[Tinnitus Symptoms | See Your Doctor About Tinnitus]
[Homeopathic Remedies | Nutritional Supplements]
[References | My Personal Experience]
adapted with permission from the Consumer Guide by Dr. Bob Martin
Do you hear a
ringing noise in your ears that doesn't go away? This maddening noise,
called tinnitus, affects approximately 17% of the world's population. Many
people are so seriously bothered by tinnitus that living a normal life is
not possible. Tinnitus can interfere with concentration, work, sleep,
relaxation, normal communication with others, and tinnitus can lead to
psychological distress. There’s no known cure for tinnitus.
Your Doctor About Tinnitus
Remedies to Reduce Tinnitus
Calcarea carbonica (Calcium carbonate) relieves throbbing and cracking noises, stitches and pulsing sensations in the ears.
Cimicifuga racemose (Black Cohosh Root) is helpful for tinnitus symptoms, and for people who are very sensitive to noise, as well as pain and muscle tension in the neck and back.
Carbo vegetabilis (vegetable charcoal) – This natural remedy is for ringing in the ears, especially if it occurs during flu or other conditions involving vertigo and nausea.
China (Chinchona officinalis) (Peruvian bark) helps ringing in the ears and hearing sensitive to noise.
Chininum sulphuricum (sulphite of quinine) helps relieve violent ringing, buzzing, and roaring sounds that are loud enough to impair a person’s hearing.
Coffea cruda (unroasted coffee) is for people with tinnitus accompanied by extremely sensitive hearing and a buzzing feeling in the back of the head.
Graphites (plumbago) – This remedy is beneficial for tinnitus with associated hearing loss, and for hissing and clicking sounds in the ears.
Kali carbonicum (Potassium carbonate) is for tinnitus with ringing or roaring, accompanied by cracking noises and itching in the ears.
Lycopodium (club moss) is for a humming and roaring in the ears, along with impairment of hearing and sounds that seem to echo in the ears.
Natrum salicylicum (sodium salicylate) – This remedy is beneficial if ringing in the ears is like a low, dull hum, and for loss of hearing related to bone conduction, as well as nerve interference.
Salicylicum acidum (salicylic acid) – This remedy is indicated for tinnitus with very loud roaring or ringing sounds, which may be accompanied by some hearing loss. It may also be helpful if tinnitus has been caused by too much aspirin.
Supplements to Reduce Tinnitus
Vinpocetine is a derivative of vincamine, an extract of the periwinkle plant, and has been used in Germany to provide support during tinnitus symptoms. 1 Vinpocetine improves blood flow in the inner ear and brain, thereby increasing utilization of glucose and oxygen, and increasing production of brain cell ATP (ATP is the cellular energy molecule - adenosine tri phosphate). 2, 3 Research shows that vinpocetine is particularly protective in cases where fatty plaques clog the arteries that feed oxygen to the inner ear and brain. Vinpocetine have been widely researched and used for nutritional support for over 25 years for a variety of health benefits. It has been shown to be a cerebral metabolic enhancer and a selective cerebral vasodilator. 5 Vinpocetine has also been shown to reduce the cell death that normally occurs when a brain region is temporarily but severely deprived of blood flow. 6 This remarkable alkaloid has proven specific benefits for people suffering ill hearing effects from antibiotics. The antibiotics used typically for staph and strep infections are ototoxic (harmful to hearing). Vinpocetine has been found to help prevent some of the antibiotics’ ototoxicity. 7 Vinpocetine reduces vascular resistance in the inner ear and brain, so that red blood cells are better able to pass through narrow passages. Better blood flow equals better oxygen delivery.
Ginkgo Biloba is a powerful herbal extract with numerous health benefits. Two studies have found an extract of ginkgo standardized to contain 24% flavone glycosides and 6% terpene lactones useful for people with ear concerns. 8, 9, 10 Ginkgo is a powerful herbal extract that may increase the circulation of blood to the ears. Ginkgo has antioxidant activity, improves arterial blood flow and enhances cellular metabolism. It is known for its age-defying properties which may support healthy hearing function. Ginkgo biloba leaves have been used by the Chinese for centuries for health purposes. Two studies demonstrated that Ginkgo is supportive for people with tinnitus concerns. 11, 12 Furthermore, a follow-up study of 137 of the original group of elderly patients 5 years later revealed that Ginkgo was still beneficial. 13
Ipriflavone is a soy-derived isoflavone (bioflavonoid), but unlike other soy isoflavones, it has no estrogenic or other hormonal activity. In one double-blind study with ipriflavone, researchers found that it was very beneficial for people with certain ear concerns. 14 Ipriflavone is a nutrient-partitioning agent, which means that it moves nutrients into building muscle and bone and away from being stored as fat.
Arginine is an amino acid that increases nitric oxide (NO), an important neurotransmitter. A team of scientists made breakthrough discoveries regarding the effects of nitric oxide during the mid-1990’s and in 1998 they were awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology of Medicine. Arginine works by stimulating the release of nitric oxide which causes vasodilation (dilates blood vessels), improving blood flow, and it also protects the ear by scavenging free radicals. 15 , 16, 17
Alpha Lipoic Acid – Alpha lipoic acid has shown dramatic effects in providing support for hearing concerns by taking an antibiotic. At the Hearing Research Laboratories at Duke University, in Durham, North Carolina, researchers investigated what positive effect lipoic acid could have on aminoglycoside (a class of antibiotics) induced damage to cochlear tissue of the ear. 18 Lipoic acid-protected animals did not have part of their hearing impaired compared with animals receiving the damaging antibiotic alone. The researchers thought that lipoic acid was particularly well suited to protect the ear because it is widely distributed in both aqueous and lipid tissues after administration. In addition, it crosses the blood-brain barrier quite readily, has low toxicity, and has excellent uptake in neural tissue. 19 Furthermore, lipoic acid is delivered to both the intra- and extra-cellular environment. 20 Given the positive safety profile of lipoic acid and the promise of a significant degree of auditory protection, it makes good sense to add lipoic acid to your supplement program.
Zinc is involved in a wide array of functions, including helping to maintain healthy cell membranes and protecting cells from oxygen-related damage. Some parts of the body have much higher concentrations of certain vitamins and minerals than other parts. That’s the case with inner ear, which, like the retina of the eye, has a higher concentration of zinc. That finding has led some doctors to believe that zinc deficiency may play a role in inner ear concerns. 21, 22, 23 “We don’t know much about how zinc works in the inner ear, but it’s evident that the cochlea needs zinc to function properly,” explains George E. Shambaugh, Jr., M.D. professor emeritus of otolaryngology and head and neck surgery at Northwestern University Medical School in Chicago. “Animals fed a diet low in zinc partially lose hearing function, and apparently, even the kind of marginal zinc deficiency often seen in older people causes greater hearing concerns associated with ear damage from noise or aging.” Dr. Shambaugh estimates that about 25% of the people he sees with severe tinnitus are zinc-deficient.
Vitamin A – Like zinc, Vitamin A is found in high concentrations in the cochlea. “All special sensory receptor cells, including the retina of the eye and the hair cells of the inner ear, depend upon Vitamin A and zinc to function properly,” Dr. Shambaugh says. In one study, low blood levels of Vitamin A were associated with hearing concerns. 24 Animal studies have demonstrated degenerative changes in the ganglion cells on a Vitamin A-deficient diet. And in several studies, people with tinnitus concerns reported substantial health benefits from Vitamin A supplements.
N-Acetylcysteine (NAC) – Some practitioners suggest taking N-acetyl cysteine because it is a major glutathione precursor. Glutathione has antioxidant activity and may promote healthy hearing function, and is crucial in possibly protecting against free radical damage.
Magnesium has been found to be protective to hearing function from exposure to noise. 25 Low magnesium levels can cause blood vessels, including the tiny arteries going to the inner ears, to constrict, and when combined with noise exposure, can deplete the delicate hearing cells in the inner ear of it’s energy stores, leading to exhaustion, damage and death of these critical cells. Noise-induced vasospasm (constriction of the arteries) is thought to play a role in tinnitus.
Melatonin – Researchers at the Ear Research Foundation in Sarasota, Florida performed a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study evaluating the role of supplemental melatonin for people with tinnitus concerns. They discovered that 47% of those on melatonin had an improvement compared to 20% of those on placebo. 26
Chinese Herbs – For 5,000 years the Chinese have known that a balanced, harmonious body is necessary for optimal health and a zest for life. Ancient Chinese physicians and temple priests studied nature over thousands of years discovering how to interact with it, and to cultivate and guide life’s sustaining force. Their desire was to create harmony and order in the body, and to provide the body with the proper nutrition it needs to heal and regenerate itself. Their wisdom taught that a balanced body suffers from fewer problems and sustains more energy and alertness. They also discovered that supplementing the diet with natural herbal nutrition was one of the best means of nourishing the body so that an internal balance can be achieved.
Folic Acid is a B vitamin that is involved in every bodily function that requires cell division. It is used to generate red blood cells, help wounds heal, build muscle, and produce brain and nervous system chemicals. Folic acid appears to regulate the body’s production and use of homocysteine, an amino acid-like compound that in excess amounts can contribute to the buildup of dangerous plaque in the blood vessels. A Dutch study has recently shown that by lowering blood levels of homocysteine and improving the ability of the blood vessels to dilate, folic acid may reduce cardiovascular risk in those with a family history of high cholesterol. Because the body can’t retain this water-soluble vitamin for long – any excess is excreted in the urine – many people have a folic acid deficiency.
Vitamin B-12 – Maintenance of blood and nerve function depends on this important vitamin. According to a 1999 study, auditory dysfunction is associated with deficiencies in vitamins B-12 and folic acid, nutrients that promote healthy nerve function and circulation. 27 Another study has shown a definite connection between vitamin B-12 deficiency and hearing concerns. 28 A large study involving 522 patients showed that administering vitamin B-12 along with oxygenation at high pressure to people with hearing concerns, gave many people beneficial results. 29
Vitamin B-6 – Day by day, there’s probably no nutrient as actively involved in keeping your system running smoothly as vitamin B6. It functions primarily as a coenzyme, working along with other enzymes to speed up chemical reactions in cells. A deficiency of vitamin B6 can cause anemia, dermatitis, and nervous system problems. Incredibly, government surveys indicate that one-third of adults are deficient in this key nutrient. One of the causes of tinnitus may be nerve malfunction in the brain. Because Vitamin B6 positively affects the nervous system, it may improve the health of the nerves leading to the inner ear and thus minimize the discomforts of tinnitus. Vitamin B6 may be of use in treating chronic dizziness caused by a nerve disorder or decreased blood flow to the brain or inner ear.
Niacin (Vitamin B3) helps increase blood flow by relaxing and widening the blood vessels.
Garlic – Probably more research has been done (and more articles written) about garlic than any other herb. Worldwide, research is ongoing about the role that garlic may play in maintaining blood cholesterol, protecting against fatty plaques that clog the arteries, maintaining blood pressure, and stimulating the immune system. Garlic thus provides support for hearing function.
This article is
adapted from the Consumer Guide by Dr. Bob Martin and reprinted with exclusive permission from Natural Care.
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