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Treating Tinnitus – the natural approach

Next in our series from our favourite lifestyle Blog for the over 50’s, Annabel & Grace – Annabel is sharing with us some natural remedies to help treat tinnitus. 

The first time you experience tinnitus, if you don’t know what it is, it can be quite scary. Commonly identified by sufferers as a ringing in the ears, tinnitus comes from the Latin word for ringing. It can actually be any kind of repetitive sound, from whistling to buzzing, even the sound of one’s own heart beating.

Anywhere up to 10% of the adult population in the UK suffer from it on a permanent basis, with 30% of those aged 70+ having experienced it. In many cases the tinnitus will go away by itself, or is only a minor problem that the sufferer will manage to get used to over time, but occasionally medical treatment will be necessary. 

Causes of Tinnitus

While many causes have been suggested, there is no general agreement within medical circles on the causes and treatments. A common cause of tinnitus is a buildup of earwax in the ear canal so always worth starting with a visit to the GP as removal of wax is a simple procedure with immediate results.

Other potential causes could be:

  • damage to the cochlea
  • a middle ear infection
  • a perforated eardrum
  • fluid in the ear
  • spongy bone growth in the inner ear (otosclerosis)
  • low or high blood pressue
  • Ménière's Disease
  • conditions such as diabetes, thyroid disorders or multiple sclerosis
  • anxiety or depression
  • taking certain medicines - tinnitus can be a side effect of some chemotherapy medicines, antibiotics, non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) and aspirin
Frustratingly, it’s often not possible to identify a cause, just the symptoms. People who are often affected include those who have been exposed to loud noise frequently such as music concerts, clubs or festivals. Also, people who have worked near heavy machinery increase the chances of experiencing tinnitus. Interestingly, it’s best not to treat tinnitus with silence rather it is better to listen to soft music and sounds as these can act as a distraction.
If you are a sufferer, you’ll know just how exasperating it can be and will no doubt jump at the chance to find a solution. And although there is little hard evidence to show that food and natural remedies can help with tinnitus, I always feel it’s worth giving it a go?

Diets and Supplements to help Tinnitus

Tinnitus is frequently a result of not enough blood reaching the ear, often due to inflammation. One of the best ways to help improve circulation and prevent inflammation is getting plenty of healthy physical activity, including moderate exercise. 

In addition to physical activity, a good plan for relieving and possibly eliminating tinnitus is to eat a healthy diet and take supplements which help reduce inflammation and improve circulation.

An anti-tinnitus diet should be a mostly high protein, nutrient dense diet which includes lots of fresh raw fruits and vegetables. Use healthy items such as coconut, olive oil, grass-fed meat, free range eggs, avocados, nuts/seeds, and non-starchy vegetables as primary fuels every day.

Food items which reduce and protect against inflammation include nutrient and phytonutrient dense fruits & vegetables, healthy fats, and grass-fed/free-range animal products. Choose fruits which are mostly low-sugar and rich in anti-oxidants. Examples include berries, lemons/limes, & grapefruits.

Herbs which are noted for their anti-inflammatory properties include: 

  • turmeric
  • ginger
  • dandelion
  • oregano
  • garlic
  • green tea

That covers some of the food and drinks you can try, but what about the ones you ought to be trying to avoid? Naturally you want to move away from anything that is shown to cause inflammation, so it’s goodbye to coffee and alcohol unfortunately, as well as too much processed food and dairy. 

B Vitamins

B Vitamins help reduce and prevent inflammation. Vitamin B12 is considered to be good for combating tinnitus because it is essential for the formation of the myelin sheaths that surround and protect nerve fibers. B12 deficiency can make nerves more susceptible to inflammatory damage. If you prefer not to take supplements, healthy meats are good sources of B12 and other B vitamins

Alpha Lipoic Acid

Alpha lipoic acid is considered a vitamin-like chemical that functions as an antioxidant. As such, the substance treats cell damage in the body by restoring vitamin levels including vitamin E and C. The substance has also been shown to improve the function and conduction of neurons, which help transfer signals in the brain.

Gingko Biloba

Gingko biloba is an herbal remedy known to treat a number of health conditions including tinnitus. Gingko plays a part in improving blood circulation, which contribute to the better functioning of the ears. The seeds also contain antibacterial and antifungal properties that help eliminate underlying infection that may be contributing to the condition.

Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar is an antifungal and anti-inflammatory agent. When taken as a tonic daily, the vinegar works to alkalize the body and balance the natural levels in the body. This process eliminates underlying infection as well as any fungus that may be contributing to the condition.

Although it is usually older people, and those who work in noisy professions, who are at most risk, tinnitus can strike anyone at any time, and it can have a severe impact on quality of life if left untreated. 

As with any medical condition, if you think you have tinnitus and it is becoming an issue for you, make an appointment with your GP or a hearing specialist who can administer special tests to confirm a diagnosis. It could be as simple as removing a build-up of earwax, or getting some useful advice on specialist equipment you can wear at work, that can make all the difference.

However,if natural remedies don’t seem to help, there are also various alternative treatments such as therapies, medication and hearing aids, which your doctor can discuss with you.