Top 5 Natural Approaches for Tinnitus: Hope for Ringing Ears

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For the millions worldwide who suffer from the incessant ringing or buzzing of tinnitus, hope may lie in natural, drug-free approaches. A wealth of scientific research points to five promising remedies - from ancient herbs to mind-body practices - that could finally bring relief to frustrated ears.

Tinnitus, or chronic ringing in the ears, affects millions but has no cure. However, studies show that natural therapies like Ginkgo biloba, melatonin, zinc, acupuncture and qigong may significantly reduce symptoms and improve quality of life for many sufferers.

Tinnitus, the perception of ringing, buzzing, or other phantom noises in the ears, plagues an estimated 10-15% of the population.1 This often debilitating condition can interfere with sleep, concentration and emotional well-being. While conventional medicine offers few solutions, a growing body of research supports the use of natural therapies to manage tinnitus.

A systematic review of the scientific literature by GreenMedInfo.com uncovered five evidence-based natural approaches that may help silence ringing ears:

1. Ginkgo biloba: This ancient Chinese herb is one of the most promising tinnitus remedies. A standardized Ginkgo extract called EGb 761 has been found to significantly improve tinnitus symptoms.2 Animal studies suggest Ginkgo works by increasing blood flow to the inner ear and protecting against oxidative damage.3 Clinical trials have used doses of 120-240 mg per day.4

2. Melatonin: The sleep hormone melatonin may also benefit tinnitus, likely due to its antioxidant and neuroprotective properties.5 In one study, 3 mg of melatonin taken nightly for 30 days resulted in significant reductions in tinnitus intensity and improved sleep quality compared to placebo.6 Other trials have found similar benefits with doses ranging from 3-5 mg.7,8

3. Zinc: Zinc deficiency is common in people with tinnitus, and supplementation may reduce symptoms. Of five small clinical trials, four found that zinc supplementation (doses ranging from 50-90 mg per day) led to measurable improvements in subjective tinnitus.9 Researchers believe zinc may protect the cochlea from oxidative stress.10

4. Acupuncture: This traditional Chinese therapy has shown promise for tinnitus in both human and animal studies. Manual and electroacupuncture have been found to significantly reduce tinnitus severity and improve quality of life.11,12 One study found that electroacupuncture outperformed the conventional drug carbamazepine.13 The mechanism is thought to involve increasing circulation and reducing inflammation in the ear.

5. Qigong: The ancient practice of qigong, which combines meditation, controlled breathing and gentle movement, may help some tinnitus sufferers find relief. A clinical trial found that 5 weeks of qigong training resulted in significant improvements in tinnitus severity compared to a wait-list control group.14 Researchers believe qigong may help by reducing stress and regulating the autonomic nervous system.

While more research is still needed, these five natural therapies offer hope for the millions struggling with tinnitus. They can be used alone or in combination, and may work best under the guidance of a qualified holistic health practitioner.  

With their high safety profile and potentially potent effects, Ginkgo, melatonin, zinc, acupuncture and qigong represent promising drug-free approaches for taming tinnitus. For those frustrated with the lack of conventional solutions, Mother Nature may hold the key to turning down the volume on ringing ears. 

View additional research on Greenmedinfo.com relevant to tinnitus here.


References

1: Baguley, D., McFerran, D., & Hall, D. (2013). Tinnitus. The Lancet, 382(9904), 1600-1607. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0140-6736(13)60142-7

2: von Boetticher, A. (2011). Ginkgo biloba extract in the treatment of tinnitus: a systematic review. Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment, 7, 441-447. https://doi.org/10.2147/NDT.S22793

3: Jastreboff, P. J., Zhou, S., Jastreboff, M. M., Kwapisz, U., & Gryczynska, U. (1997). Attenuation of salicylate-induced tinnitus by Ginkgo biloba extract in rats. Audiology & Neuro-Otology, 2(4), 197-212. https://doi.org/10.1159/000259251

4: Mahmoudian-Sani, M., Hashemzadeh-Chaleshtori, M., Asadi-Samani, M., & Yang, Q. (2017). Ginkgo biloba in the treatment of tinnitus: An updated literature review. The International Tinnitus Journal, 21(1), 58-62. https://doi.org/10.5935/0946-5448.20170011

5: Hurtuk, A., Dome, C., Holloman, C. H., Wolfe, K., Welling, D. B., Dodson, E. E., & Jacob, A. (2011). Melatonin: can it stop the ringing? Annals of Otology, Rhinology, and Laryngology, 120(7), 433-440. https://doi.org/10.1177/000348941112000703

6: Hurtuk et al. (2011).

7: Megwalu, U. C., Finnell, J. E., & Piccirillo, J. F. (2006). The effects of melatonin on tinnitus and sleep. Otolaryngology--Head and Neck Surgery, 134(2), 210-213. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.otohns.2005.10.007

8: Rosenberg, S. I., Silverstein, H., Rowan, P. T., & Olds, M. J. (1998). Effect of melatonin on tinnitus. The Laryngoscope, 108(3), 305-310. https://doi.org/10.1097/00005537-199803000-00001

9: Coelho, C. B., Tyler, R., & Hansen, M. (2007). Zinc as a possible treatment for tinnitus. Progress in Brain Research, 166, 279-285. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0079-6123(07)66026-5

10: Arda, H. N., Tuncel, U., Akdogan, O., & Ozluoglu, L. N. (2003). The role of zinc in the treatment of tinnitus. Otology & Neurotology, 24(1), 86-89. https://doi.org/10.1097/00129492-200301000-00018

11: Wang, K., Bugge, J., & Bugge, S. (2010). A randomised, placebo-controlled trial of manual and electrical acupuncture for the treatment of tinnitus. Complementary Therapies in Medicine, 18(6), 249-255. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ctim.2010.09.005

12: Doi, M. Y., Tano, S. S., Schultz, A. R., & Marchiori, L. L. (2016). Effectiveness of acupuncture therapy as treatment for tinnitus: a randomized controlled trial. Brazilian Journal of Otorhinolaryngology, 82(4), 458-465. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.bjorl.2015.08.021

13: Marks, N. J., Emery, P., & Onisiphorou, C. (1984). A controlled trial of acupuncture in tinnitus. The Journal of Laryngology and Otology, 98(11), 1103-1109. https://doi.org/10.1017/s0022215100148085

14: Biesinger, E., Kipman, U., Schätz, S., & Langguth, B. (2010). Qigong for the treatment of tinnitus: a prospective randomized controlled study. Journal of Psychosomatic Research, 69(3), 299-304. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jpsychores.2010.04.013

Disclaimer: This article is not intended to provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Views expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of GreenMedInfo or its staff.

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