stuttering is found in about five percent of children aged between two and five and around one percent of adults. In the West, it occurs three or four times as often in boys as in girls. It can arise in children or adults. Around 75 percent of children will outgrow it. With stuttering that begins in adults, the cause is generally neurogenic. This might be due to brain trauma, drug abuse or epilepsy.

The problems that ensue

With stuttering, there is stress, and stress makes it worse. Might cannabis help here? The stress could cause people to hesitate before speaking or avoid speaking at all. They might also have facial or body tics. They could blink constantly or clench their fists.

Stutterers frequently suffer from low self esteem, and it might curb their ability to develop relationships with other people. In the worst cases, people isolate and could even harm themselves. People don’t stutter when singing, which uses different bits of the brain.

Yes, it’s time for some cannabis!

The US Food and Drug Administration found cannabis to cause no adverse effects with stuttering. It might actually be beneficial. Cannabis could provide relief because it relaxes the muscles. There is likely to be less rapid blinking and fist clenching. Cannabis also promotes social contact.

The principal symptom of Tourette’s Syndrome (TS) is tics. It is associated with stuttering in as many as 33 percent of cases. A study in 1998 found that people with TS who took cannabis had 80 percent less tics. Another study, of two teenaged German males, concluded, “[C]annabis-based medicine appears to be effective in treatment-resistant TS patients with vocal blocking tics.”

A statement by two doctors, King and Leckman, read that there had been “a few randomised clinical trials of delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol … [THC] the active ingredient in marijuana”. They stated that some investigators were “convinced” that THC was helpful when treating TS. One was Kirsten Muller-Vahl, MD, who led the study THC Is Effective in the Treatment of Tics in Tourette Syndrome: a 6-Week Randomized Trial. She remarked, “It, therefore, can be hypothesised that the central cannabinoid receptor system might play a role in TS pathology.”

Famous stutterers

Bruce Willis stuttered as a child. Dead famous author Lewis Carroll and King George VI suffered as adults. King George’s stutter was made famous by the film The King’s Speech.

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