Buzzing, swishing, hissing, whirring, chirping, ringing. If you’re hearing those noises inside your ears, you have tinnitus. It won’t cause deafness, but it can impair hearing. It’s usually caused by a head injury, an infection, a disease or exposure to loud sounds such as gunshots and explosions. The natural remedies in this chapter—in conjunction with medical care and used with the approval of your doctor—may help relievetinnitus, according to some health professionals.
“There’s a major food connection here,” says Paul Yanick, Ph.D., a research scientist in Milford, Pennsylvania. “Basically, a lack ofmagnesium might cause some people to suffer tinnitus.” He recommends eating plenty of magnesium-rich foods, which may provide relief from tinnitus and help prevent new episodes. (For food sources of magnesium, see “Getting What You Need” on page 142.)
If your doctor says that your tinnitus is the result of circulation problems, try ginkgo, which increases blood flow to the brain, says Varro E. Tyler, Ph.D., professor of pharmacognosy at Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. Ginkgo capsules are sold in most health food stores. Check the label for dosage instructions—and to be sure that you’re getting enoughginkgo to be effective, says Dr. Tyler. He recommends a dose of 120 milligrams daily of a concentrated, standardized ginkgo extract known as GBE (Ginkgo biloba extract). Ginkgo works slowly, and it may take weeks or months before you notice improvement, he adds.
In his book The Family Guide to Homeopathy, Andrew Lockie, M.D., suggests that taking one of the following 6C remedies three times daily for up to two weeks may help controltinnitus.
If you have a roaring sound in your ears accompanied by giddiness and deafness, try Salicylic acidum, says Dr. Lockie. If you have roaring with a tingling sensation and your ears feel clogged up, he recommends Carbonium sulphuratum. Kali iodatum is a good remedy for long-standing ringing in the ears with no other symptoms, he says.
All of these remedies are available in many health food stores. To purchase the remedies by mail, refer to the resource list on page 637.
You may get some relief from tinnitus by working the ear, cervical spine and neck reflex points on your hands or feet, says St. Petersburg, Florida, reflexologist Dwight Byers, author of Better Health with Foot Reflexology. Byers also suggests working the points on the sides and bottoms of both big toes thoroughly, using whichever technique you find most comfortable.
To help you locate these points, consult the hand and foot reflex charts beginning on page 582. For instructions on how to work the points, see “Your Reflexology Session” on page 110.
Relaxation and Meditation
Relaxation and meditation techniques can help some people temporarily relieve tinnitus and are particularly effective if used as part of a comprehensive treatment program that includes medication, broad-band noise generators (commonly known as white noise machines), hearing aids and other therapies, says Pawel Jastreboff, Ph.D., professor of surgery and physiology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine and director of the University of MarylandTinnitus and Hyperacusis Center, both in Baltimore. Dr. Jastreboff says stress makes it harder for a person who has tinnitus to ignore the annoying ringing in his ears. Relaxation counteracts that.
Pick one of the relaxation techniques described beginning on page 113 and practice it for at least 30 minutes a day for at least a week. Relaxation may not be helpful for everybody, so if at the end of the week the technique isn’t working or yourtinnitus seems worse, try another relaxation method or see your doctor, Dr. Jastreboff says.