If you've ever had a ringing in your ears, you have an idea of how annoying it can be. Now imagine how annoying it would be if you never could get rid of the ringing. That is tinnitus.
Tinnitus is the medical term for hearing a sound when there is no external sound causing it. And it's remarkably common – about one-third of people over 55 suffer from it. But it doesn't just affect that age group. It can hit anyone, and it can affect either or both ears.
Fortunately, there are ways to get rid of the ringing naturally. But first, you have to look for a cause. And there are scores of possible causes, including neck or jaw disorders called temporomandibular joint disorders (TMJ). This can cause tinnitus because of its effect on muscles and nerves near the ear.
Significant earwax buildup can make it even more severe. It could be a complication of a head tumor. And it may even be a side effect of medications. Drugs that list it as a side effect include aspirin, NSAIDs, antidepressants, antimalarials, diuretics, beta-blockers, and antibiotics. So if you suffer from tinnitus, start by looking at the side effects of the medication you're taking. Finding a solution could be that simple.
Exposure to loud noises is a leading cause of tinnitus. In fact, 90% of all tinnitus patients have some level of noise-induced hearing loss. Loud noises harm the tiny hair cells in the inner ear, causing irreversible damage. And repeated exposure can have a cumulative effect on hearing. If you have to raise your voice before others can hear you, the noise around you is too loud. But a lot of people live and work in loud situations, but never suffer from tinnitus. So it’s not a given that loud noises will cause it.
Another possible cause is personal medical problems, which can lead to the ringing. Some of the medical conditions that can cause ear noises include high blood pressure, high triglycerides, tumors, anemia, hypothyroidism, various ear diseases, and high blood cholesterol (which can clog the arteries that supply oxygen to the nerves of the inner ear).
All of these possible causes means that you have to try to figure out what’s causing the ringing. Then you have to match the treatment to the cause. That means there are a lot of possible treatments that can help.
Treatments Your Doctor Might Not Consider
If you go to a conventional doctor, it’s highly unlikely they will tell you about any of these treatments.
Again, you have to start with the cause. What most people don’t realize is that problems with your upper cervical spine can cause hearing loss and other ear ailments, including tinnitus. These are called “vertebragenic” hearing disorders. And they’re fairly common.
In fact, many years ago, researchers reviewed the medical findings of 259 patients. All of these patients had well-defined upper cervical spine problems and cervical vertigo. Cervical vertigo is dizziness caused by a particular head posture.
The researchers found that their spine issue created subjective hearing problems in 15% of the patients. Another 40% had undesirable shifts in their hearing thresholds. And 62 of the patients (24%) suffered from vertebragenic hearing disorders.
What’s great about this type of hearing problem is that it’s relatively easy to fix. In fact, in this study, the researchers found that they could reverse the hearing difficulties that were associated with upper spine problems. All it took was simple chiropractic treatment. So if you have tinnitus or any hearing loss, all it may take to reverse it could be a visit to a chiropractor with expertise in the upper cervical spine.
Another surprising cause of hearing issues, including tinnitus, is a dental infection. But this isn’t just any infection. It’s one that comes from cavitations left when you have your wisdom teeth pulled. Wisdom teeth are connected to the inner ear. In fact, this entire area of your jaw can affect your ears, which is why TMJ can cause hearing problems. If the surgeon pulling your wisdom teeth didn’t use PRP/PRF (see nutrientinsider.com for details), it’s possible the resulting cavitations have become infected. And this infection can affect your ears. If you do have an infection, you won’t solve your tinnitus or other hearing problems until you deal with it. You’ll need to find an integrative dentist that uses ozone to treat the infection. The good news is this can completely solve the problem – and it may help other areas of your body as well. This type of dental infection can send toxic bacteria throughout your body.
Other Hidden Toxins Can Cause Tinnitus
Another type of toxin that can cause tinnitus is heavy metals. I recently came across a case of a woman who suffered from tinnitus for almost two years after significant exposure to mercury, uranium, tin, strontium, and barium. She struggled with a high-pitched sound in both ears.
Since mercury, uranium, and tin are neurotoxic, they can destroy the nerve endings and cause tinnitus. The good news is that after receiving chelation therapy, her tinnitus subsided and never came back. She was fortunate to get the treatment before the toxins caused permanent damage to her ears – and probably other parts of her body (like her heart).
Turning to Nutrients to Find Relief
There’s a growing body of evidence that suggests a deficiency of vitamin B12 can contribute to tinnitus. One study found that 47% of tinnitus sufferers have a B12 deficiency. But the problem is that the reference range for B12 doesn't always work for everyone. So even if your doctor runs tests to see if you’re deficient, the test might not reveal a deficiency. Some people who have normal B12 levels can still benefit from taking the vitamin. Start with 50 mcg daily. You can take up 1,000 mcg daily if you find that you need more. But B12 isn't the only nutrient that can work wonders.
Folic Acid – Not too long ago, researchers conducted a double-blind, placebo-controlled study. They found that folic acid supplementation (800 mcg a day) can slow age-related hearing loss. Folic acid, as you may know, lowers homocysteine and also improves your memory. This study was on 712 older men who had average homocysteine of 13mm/L (less than 10 is ideal). They also had vitamin B12 levels above 200 pm/L (this should be over 800). The researchers said it’s possible homocysteine could contribute to tinnitus and age-related hearing loss. And both folic acid and B12 lower homocysteine and improve hearing. A good dose of folic acid is 200 mcg daily.
Ginkgo Biloba – Traditional medicine practitioners use ginkgo biloba to treat tinnitus. A few good trials suggest that this herb may, indeed, lower the perceived loudness. But make sure you're using a ginkgo product that contains 24% flavone glycosides or "standardized extract." Take 60-240 mg daily of the standard ginkgo in two divided doses. Ginkgo biloba improves blood flow and nerve function. But talk to a doctor before taking it if you take Coumadin or have a blood disorder.
CoQ10 – Researchers have conducted several clinical trials to find out if CoQ10 can help people with tinnitus. In 2007, the Journal of Otolaryngology - Head and Neck Surgery reported on one of these studies. They found that CoQ10 can indeed help certain people. It can help reduce ringing in your ears from tinnitus in certain cases.
But this isn't the only study on CoQ10 and hearing problems. The same publication published another study several months later and found that low CoQ10 levels, along with high cholesterol, can lead to hearing loss.
A third study was a pilot study on 20 subjects with tinnitus. The researchers provided CoQ10 (100 mg, three times daily) for 12 weeks. Seven of the participants started the study with low levels of CoQ10 and saw a significant rise with the supplementation. In these seven, their tinnitus dropped significantly.
And another study, this one in December 2010, actually tested CoQ10 and its ability to treat hearing loss. The results were impressive. Researchers from the University of Ulsan College of Medicine in Korea followed 60 patients with age-related hearing loss. They gave one group conventional steroid therapy. And they gave a second group the same steroid therapy along with 100 mg of CoQ10. Those taking the CoQ10 had greater improvements in their speech discrimination score than the group taking just the steroid therapy. So if you're suffering from age-related hearing loss, start by taking 100 mg of CoQ10. The better-absorbed Ubiquinol may show better results.
Melatonin – A study by researchers from Washington University of St. Louis looked at 24 patients with sleep disturbances and tinnitus. The patients were given a common dose of melatonin, three mg daily for four weeks. The researchers then observed them for another four weeks.
Amazingly, the team found significant improvements in both tinnitus and sleep quality for all of the patients. They also found that as the tinnitus improved, so did sleep. Melatonin even cut down on sleep disturbances caused by the tinnitus. Finally, the researchers found that melatonin helped those who suffered from severe and mild ringing alike.
Pycnogenol® – Pycnogenol is a natural plant extract originating from the bark of the maritime pine that grows along the coast of southwest France. It contains a unique combination of procyanidins, bioflavonoids, and phenolic acids. This particular extract has been widely studied for over 40 years and has nearly 400 published studies and review articles. One of its uses is treating hearing issues, including tinnitus.
In one study, a research team looked at 107 men and women who were suffering from Meniere's disease, tinnitus, and cochlear hypoperfusion. Meniere's disease is a chronic condition that causes a loss of balance or equilibrium known as vertigo. Cochlear hypoperfusion refers to a lack of blood flow to the area that controls our sense of balance. When blood flow decreases, our balance disappears.
At the beginning of the study, the researchers measured the cochlear blood flow. They also determined how much vertigo, hearing loss, tinnitus, pressure in the ear, and unsteady gait each patient had. Then they gave 55 of them 150 mg per day of Pycnogenol®. They gave the other 52 any one of several other treatments.
After only three months of treatment, the researchers discovered that the Pycnogenol group improved more than the other group in every single parameter they measured. Amazingly, 45.4% of the men and women using Pycnogenol experienced a complete reversal of their symptoms. Only 23.07% of the patients who got the traditional treatments saw a reversal.
But the results were even better after six months. An astonishing 87.3% of those taking the Pycnogenol were cured compared with 34.6% of the traditional group. The researchers found that the cochlear blood flow velocity was significantly better in the Pycnogenol group. The subjective tinnitus scale decreased in both groups. But, according to the authors, "The decrease was more significant in Pycnogenol subjects at three and six months. The symptoms of Meniere's disease, flow at cochlear level, and tinnitus improved in Pycnogenol subjects in comparison with best management."
So if you suffer from tinnitus, taking Pycnogenol could be the answer you’re looking for. But there’s one thing to remember – it took six months to see these results. You might start to see results before then. But don’t stop taking the nutrient until you’re sure the issue is completely gone.
And don’t hesitate to take the Pycnogenol with the other nutrients mentioned above. You might find that the results will be better and faster. You can find all of these nutrients online and in your local health food store.
Khan M., J. Gross, et al. “A pilot clinical trial of the effects of coenzyme Q10 on chronic tinnitus aurium,” Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg, 2007; 136(1): 72-7.
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Megwalu, U.C., J.E. Finnell, and J.F. Piccirillo. “The effects of melatonin on tinnitus and sleep,” Otolaryngol Head Neck Surg., 2006; 134(2): 210-3.
Luzzi R, Belcaro G, et al. Improvement in symptoms and cochlear flow with Pycnogenol in patients with Meniere’s disease and tinnitus. Minerva Med. 2014 Jun;105(3):245-54.