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Can alternative medicines help Tinnitus?

Can alternative medicines help to reduce Tinnitus?

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Is your life impacted by Tinnitus? Struggling to sleep or concentrate? Have you tried everything that’s been recommended by your Audiologist, Hearing Practitioner and GP?

If so, you sound like many of the patients I see on a daily basis. Tinnitus can be brutal.  With no known cure it’s often a trial and error approach to seeing what works best for you. It can often be something as simple as an earwax blockage which is increasing your symptoms, but when it’s not a simple fix the search to find the most effective treatment can be long, confusing and sometimes expensive.

I’ve always been sceptical about alternative therapies. Given we’ve yet to find a cure for Tinnitus, I decided it wouldn’t hurt to do some research to understand what’s out there.
Chinese herbal medicines offer a natural alternative to traditional pharmaceuticals that often claim to cure or relieve many daily illnesses. My question is…can it help with Tinnitus? 
As it happens, there is a commonly used herb in Chinese medicine for Tinnitus called Ginkgo Biloba.
Ginkgo Biloba is a tree that has been used in traditional medicine for centuries. It’s leaves contain compounds called flavonoids and terpenoids. They contain antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties which some say these have helped reduce tinnitus symptoms.
Ginkgo Biloba’s claim is that it increases blood flow to the head and neck. This can help to reduce the severity of tinnitus, which can sometimes be connected to a vascular abnormality.
Additionally, Ginkgo Biloba may also help to protect against the damage caused by ‘free radicals’, which can contribute to Tinnitus. These are molecules in your body which have uneven level of electrons making them react to other molecules. This can cause chain reactions resulting in cardiovascular and inflammatory diseases, cataracts, and even cancer.
So, have there been any reputable studies in the usage of Ginkgo Biloba and its effectiveness in reducing the symptoms of Tinnitus?
Surprisingly to me, it turns out that ‘Yes!’ there actually have been…
A study was published in the Journal of the Association for Research in Otolaryngology. They are the world’s largest organisation of hearing and balance researchers. It found that participants who took Ginkgo Biloba for 12 weeks reported a significant reduction in Tinnitus symptoms compared to those who received a placebo.

Another study was published in the Journal of Phytotherapy Research. It found Ginkgo Biloba effective in reducing the severity of tinnitus symptoms in patients with age-related hearing loss. In this study, participants who took Ginkgo Biloba for 12 weeks reported significant reduction in their tinnitus annoyance.

The NHS shows no direct link from Ginkgo Biloba to treatment of tinnitus. Interestingly, they do cite it as a complimentary treatment for Dementia.

Other Chinese herbal medicines that may be effective in managing tinnitus include Ligustrum. This is thought to improve blood circulation and reduce inflammation. Another is Salvia, which may help to improve blood flow to the ears.
I couldn’t find enough evidence backing up their usage to reduce Tinnitus symptoms. There appears to be a lot of people on Reddit who say they do. That doesn’t qualify as 100% credible in my book, so I won’t include them here.
While Ginkgo Biloba may be an effective natural alternative for managing tinnitus, it may not work for everyone. Chinese herbal medicine is not a replacement for traditional medical care. It is important to talk to your doctor before taking any new herbal supplements.
In addition to taking Chinese herbal medicines, there are other lifestyle changes that may help to reduce tinnitus symptoms. These include avoiding loud noises, reducing stress, checking for ear wax which can heighten Tinnitus, and eating a healthy diet.
OK, so here’s the bottom line…
1. There is still no cure for tinnitus.
2. Chinese herbal medicine may offer a natural alternative for managing the symptoms of this condition. Ginkgo Biloba, in particular, has been shown to be effective in reducing the severity of tinnitus symptoms.
3. Despite the studies, I’d personally look to alternative therapies after trying traditional methods to reduce your Tinnitus. Hearing aids, relaxation methods, masking techniques, lifestyle changes and TRT and CBT therapies.
4. If you are experiencing Tinnitus, it’s important to talk to your doctor and hearing practitioner to determine the best course of treatment for you.

5. If your mental health is affected by your Tinnitus then it’s important to talk to someone about it. It can be a compassionate friend, kind family member, trained counsellor or qualified ear practitioner.

If you’d like further help or have any questions, give us a call on 01429 233091 or email info@jamesdavidhearing.co.uk

Thanks for reading,

David @ James David Hearing Care

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