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Treatment-resistant stuttering: could cannabis help patients?

A case study from Poland on a man with treatment-resistant stuttering shows that cannabis may help with speech fluency.



Treatment-resistant stuttering: A cannabis leaf lies in front of a brown glass bottle with other medical bottles with white lids contain CBD oil

A case study from Poland on cannabis use by a patient with treatment-resistant stuttering showed potential sustained improvements in speech fluency.

Researchers affiliated with the Medical University of Warsaw in Poland and The Hannover Medical School in Germany have published the report in the journal Cannabis and Cannabinoid Research.

Speech dysfluency or stuttering is a speech disorder. The NHS estimated that stammering affects around one in a hundred adults, with men being around three to four times more likely to stammer than women. In the majority of people, symptoms may improve by adulthood or require treatment. Treatment can include speech therapy, cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT) and relaxation techniques.

Although some patients who do not respond to these treatments can become treatment-resistant.

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Treatment-resistant stuttering

The patient, a 20-year-old man with refractory stuttering was given daily doses of vaporised cannabis. He reported that there were improvements to his speech fluency and also his overall quality of life. The patient did not experience any adverse side effects from the treatment during the one-year observational period.

Authors reported: “This is the first case report of a patient suffering from impairing and treatment-resistant stuttering, who markedly improved after treatment with medicinal cannabis. Based on the patient’s self-report and reports of family and friends, as well as several established assessments, use of cannabis resulted not only in an improvement of stuttering but also the remission of (social) anxiety and reduced depression and stress, as well as improved sleep, attention, concentration, self-confidence, social life, and overall quality of life without any side effect. Importantly, treatment effects did not decrease over time.”

“Medicinal cannabis could be effective in treatment of refractory stuttering, but these preliminary data have to be confirmed in controlled studies.”

Previous studies

This is the first case report on the effectiveness of cannabis for patients with stuttering disorders. However, there have been previous studies on tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) for patients with Tourettes syndrome.

A study from 2017 showed that cannabis may help with the symptoms of Tourettes syndrome. Researchers retrospectively evaluated the effectiveness and tolerability of cannabis in 19 adults with the condition. They recorded that tic scores were potentially decreased by 60 percent. It was also noted that 18 out of the 19 participants were described as ‘much improved.’

Patients appeared to have had much greater improvement using inhaled cannabis compared with pure oral THC, THC/CBD oromucosal spray, or the oral cannabinoid nabilone.

Researchers in the treatment-resistant stuttering case study have called for more clinical studies to take place.

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