Katy, age 3, was brought in eight months ago by her mother, who was worried about her stuttering. She was a delicate-looking, but active little girl with straight blonde hair. She was sweet and a bit shy. We noticed that she covered her eyes periodically when her mother talked about her. Her stuttering began when she first started to talk at 13 months. Her communication skills were always below average. She could get out the first part of a word, but not the rest, and would repeat the first part over and over again. There were certain words she couldn’t pronounce at all. For example, she would want to ask “why?”, but would ask “how” instead, because “why” was too hard to say. When she couldn’t get her words out fast enough, she became tense and frustrated. She would scrunch and contort her face, ball up her fists and put them in her mouth, appearing extremely anguished. The day after she and her mother moved to a new house, she wouldn’t speak for three days because it was so hard to get the words out. Katy was receiving regular speech therapy. Despite her communication difficulties, Katy was very talkative. (As her mother told Katy’s story, Katy sang happily to the teddy bears on the office loveseat.)
Katy weighed six and a half pounds at birth, but was chubby by six months of age. Her mother, a single mom, had nursed her for the first three months, during which time the mother’s diet was not very good due to lack of money. he mother was going to school and working fifty hours a week . She stopped nursing because Katy wanted to nurse every fifteen minutes. She was slow to teethe (she cut her first tooth at about ten months). She suffered from otitis media beginning at a year and a half. She would have a brown, gooey discharge. It more often affected her left ear. She rarely cried with the otitis. She had received numerous courses of antibiotics for the otitis. She received all of her childhood immunizations. At age two, Katy was apparently given some hallucinogen, unbeknownst to her mother. She was hospitalized overnight to pump her stomach.
She had some eczema on her back at age two from chocolate, and occasionally across the bridge of her nose. Katy’s mother told us that her hair grew slowly and her nails were weak.
Katy had a vaginal yeast infection two weeks before her mother first brought her in, with itching, redness, and a milky white discharge. She was treated with Nysatin cream.
Katy was warm, and liked to run around the house naked. She sweated on her head while sleeping. She slept soundly, usually on her left side. Katy loved ripe fruit, ice cubes, popsicles, ice cream, milk, and cheese. Salty foods and sweets were close behind. She also liked scrambled eggs. Katy was very thirsty for cold drinks.
Katy’s mother described her as imaginative. She would cry after her mother read her a story because she wanted the character in the story to come play with her. She would pretend that she were Cinderella and only answer to that name. She talked often to her stuffed animals. She was stubborn, strong-willed, independent, active, and social. She feared the dark and monsters. She laughed when reprimanded. She became defiant and “fell apart” when she got tired.
We gave Katy one dose of Calcarea carbonica 200c. She was scheduled for an eight week follow-up, to allow plenty of time to elapse before reevaluating her stuttering. Katy had the Calcarea carbonica features of slowness to teethe and talk, sweating on the head during sleep, slow hair growth, weak nails, and sleeping on the left side. She also had the imaginative quality of Calcarea carbonica as well as the tendency to otitis media, vaginal yeast infections, and eczema. Her desires for ice cream, milk cheese, salty, and eggs were highly characteristic of Calcarea carbonica. She was basically a happy, spunky little girl, who was likely to respond very well to the remedy. It is interesting to note that Calcarea carbonica does not appear in Kent’s Repertory in the rubric “MOUTH; SPEECH; stammering”.
One month later, Katy’s mother brought her in because she thought the remedy had worked, then been antidoted. Her stuttering had decreased to three stutters per 100 words. It had been 17 per hundred prior to the remedy. Katy had developed another bout of otitis. The mother, not yet convinced of the effectiveness of homeopathy for otitis, had given her antibiotics rather than calling us. Within a week, the stuttering had reverted to its previous frequency. Katy now had right ear pain. She had some brownish discharge from the ear. She was crying, holding her ear, and wanted to be held and comforted.
We gave her Belladonna 30c acutely and recommended that she repeat the Calcarea carbonica 200c when the acute otitis flareup was over. Belladonna is known to be needed as an acute remedy in many cases where the constitutional remedy is Calcarea carbonica , such as with Katy. However, it would have been just as correct in this case to have given the Calcarea directly without having given the Belladonna first, since the right-sided otitis is part of Katy’s constitutional picture.
Her mother’s report after three weeks: The ear infection resolved quickly from the Belladonna. After the second dose of Calcarea carbonica, the stuttering was again much improved, yet only for a few weeks.. Then her stuttering began to return. At this point we gave her one dose of Calcarea carbonica lM, since the 200c appeared to have only a short-lived effect. In cases where a remedy has worked, then seems to fizzle out quickly, it is best first to give the next higher potency. If this does not work, it is likely that the remedy is only close, and a different remedy will have a more long-lasting and deeper effect.
We didn’t hear from Katy’s mother until six months later. At that time she reported that it took a full nine weeks after the Calcarea carbonica 1M for the stuttering to disappear completely, but that it had never returned. Her speech was “infinitely better” and she was needing no speech therapy at all. An extensive workup on Katy’s speech before and after the homeopathic treatment confirmed the dramatic improvement. She had no recurrence of vaginal yeast, no longer sweated on her head, and didn’t want cold foods and drinks anymore. Popsicles had sat in the freezer for months untouched. Her mother was now sold on homeopathy. Now she was bringing Katy in for another bout of ear pain, this time bilateral. She had decided to come to us directly rather than try antibiotics. She had given Katy Belladonna on her own, with no improvement. On examination, there was erythema, worse in the left ear. We gave Katy’s mother one more dose of Calcarea carbonica to give, only in the case that the ear pain persisted. We anticipate this dose, if needed, should last at least six months.
This was a case where, although the primary complaint was stuttering, we did not emphasize stuttering in making the prescription, since Calcarea carbonica fit the essence, totality, and keynotes so well. However, here is some more useful information about other homeopathic remedies to consider for stuttering:
- Mercurius is considered a very important remedy for a stuttering which comes out of hesitancy. Often there is a trembling of the mouth and tongue. The person may feel quite agitated at being asked a question and become overly excited, hurried, and embarrassed. This may be associated with an overall hesitancy, lack of confidence, and shyness.
- Stramonium is more appropriate for a violent, choppy type of stammering, where the words seems to shoot out with harshness. The individual may have to exert him or herself a long time before uttering even a word. There may also be facial contortions, grimaces, and tics and a generally violent nature.
- Causticum is another common remedy for stammering after excitement or nervousness. This may be seen with hoarseness, chronic clearing of the throat, and twitches of the face, particularly of the right side. There may even be a paralysis of the vocal chords.
- Belladonna is used in rapid, interrupted speech,
- which may be accompanied by a kind of intoxication, and indistinct
- speech with difficulty breathing and great tiredness.
- Nux vomica is likely to be needed in a case of stuttering after overwork or overindulgence. There may be a considerable amount of irritability and frustration.
- Selenium can be useful for a kind of stammering where the person makes mistakes in talking, says the wrong syllables, and cannot articulate some words at all. This may be seen in Alzheimer’s.
- Aconite should be the first remedy to consider when a
- person is speechless from fright.
There is often little allopathic medicine has to offer in cases of stuttering. As you can see, homeopathy may be a very effective answer in such cases.
Dr. Judyth Reichenberg-Ullman and Dr. Robert Ullman are licensed naturopathic physicians and are board certified in homeopathy. They are President and Vice President of the International Foundation for Homeopathy where they teach homeopathy to licensed health care professionals. Their book, The Patient’s Guide to Homeopathic Medicine, is now available.