For the millions of people who experience tinnitus, it is only natural to seek a solution to provide relief from the constant ringing in their ears. Online, there are many proposed remedies, from garlic to herbal remedies like ginkgo.
Another proposed common remedy is essential oils. However, essential oils provide limited benefits. This article will discuss the role of essential oils in curing tinnitus.
Can Essential Oils Help Cure Tinnitus?
No. Essential oils cannot cure tinnitus symptoms. They may provide some temporary relief in conjunction with other therapies. However, there are no studies or evidence to say that essential oils can be used as a tinnitus treatment in any beneficial way.
Essential Oils For Tinnitus
There is no limit to the number of essential oils now available. Many, if not all of these oils, are commonly put forth as solutions for tinnitus.
These can include: lavender oil, basil oil, cypress oil, patchouli oil, olive oil, bitter orange oil, clary sage oil, peppermint oil, bergamot oil, rosemary oil, ginger oil, thyme oil, ginseng oil, rose oil, oregano oil, petitgrain oil, spotted orchis oil, lilies oil, lemon balm oil, juniper oil.
There are also oils outside of the “essential oil” category that people swear by like the “fix it all oils”: castor oil, CBD oil, geranium oil, mustard oil, onion oil, tangerine oil and bishop’s weed oil.
For people following essential oils, these may not come as a surprise. Oils are often proposed as a topical treatment. Others claim to use it via inhalation or diffusion. It’s very costly and each oil is said to have a different mechanism of action.
Is There Any Clinical Evidence?
The problem is that there are no studies that have been published that substantiate these claims. Specifically, when it comes to tinnitus, there are no completed trials or research studies. Additionally, there is also the element of risk.
These risks can include skin irritation, other allergic reactions, and toxicity. The American Academy of Audiology has reported that essential oils are not effective for hearing loss, tinnitus relief, or vertigo.
What Do Essential Oils Do?
If you have ringing in the ears, essential oils cannot reverse it. This is because there are hundreds of causes for tinnitus in one or both ears. For this symptom to resolve, the root cause must be treated.
Then, what do essential oils do?
It is true that essential oils can have a relaxing effect on you. If your tinnitus is due to stress, lack of sleep, or affecting your mental health, then you can use these oils to help combat these symptoms.
These oils can reduce blood pressure, heart rate, and respiratory rate. They can change the composition of brain waves and reduce cortisol (the stress hormone) levels in the blood.
They stimulate blood circulation, boost energy, relieve stress, improve mood, fight infection, and promote positive well-being, among other health benefits.
If you have recurrent bacterial infections, coughs, and colds that plug into your eustachian tube, then eucalyptus oil and lemon oil may help boost your immune system.
Can I Try Essential Oils?
So what about all the personal testimonials online? People say Helichrysum essential oil benefits tinnitus sufferers. Some claim it is a good alternative medicine that comes from potent plant extracts.
You may even see complicated recipes where people suggest adding mixtures of tea tree oil and vinegar and applying this to your ears. Do not do this!
Remember, the ear is a closed system. All of these “remedies” can damage the delicate skin and ear membrane that separates the inner ear from the ear canal. None of these will correctly diffuse across the ear membrane and reach your inner ear safely.
If you do have a hole in the tympanic membrane, these oils can seep into your inner ear and damage the smaller cells and fluid-containing chambers. They are harmful to the sensitive mucous membranes found in the mouth and ear.
Most of these oils are harmful when applied directly to the skin. Even when diluted, they are known to be irritants. In the inner ear, they can be even more harmful to the delicate structures inside.
What you can do is use essential oils to reduce stress in conjunction with the treatment prescribed by your doctor. In fact, it is important to go over your essential oil routine with them. You should always consult your health team or hearing professional when it comes to these alternative remedies.
Most people who have seen results with certain essential oils did not use them as their sole therapy. They used preventive behaviors, followed the treatment protocol from their doctor, and included other solutions. All these therapies worked simultaneously.
Steps as simple as cutting out alcohol and nicotine (active and passive), getting enough sleep and including antioxidant supplements in their diet were used in combination with essential oils.
Besides antioxidant supplements, there’s a whole list of other tinnitus supplements you can use to alleviate your symptoms.
Reducing exposure to noise and wearing hearing aids helped them as much, if not more, than the essential oil usage.
For many, tinnitus retraining therapy, sound therapy, masking, and even cognitive behavioral therapy can help retrain the ears.
This is in addition to the primary treatment your doctor is using for your tinnitus. Whether that includes ear wax removal, eardrum surgery, or treating middle ear infections.
Using Essential Oils
If you still want to give essential oils a try, then do so after talking to your health care professional. Here are some steps to follow.
- When using an essential oil, run it by your primary care physician. Be sure to explain what you are planning on using and how you are going to use it.
- You must inform yourself on the properties and safety of the oil thoroughly. Many oils that are good in food are not suitable for the skin, since these are very concentrated liquids.
- Do not put any oils into your ear. They can burn the delicate structures inside.
- Dilute the chosen essential oil before you use it behind the ear lobe or use it in a diffuser.
- Do a test patch with a few drops before using a large amount. Use a carrier oil like olive oil or coconut oil when you use essential oils like: lavender oil, juniper berry oil, orchis oil, rehmannia oil, cajeput oil or helichrysum oil.
- Do not stop any treatment prescribed for tinnitus while you use essential oils.
- Protect your ears from loud noises.
- If you have any skin irritation, burning, headaches, nausea, and vomiting discontinue this therapy at once.
- Document any changes in your tinnitus and share them with your doctor.
Another thing to keep in mind, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) does not regulate essential oils. They are expensive and sold with little oversight.
Oils cannot be used by children, pregnant women, or nursing women. As a reminder, no scientific studies have proven their benefit when it comes to the ear. Proceed with caution.
If you want to use them to destress, there are alternatives like massage therapy, sound therapy, deep breathing, and masking, to name a few. You may wish to try those instead. At present, essential oils have no role to play when it comes to treating tinnitus.
A Healthier You
Essential oils do have many benefits for the body. For a healthier you, these natural tinnitus remedies work in many ways. However, there is no evidence essential oils for tinnitus work as a cure. In fact, essential oil usage may be more harmful than good!
1. De Groot AC, Schmidt E.(2016) Essential Oils, Part 1: Introduction. Dermatitis 27(2) 39-42
2. Babar AN, Ali A, Saiba S, Essential oils used in aromatherapy: A systemic review.