Tinnitus or ringing in the ears is no fun. It can disrupt sleep cycles, interfere with thought processes, make it hard to understand conversations, and raise stress levels. While there are treatments for ringing in the ears and in many cases the ear problem will clear up on its own, often in chronic ongoing cases no cure can be found. Possible treatments for tinnitus include, herbal supplements, vitamins, minerals, and lifestyle changes. While there is no definite cure, using one or more of these tinnitus treatments may help to relieve the symptoms. Before starting any new supplements, a doctor should be consulted and the ears checked for possible infections or blockage.
Supplements that help to improve blood flow to the brain and ear, may help with hearing problems due to their effects on the anatomy of the ear. Ginkgo biloba has been shown to help with circulatory disorders of the brain. According to a study conducted in 2002 and sited in the "International Journal of Clinical Pharmacology and Therapeutics" patients having chronic tinnitus treated with ginkgo showed a reduction in noise volume and decreased hearing loss. Ginkgo is listed as an alternative medicine for the treatment of tinnitus by the Mayo Clinic with some research showing doses of from 120 to 240 mg daily, given over 4 to 6 weeks, helping tinnitus patients. Black Cohosh, another herb that acts to increase peripheral blood flow, may also help to relieve ringing in the ears. Meniere's disease which causes tinnitus often responds to vasodilator medications such as Black Cohosh. Women who are pregnant should not take black cohosh as it can stimulate uterine contractions. Lipoflavanoid which is combination of the vitamins C, B6, B12, calcium, niacin, thiamine, riboflavin, plus the antioxidant bioflavonoid is reported to help relieve ringing in the ears.
The herb Rehmannia has been used in traditional Chinese medicine for treating tinnitus and hearing loss. Studies have shown that the high levels of antioxidants in rehmannia may play a role in auditory cell health. A 2006 study published by the "Journal of Ethnopharmacology" found that rehmannia extract could have a protective effect on auditory cells by increasing the levels of antioxidants in those cells. Other herbs that have been used to relieve the symptoms of tinnitus include, Mullein, extracts of Hemlock, Chenopodium, and St. John's Wort. Mullein, sold as either a tea or tincture, taken in doses of from 3 to 4 grams daily, is reported to help with tinnitus. A non-toxic extract of hemlock, Conium 30 CH is often sited as a remedy for certain forms of tinnitus such as that occurring in older patients. The herb Chenopodium 30 CH is said to help with ringing in the ears that occurs in rhythm with the heartbeat or is due to infections. An extract of the herb St. John's Wort, hypericin, has been found to useful for treating intractable tinnitus. The American Tinnitus Association journal published an article in 2002 about the use of hypericin in treating tinnitus. The study showed that some 68% of patients dosed with 0.2mg of hypericin for a period of one year had a definite decrease of the ringing in their ears. Before starting any herb or homeopathic remedy consult with your doctor about possible side effects and dangers.
Certain vitamin and mineral deficiencies can cause ringing in the ears. According to the "American Journal of Otolaryngology" a deficiency of the vitamin B12 can cause tinnitus and hearing loss. Taking vitamin B12 supplements in the form of injections, orally, or increasing the dietary levels of it, may help with tinnitus. People often lose the ability to absorb vitamin B12 through the intestines as they get older and this is the biggest cause of the vitamin deficiency. Eating foods high in B12 such as eggs, cheeses, and meats, or taking regular B12 pills, will not help if this is the case. There are forms of B12, liquid drops and sublingual pills, that can be absorbed through the lining of the mouth. B12 plays an important role in the health of nervous system tissue and this may be the reason it helps with tinnitus. The mineral Zinc has been found to help with ringing in the ears possibly because it can act as an antioxidant in the body. A study carried out in Japan and published in 1997, cited that tinnitus suffers given approx. 50mg of zinc daily for a period of 2 weeks, showed a definite improvement in their tinnitus symptoms. Researchers at the Ankara Numune Research and Education Hospital carried out a study in 2003 based on giving tinnitus patients zinc supplements. After 2 months of taking 50mg of zinc daily, tests showed that 46% found their tinnitus had decreased significantly. Magnesium is another essential mineral that is recommended for tinnitus sufferers. For adults the daily recommended amount of Magnesium is 320 to 420mg daily. It is believed that magnesium acts to stop the production of the neurotransmitter glutamate and by doing so, it protects the nerves of the inner ear.
There are also medicines and supplements, that can actually cause tinnitus. Aspirin and aspirin like supplements such as meadowbark, willow bark, and wintergreen have been shown to cause ringing in the ears. Cinchona, uva ursi, and black haw are also known causes of tinnitus. Some antibiotics, anti-diabetes, and anti-cancer drugs are known to cause deficiencies in the B vitamins which can lead to tinnitus. The major causes of tinnitus are damage to the inner ear due to over exposure to loud noises and high pitch noises. It is important to wear adequate ear protection in areas where loud noises are a problem. Sound delivery systems such as headphones and ear plugs should be used with caution and volume levels should be kept low. Besides avoiding loud noises, sufferers of tinnitus should cut back or curtail their use of caffeine, nicotine and alcohol as these can increase the problem.
Lifestyle changes can help with tinnitus symptoms. Stress reduction and avoidance should be a daily goal with relaxation therapy and stress relieving exercises being used. Getting enough sleep every night is a great stress reducer. The use of a white noise machine, calming musics, or the simple humming of a fan, can all help when falling to sleep is hard. If head congestion is a problem then raising the head of the bed so as to sleep in an inclined position can help.
It is important to realize that the sudden occurance of tinnitus can be a sign of other major disorders and if left untreated can lead to a loss of hearing and other complications. A hearing specialist should be consulted to find the cause if possible and to rule out complications such as infections, brain tumors, and bone disorders. Unfortunitely the causes of tinnitus are often never found.