Wednesday, July 16, 2014

If you stutter: Has thiamine (vitamin B1), with or without magnesium, helped dramatically?

This blog has on various occasions (check out this post as well as the FAQ on thiamine and magnesium as a treatment for stuttering) focused on the use of thiamine (vitamin B1), with or without magnesium, to alleviate stuttering. According to a study, about 1/3 of people who stutter seem to benefit from either thiamine or thiamine together with magnesium.

Following this study there have been anecdotal reports, in Facebook stuttering groups as well as blogs, from some people who stutter that their fluency, or that of their stuttering child, has indeed benefited permanently from these supplements, sometimes dramatically so.

It could be helpful to collect information from these lucky individuals on the successful use of the supplements, and those who are benefiting PERMANENTLY are therefore invited to relate their experience with thiamine, with or without magnesium, as a comment below this post. This is in no way intended as a "scientific" study; it is simply a gathering of rough anecdotal information, which could however result in more serious studies.

The requirement of "permanent benefit" is important in order to minimise any possible "placebo" effects from the supplements. (A placebo effect is a positive effect resulting not from the supplement or medicine as such, but from self-suggestion; it often happens that people get or feel better just because of a hopeful, positive state of mind induced by taking a pill for their problem, even if the pill itself contains no active ingredients.)

Your comment can be any length, and feel free to provide anonymous feedback, though it would obviously carry more weight if real names are used.

Please note: the comments below are exclusively for POSITIVE feedback on thiamine/magnesium usage - other comments should please be placed below other relevant posts (such as the thiamine/magnesium FAQ post). Non-thiamine/magnesium-related comments will unfortunately have to be deleted.

If possible it would be most helpful if you could provide information in particular on the following:

1) For how long you have been on the supplements, and whether you are still taking them.

2) When you began to experience an improvement in fluency (e.g. immediately since taking the supplements, or after a few days or weeks?) 

3) Details of the supplements you are taking: e.g. the type of thiamine and/or magnesium taken (e.g. thiamine hydrochloride, magnesium orotate), brand, dosage (mg per day) and the daily intake spread (for instance, taken three times a day?).

4) Does the positive effect stop when you stop taking the supplements?

5) Is the positive effect dramatic / significant? Provide a figure on a scale of one to five, where 1 = "Very slight improvement", 2 = "Definite improvement, but not dramatic", 3 = "Significant improvement / life is certainly easier", 4 = "Major improvement, but not cured" and 5 = "Total fluency / cured".

6) Would you say that the positive effect is due to lower stress levels resulting from the supplements, or do you think that something else is causing the improved fluency?

7) If possible, provide details of age, gender and weight. (Optional! I know these are sensitive questions - don't worry about them lol - but they are relevant...)

8) If you are taking both thiamine and magnesium, did the positive effect occur only after you added the magnesium?

9) If stuttering children are involved - keep in mind that about 3/4 of young children anyway outgrow stuttering, so any improvement may be due to outgrowing the disorder. Also keep in mind that the fluency of children can vary considerably. They can have "good periods" that can last for days, weeks or even months - probably due to the ebb and flow of general stress levels - so keep that in mind before deciding that your child's fluency is really the result of taking a supplement.  

Looking forward to receiving your input, which could be very important for future research, and thanking you in anticipation! Feel free to also participate in the informal poll which you will find at the end of this older post.      


  1. For some horrible unknown technical reason, all the comments here have simply vanished!!! :-( And this is not the first time something like this has happened in Blogger. It just shows the limitations of the internet... But Blogger is free of charge, so it's difficult to complain to Google ...

    1. I suggest you take a copy from the comments before occuring the same problem again, because they are very useful for the new guests.

    2. You are right - in fact I did make a copy some time ago ... it's not up to date, but I will place it here this afternoon. At least it's better than nothing. But from now on I will monitor these comments regularly. Thanks for your suggestion!

  2. Dear Peter Louw,
    Do you have a facebook account?

    1. Feel free to join "The Passive Airflow Approach to Stuttering" Facebook group of which I am the admin. You will find it here: My own Facebook account is only for family and close friends.

    2. Thanks brother, I am following your page.

    3. Also note that I have started another Facebook group which focuses more on the psychology behind stuttering:

  3. Though many of the comments received up to now have vanished into cyberspace, I have made copies of some of them and will re-add them. Here is the first one:

    I I have permission from Rachel Lavin from the UK to publish her following comments which she placed on the Facebook page of the British Stammering Association on 26 July 2014:

    "Hi, my son is now 11 but he was 10 at Easter when I started him on 100mg of thiamine hydrochloride and 100mg of magnesium glycinate over the day (50mg of each with breakfast and tea). Within 48 hours of taking them there was a noticeable improvement. I researched for a few weeks and consulted the doctor (although all he said was that he couldn't say it was ok). We didn't tell him what the new vitamins were for so that if there was an improvement it wasn't placebo. Read as much as you can about it and make sure you get the b1 hcl. The article says glycinate is best form of magnesium.

    "B1 hcl 100mg off eBay (cut them in half) and magnesium glycinate off the web too in 100mg tabs that break in half.

    "Google b1 hcl and magnesium and stammering. The info on the trial gives a great deal more detail than I can on Facebook. I read everything I could and with my husband made a decision after consulting the doctor that it was worth a try, and for our son it has been.

    "I'm not recommending it, I suggest that anyone who wants to try it research as much as possible so that they can make an informed decision as to whether to go ahead or not. It's a personal decision."

  4. Another recovered comment after these comments crashed some time at the end of 2016:

    This message was received from Anonymous, a UK mother, a week or so ago via Facebook:

    My son is 8, he has stammered since he was approx 4 or 5 years old.
    He has a severe stammer and receives Government funded Speech and Language therapy support In blocks of 8 -10 weeks with breaks of 12 weeks (System is based on demand for services, not individual child. Ie the break is to allow another child to attend )
    I read about B1 & magnesium on the group 'that's easy for you to say'
    I am generally upfront and honest but I really didn't want my son to know he was taking medicine with regards to 'fixing' his speech as all our interventions as parents have been around building his self esteem and being accepting of his stammering speech so I really didn't want to introduce something that was saying his speech needed improving. We talk about speech therapy as being there to talk about bumpy speech and what he thinks about it
    Anyhow, I tried him on tablets but he spat them out. So I bought a liquid vitamin B - complex by Natures Answer, it includes all the b vitamins and also Florodix magnesium.
    I told my son this medicine was to help build his muscles up stronger.
    Within 4 days of taking 10 ml of each I could hear an improvement in his speech. He was able to talk without stuttering on every word. At the end of the week my parents collected him from school with his sister and they noticed a marked improvement in his speech. This would have been at 6 days of taking it. I hadn't toldyvparents as I wanted to see if they noticed a change and they did and mentioned it to me the next day without any prompt or knowledge of the treatment.
    He has been taking it for approx 3 weeks now and he is definitely way more fluid on his talking. What is brilliant for me, is that he is growing in confidence and actually chatting. Previously he used as few words as possible.
    He is still stuttering and would prob sit around a medium mark of fluency but for us it feels miraculous.
    I'm happy to answer any questions.

  5. Herewith a copy of Ms Foley's message which I have recovered after her comment vanished into cyberspace in 2016:

    Jacqueline Foley is the third parent in the UK whose child's speech is being helped by the thiamine / magnesium regimen and who has given me permission to add her feedback. She, too, has been commenting on the British Stammering Association Group on Facebook on 26 July 2014:

    "We are having amazing results with the Vit B1. and magnesium, we started about four months ago. My son was three and had a horrendous stammer for approx. 8 months, we had started Lidcombe Therapy, it wasn't working for us, but I am certainly not knocking it, as I know it has been wonderful for many. I stumbled across the report on B1 and we were so desperate, I would advise you to speak to your doctor, ensure there are no contraindications, our doc. just said, 'go for it' , we tried two weeks B1 on it's own with no change whatsoever, we were going to leave it at that, but I ordered the magnesium off the internet, within days of adding it, the improvement I can only describe as miraculous. Sam went from hitting his face in frustration, 'growling' and shouting words out, pulling my face to his in an attempt to almost get me to help make the words come out of his mouth, he really was in a desperate state, to practically no stammer at all, now four months on there is no single sign of a stammer whatsoever. My mother even rings from Ireland in the evening to chat just to hear his little voice chatter in the background. Apparently, it may help 1 in 3 people. We got complacent on holiday in Greece recently and missed a few doses and heard the stammer creep back, we have no doubt, it's the B1 that's helping him. Good luck if you try. x"

  6. And another recovered comment from Ms. Foley:

    On 15 April 2014, Jacqueline wrote an earlier Facebook message in which she gave more details:

    "Ok, I am not suggesting anyone else goes out and does this but I am giving you an update on my 3 1/2 year old sons stammer which he has had roughly for 10 months now. It was quite dreadful, we have been doing Lidcombe Technique for a few months which I like, but I believe we have not seen any results yet as it is too early, there have been no other major changes in Samuels life other than we started to give him 2 x 25mg Thiamin tablets daily (after I read an interesting post by Peter Louw and having a chat with Sams GP) We did this daily for two weeks with no change then added magnesium and saw an immediate difference. The difference is immense. At first Samuel was happy to take the tablets then decided he didn't want to so we tried dissolving them in his juice, but his stammer returned and after doing an experiment we realised they weren't dissolving. My mum then came to stay and she started putting the tablets into one of those Muller Yogurts where you mix in one side of chocolate balls or fruit or whatever and he has been gulping them down and yup the stammer has improved hugely again !! It has not completely gone but the improvement is huge. I explained what we had done to his Speech and Language Therapist this morning after she commented what a wonderful improvement there had been and she said it could just be a coincidence but she would do a little research on Thiamin as she had not heard of it. I am very happy with the improvement as it was getting to a stage where it was actually painful to watch him hit himself whilst trying to get words out and contorting his little face, blocking and switching words. So like the Therapist said it could possibly all be a remarkable co-incidence, but given the fact that we've stopped whilst trying to find a new way to administer the Vit. B1 and it returned I know what I think it is. I will keep you updated as I am acutely aware that young childrens stammers can chop and change and we may possibly just be going through a very good patch.

    "The magnesium we are using is 2 x 50mg capsules per day, we cut the capsules and pour the contents into a yogurt or drink as these seem to be dissolvable unlike the Vit. B1. he's too young to swallow the capsules. They look pretty large.

    " I got the Vit B1 from Holland and Barratt, they had a couple of different types but I got the Thiamin Hydrochloride, I got the Magnesium off the internet as Holland and Barratt didn't have the right ones, I took both into our doctors and showed her along with the article, she just said go for it. You must speak to your doctor in case they contraindicate with any drugs your child is already taking.

    "We give him one b1 tab in the morning along with the magnesium and then another b1 in the afternoon with magnesium. It would be great if your child just swallowed the tablets, my boy won't, so the difficult part for us is finding food to hide it in, also they taste yucky crushed . Good luck, it's worth a try. Don't pin your hopes on it. I don't quite know how it works, it seems to relax the child somehow. So even if it fails for you, maybe you could think of other things along those lines. Just a thought . X"

  7. Herewith a recovered comment from E. Dailey:

    Way back in 1972 Carlton Fredricks in his book Eating Right For you has a brief one line statement something like people who stutter often benefit from taking extra vitamin B1. In 1980 I tried taking 100 mg of B1 once a day and did notice it did help my stuttering some for a couple of hours but it wasn't realy worth the bother. I tried this again about 4 years ago but at the time I was drinking 6 to 8 cups of coffee a day and taking a lot of fish oil. Fish oil can make some of us stutter more and coffee depleats our B1 and magnesium. so it didn't help me much. But about 8 months after stoping my 8 cups of coffee a day and all that fish oil i gave this another try. In about 3 or 4 days I noticed a marked decline in my stuttering and by 4 to 6 weeks I was blocking about 85% less. At about the 3 month mark I started working on some of my negative fealings about stutering and doing a little advertizing and this has helped me get rid of most of my remaining stutering. But if I skip the B1 for a day or 2 well part of my stuttering comes back.

    One additional comment. I have seen a few people comment " I already take a multivitamin " well taking a high potency multivitamine did not help me at all. It's taking the B1 and magnesium by itself 3 times a day that helps me.

  8. Recovered comment from Suha Ahmad from 2014 which also appeared in the Stuttering Community Facebook group:

    "I founded in Arabic source in the net, a lady was talking about her daughter experience with stuttering, she said that by using molasses her daughter fully recovered,,, also before nearly a week someone in this group , Sujan Mia, said that in his country Bangladesh , they used to use molasses to the children who stutter."

    [Note from Peter Louw: I wrote a separate post on molasses and stuttering, based on these comments. You can read the post here on this blog: ]

  9. One more recovered comment:

    Hi. I have been a stutterer all my life. My personality and looks got me by. I read about B1 with HCI and it worked immediately. I an a 5 which means I don't stutter at all now. Thank God!!! I have been on it for about 8 mos. I don't even need to take 3 times a day. If I take only once a day, I start to stutter again. I take at least 2 a day. I have always took magnesium for my RS so that may be helping too. If you haven't tried it, do. It will change your life if it works for you. Im so happy now! !

  10. From Silvana I received the following comment within the thiamine FAQ post, so I am pasting it here:

    Silvana, January 4, 2017 at 3:17 PM

    My son is 6 years old, a very severe stuttering. We started with 50 mg of thiamine in two daily doses and 50 mg of magnesium. There was a slight improvement but no significant changes. Suspending the treatment and the blockages increase a lot. We resumed treatment with 100 mg of thiamine in two daily doses (50 before lunch and 50 before dinner) and 50 mg of magnesium (25mg and 25mg).

    While the repetitions continue, the blockages decreased a lot.
    There is a noticeable improvement. Now we are trying to contact in Argentina doctors willing to control my son in his levels of vitamin. As a mother I am afraid to give her such high doses of vitamins but at the same time I notice her more leisurely in her speech and can communicate more comfortably. Almost two months of b1 have passed. The change is not dramatic but it is an important change. He can now say complete sentences without stuttering.

  11. And I responded as follows within that post:

    Hi Silvana, I am very pleased that it is helping! Yes, stopping the treatment does seem to make it worse for some - I have myself stopped the B1 several times, and each time my fluency deteriorated markedly. As you say, one has to balance the risks of a high dose of B1 with the risks of stuttering. But as B1 is water-soluble, the risks apparently are minimal or non-existent as any surplus is excreted through the urine. I do hope that the improvement will continue! Keep in mind that as your son gets older, the dosage can be increased. Actually I see that the magnesium RDA for children aged 4 - 8 is 130 mg per day, so you can consider increasing the magnesium dosage now. Also, maybe it's better to give the supplements AFTER lunch and dinner, and not BEFORE? Medicines and supplements are usually taken after or during a meal, as this makes digestion easier. Best of luck and keep us posted on how he is doing!

    1. Dear Peter, I have watched your 3 videos on youtube till now. I have mild - moderate stuttering, moderate being in public speeches/presentations but I avoid them altogether. I am noticing difference in speech already by following your advice in your videos. I am not sure if I would benefit from thiamin or not. I used to take only vitamin B complex and even that on alternate days but for a different reason. I do not take them now. I never noticed any difference in my speech then but then I used to take very small amount of vitamin B complex, not only B1. You think, there might be placebo affect involved in this if an adult notices a difference? Of course, placebo may not be relevant in children. I am in my 40s; how much thiamin (B1) do you recommend for adults and does Magnesium (what type) have to be taken as well (and how much)? I read Dr. Martin Schwartz recommends taking magnesium as well so as not to experience any Magnesium deficiency? In one of your blogs, you recommended not to take tea/coffee but I noticed in someone's earlier posts that she gave supplements to her son with tea and it still worked. Thanks and Regards.

    2. Dear Madni - Dr Martin Schwartz who developed the B1 protocol recommends 300 mgs of B1 (thiamine - the hydrochloride version) per day for adults. Tea and coffee are definitely not recommended in the thiamine protocol as these substances deplete the B1 in our bodies. The B Complex tablets only contain very small amounts of B1 so that would probably not be sufficient for our purposes. You are correct that the placebo effect is huge, so that's a tricky factor - only time will tell if the B1 effect is only a placebo effect for an individual. Dr Schwartz recommended additional age-appropriate tablets of magnesium (preferably the glycinate version) and this could make a difference. Note that the B1 protocol includes a dietary regimen, because various substances and drinks reduce the B1 in the body such as sushi and other raw fish, alcohol and sugars. Still, only a minority seem to benefit from the B1 protocol to a more or lesser extent. For more information have a look at the FAQ on thiamine in this blog. Best of luck!

  12. The following appeared in Casa Futura's May 2018 newsletter:

    A 9-Year-Old's Experience with Vitamin B-1
    My name is Laura and I am the very proud mom of a beautiful 9 year old boy who has been stuttering since he was 3. We were fortunate to be within a 45 minute drive of one of the best fluency specialists in the country who we started seeing when my son was 4.5. Despite all of our efforts the tools he was learning in treatment seemed very difficult for him to implement. When he was 6 we decided to try the vitamin protocol developed by Martin Schwartz, Ph.D., based on the Hale study. Having been down a naturopathic path with my older daughter I was not as nervous as some mom’s might be to give the vitamins a try.

    We started Braeden who was about 65lbs at the time on 50mg of B1 2x a day and 120mg of Magnesium glycinate 2x a day. Within 5 days he was probably 80% more fluent. Over the years we have taken him on and off to see if he had “grown out of it” or if his brain has learned to be fluent now and the disfluency always returns when he has gone off. We have had to go up in in his dosage over the years. Braeden is very tall and muscular for his age and is now 110lb. We now give him 200mg of B1 3x per day and 120mg of Magnesium Glycinate 3x per day. I went the extra mile to make sure all of this was safe through the nutrition department at Boston Children’s Hospital and long story short because the vitamins are water soluble I’ve been reassured that my son’s body will excrete what he doesn’t need.

    My son is now able to utilize his speech tools. His speech is not perfect but it is markedly better. He is still in speech therapy and we practice using his tools daily but without the vitamins he cannot make use of these tools.

  13. I have stuttered for 34 years(all of my life.) I have been taking B1 and Magnesium for a little over a week. I have noticed some improvements but not a complete absence of stuttering. (Caffiene makes it worse).I read that most results are shown after 2 weeks. Should I expect more results?
    After what dosage should I not expect any more results when increasing my dosage?
    Also, I am in a regimen of supplements are there any supplements that counter act the effects of B1/Magnesium?
    Thank you.

    1. Hi Donnie, sorry for responding so late, I only now saw your questions. I guess that after so many months you will know whether this regimen is working for you. Regarding your second question - I know that some people are exceeding the recommended dosage of 300 mg of B1 daily, but I would first advise that you consult your doctor before exceeding the recommended dosage of 300 mg. Actually I'm not an expert on pharmaceuticals so I can't answer your last question - you should ask your pharmacist or doctor. By the way, I've switched over to "mindbody" healing for stuttering which works much better ... read the last posts on this blog and consider joining my new Facebook group, "Stuttering as a mindbody disorder". Best wishes!

  14. Is this a treatment worth trying for my 19 year old daughter? I read the protocol is for adult males only. And what, if any, food and beverages need to be eliminated for the vitamins to work properly?

    1. Hello jmfisher - I am sure she can try it, it's not just for adult males. The tests were done with adult males, but the implications are that it can potentially help others too. But only a minority find it helpful, so don't get your hopes up. Do read the FAQ on this page - for instance, first get the OK from your doctor. Try it for a month and then stop if there is no change. The most important foods and drinks to be avoided during the test period are caffeine, sugar, sugary drinks and raw fish such as sushi. Best of luck!

  15. Posting a comment because magnesium plus vitamin B1 helped me tremendously. I wish I had found out about this sooner (no speech therapist ever mentioned it, and I have seen plenty).

    As background, I am 30, female, and have been stuttering since I was very young. My stutter is well controlled in non-stressful situations (talking with my husband, with friends)—it is always on my mind but I cope by self-calming and circumlocution. I have a severe stutter saying my name, introducing other people, at work, and giving presentations (i.e. when it counts!).

    I started taking magnesium threonate because I read it could help with anxiety and falling asleep. After a few days of taking it, I noticed my stutter was significantly improved. Still there, but much easier to overcome. Simply, less of a block. I looked up a possible connection and came upon this study, so I tried adding vitamin B1. 500 mg of B1 made my stutter come back, worse than before. I switched to a combination supplement with 10 mg thiamin HCl, which helped even more than the Mg alone. I currently take the 10 mg B1 and 100 mg Magnesium threonate per day (at once with breakfast). This combination gets me to a point where I stutter a little bit but it is largely under control. I may continue to try to optimize the dose.

    Other notes are that pseudoephedrine (found in some cold and allergy medications) makes my stutter worse. Alcohol reduces my stutter in the short term but then my stutter is worse the following day. I have not noticed a difference with a small amount of caffeine (1-2 cups of coffee per day).

    1. Hi Laura, it's great that you find this helpful! Many thanks for your feedback, much appreciated. Yes, magnesium is supposed to be a relaxant and is often prescribed by doctors for muscle cramps, so I guess it would help to reduce the tension in the muscles of the larynx, which would improve fluency. Thanks again, and keep us posted!

  16. Hi, my daughter is 12 and weighs abt 45kg and has really bad blocks, what dosage of thiamine can i start her on?

    1. This is really a difficult question as I'm not a doctor nor a pharmacist ... I would strongly recommend that you ask your doctor. Dr Martin Schwartz, who did this research but who is not a medical doctor, said that for a 12-year-old, 40% of the adult dosage of 300 mg per day would be OK. 40% of 300 = 120 mg. But Dr Schwartz was rather conservative. Ask your doctor if a higher dose would be safe. Don't forget the magnesium, as mentioned in the FAQ in this blog. You might also want to look at her stress levels, any stressors in her life, and diet. Try to avoid caffeine and sugary foods and drinks for her. Regarding stressors - she is probably a HSC (Highly Sensitive Child) and you might want to do the online test, and read Dr Elaine Aron's book on sensitive children ... I have recently written a second book on stuttering which will appear within weeks, and you might want to read it, it will be advertised on this blog. I strongly suspect that stuttering is psychosomatic and that it is driven by repressed, bottled-up unaware emotions such as anger, fear, uncertainty etc. I hope this will help!