Natural remedies for tinnitus

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Tinnitus is when you hear ringing or other noises in one or both ears that no one else hears. Noise is not caused by external sound, but occurs when something is wrong with the auditory system , which includes the ear, the auditory nerve, and the parts of the brain that process sound.

There is no single effective treatment for tinnitus. For some people, the only option is to control the symptom or seek advice to better cope with it. While there are medications and devices that can help make noise less unpleasant, there may be nothing that can completely eliminate it.

It is for this reason that people with tinnitus sometimes turn to complementary and alternative medicine to manage this common and devastating symptom. This article explores several options, including what the current study says.

Meng Yiren / Moment / Getty Images

Ginkgo biloba

Ginkgo biloba is an herb used in alternative medicine to treat a variety of non-health conditions, including anxiety, asthma, diabetes, erectile dysfunction, fatigue, glaucoma, and high blood pressure.

Tinnitus is on the list of symptoms that ginkgo biloba is said to treat. Some people believe that it can improve blood flow, reduce inflammation , and alter the function of nerve cells. These effects may reduce tinnitus in some people.

So far, there is no evidence for this. A 2013 review in the Cochrane database of systematic reviews could find no evidence that Gingko biloba was helpful in treating people with tinnitus as a major problem. People with Alzheimer's or vascular dementia have seen small but significant improvements.

A 2017 review published in the International Tinnitus Journal concluded that the evidence on whether Gingko biloba can help is mixed. In their conclusion, the researchers stated that "ginkgo biloba may reduce tinnitus a bit."

Summary

There is no clear evidence that ginkgo biloba can help treat tinnitus. Some studies have reported improvements, but the results have not been consistent.

Acupuncture

Acupuncture is used in traditional Chinese medicine to treat a variety of conditions, including tinnitus. Acupuncture is believed to restore the flow of the body's vital energy, called qi, and thereby improve health.

A 2012 BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine review of nine randomized controlled trials concluded that the size and quality of the studies were "insufficient to draw definitive conclusions." The overall quality of the studies was low.

A 2015 review published in the European Archives of Otolaryngology compares Chinese and English studies on the subject. The researchers reported that almost all Chinese studies showed improvement in tinnitus symptoms, while almost all English studies did not. Biases and shortcomings have been highlighted in many studies, especially in Chinese.

After all, the researchers wrote, acupuncture "may provide subjective benefits for some," suggesting that the benefits may be more tangible than real.

Summary

There is no evidence that acupuncture can help treat tinnitus. Because results may differ from person to person, some researchers suggest that the benefits, if any, may be subjective.

Zinc supplements

The essential mineral zinc helps transmit nerve signals to the brain, including those related to hearing. Some scientists believe that zinc deficiency can interfere with these signals and contribute to tinnitus. There is a debate as to whether this is true.

A 2015 study published in the American Journal of Otolaryngology reported low zinc levels in 100 older adults with tinnitus. The findings, while interesting, were limited by the fact that zinc deficiency is prevalent in the United States, ranging from 35% to 45% of older adults.

However, some research suggests that zinc supplements may be beneficial. A 2013 study in Otology and Neurotology found that 5% of participants who received a zinc supplement reported a subjective improvement in tinnitus symptoms compared to 2% of participants who received a placebo . Even so, the difference was not statistically significant.

Some studies show that zinc supplements can help reduce tinnitus in a small percentage of people. Still, the benefits may be more tangible than real.

Biofeedback

Biofeedback involves training to consciously control vital functions such as heart rate and breathing, which are generally unconscious. It is often used to treat tension headaches and insomnia , or to reduce a person's response to chronic pain .

Unlike other alternative therapies, biofeedback is not designed to reduce tinnitus symptoms. Instead, it is used to reduce the stress associated with tinnitus. By doing this, a person can learn to deal with tinnitus and improve their quality of life.

A 2009 study published in the British Journal of Clinical Psychology found that a combination of biofeedback and cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) was beneficial for people with chronic tinnitus.

A form of biofeedback called neurofeedback, in which you learn to control brain waves on a laptop, also appears to be helpful. According to a 2017 review published in Frontiers in Aging Neurology, neurofeedback "may be a promising treatment" for some types of tinnitus. More research is required.

Summary

Biofeedback is used to reduce the stress associated with tinnitus. By doing so, the person can learn to better cope with the symptom. Current evidence suggests that biofeedback can help.

Summary

Tinnitus is an anxiety condition that can affect a person's quality of life. There are currently no treatments that are effective for everyone.

Complementary and alternative therapies such as ginkgo biloba, acupuncture, and zinc supplements are believed to help, but there is no evidence for this. The benefits, if any, are largely subjective.

Biofeedback can help reduce tinnitus disorder and help you better cope with the symptom. However, more research is needed to confirm how biofeedback is used in the treatment of tinnitus.

Get the word of drug information

Due to a lack of research, it is too early to recommend any of these tinnitus treatments. If you plan to use any of these, speak with your doctor to weigh the potential risks and benefits.

While it can be frustrating to learn that tinnitus is impossible to get rid of, there are strategies to help you deal with it. Ask your doctor for a referral to a specialist known as an otolaryngologist who can advise on various medical and non-medical treatments for tinnitus symptoms.

Frequently asked questions

  • There are currently no medications specifically recommended for the treatment of tinnitus and nothing has been shown to cure the condition.

  • A systematic review published in 2012 could not find clear evidence of a benefit. One of the nine studies reviewed showed that acupuncture was beneficial for people with nervous tinnitus, but none could prove the same in people with senile tinnitus associated with aging.

  • A 2016 Cochrane review could find no evidence of benefit based on three randomized controlled trials in 209 people with tinnitus. None of the studies reported significant changes in tinnitus volume after zinc supplementation .

  • There is evidence that this is possible based on a 2019 Frontiers of Neurology survey. In the same way that cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) can reduce the stress associated with tinnitus, Meditation appears to help reduce anxiety and improve coping skills.

  • There is no evidence that this is possible based on a 2013 Cochrane review of 1543 people with tinnitus. The only improvement was seen in people with Alzheimer's or vascular dementia, but no other users reported a change in their condition after using Gingko biloba.

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