For the millions of people experiencing tinnitus every day, there is a strong desire for a cure, a miracle drug, or a herbal or a natural remedy, to better their symptoms. Understandably, the patient population with tinnitus is frustrated and impatient, having to cope with ringing of the ears.
One common question arises, are there any natural cures for tinnitus? This article will discuss the natural solutions for tinnitus.
Are There Any Natural Cures For Tinnitus?
There are no natural cures for tinnitus. Tinnitus has no cure. Since tinnitus is a symptom, it can only be resolved by removing or treating its cause.
However, many people have found natural remedies to alleviate their symptoms. This includes melatonin, dietary supplements, herbs, and antioxidants.
16 Natural Therapies for Tinnitus
Below are sixteen very popular natural therapies for tinnitus. They do not cure tinnitus, but can help the ringing symptoms to fade. You may have heard them being referred to as complementary and alternative medicine (CAM).
Melatonin Can Ease Tinnitus
Melatonin is also known as the sleep hormone. It is secreted by the pineal gland when we sleep at night. It is often taken as a sleep supplement for people dealing with insomnia or jet lag. It plays a role in the sleep-wake cycle of the human body. Studies have been done on the effects of melatonin in people with tinnitus.
It has been found that after taking melatonin, people have less intense tinnitus and a better quality of sleep. It is more effective in men, and in those who do not have a history of depression.
It also provides better results in those who have bilateral severe tinnitus and a history of exposure to loud noises. Melatonin can also protect the ears from damage by harmful drugs like gentamicin and cancer medications.
Ginkgo Biloba Treatment
Another frequently used natural therapy is ginkgo. Ginkgo biloba comes from the Ginkgoaceae family.
Its leaf contains benzoids, carotenoids, flavonoids, and terpenoids, among other plant chemicals. Each of these compounds has many effects on the human body. It can improve blood flow and protect nerves.
The studies on ginkgo are divided. Some studies suggest that it is ineffective against tinnitus. Others say that there is some benefit of ginkgo extract at 160mg/day. Again, ginkgo extract may reduce symptoms, but does not cure tinnitus.
Spirulina is a blue-green algae. It grows in freshwater and seawater. It was hailed as a superfood in 2019. Ever since then, it has been studied as a treatment for tinnitus and many other conditions.
In those with tinnitus due to the use of pain medications, spirulina can reduce the tinnitus score significantly. The superfood itself, or even water extract of this superfood, reduces ringing in the ears. It does so by reducing inflammation and protecting the nerves of the ear.
Acupuncture to Relieve Tinnitus
Acupuncture is a form of traditional Chinese medicine where thin needles are inserted into the body.
A systematic review of all the research on acupuncture and tinnitus has produced conflicting results. Nearly all the Chinese studies have shown positive effects of acupuncture, while Western research has largely been negative.
What is clear is that there is some benefit, but the benefit depends on the different acupuncture points used. It also depends on the practitioner. People with tinnitus due to a central nervous system condition fared better, when receiving acupuncture. The benefits have not yet been quantified in any study, so this remedy remains subjective.
Oral antioxidants are alternative treatments that help reduce tinnitus. They include zinc supplements, vitamin E, and vitamin C, among others.
Studies have shown that antioxidant supplements in the form of multivitamins can reduce the intensity of tinnitus and the discomfort it causes tinnitus sufferers. Zinc can reduce the severity of tinnitus symptoms.
Garlic in Ear
Can you use garlic in the ear? No. However, garlic added extracts are used to treat ear infections and they have been studied for tinnitus in mice.
For noise-induced hearing loss, garlic extracts have been helpful. Many people also use garlic oil to remove ear wax. However, there is no study proving this is helpful in humans.
Besides, it is not advisable to put a whole clove of garlic in your ear as recommended by some. Garlic does have many anti-inflammatory properties, but ear infections should be treated with appropriate antibiotics.
Vertigoheel in Homeopathy
People often consider homeopathy for tinnitus treatment. One common drug for this is vertigoheel. It is a preparation of Ambra grisea, cocculus indicus, conium maculatum, and petroleum.
Studies show that vertigoheel does reduce vertigo and hazy tinnitus in people who have these symptoms simultaneously. The symptoms tend to disappear. So, this remedy has some effect on the central nervous system. The dose and how often it must be taken, is not clear.
Also Read: Can Essential Oils Help Cure Tinnitus?
Masking techniques can help cancel out tinnitus. This could be natural sounds of the rain, a stream of water, etc. You can drown out the ringing sounds of tinnitus by using sounds of nature. This can be done with an app or a white noise machine.
This method can help you cope with the existing tinnitus, especially if it severely affects your quality of life. Wearing hearing aids can also prevent tinnitus from worsening .
Hypnosis retrains your brain to turn down the volume of tinnitus. This is a method to refocus the brain, but does not cure tinnitus. 73% of study participants claimed that their tinnitus disappeared during hypnosis.
These studies have all been short-term. However, people have reported benefits in as little as five sessions of hypnotherapy.
Bojungikgitang and Banhabaekchulchonmatang
These are Korean medicines that are widely used for tinnitus. They are approved by the Korean FDA as a treatment for tinnitus. They also do not have any side effects.
This is a Chinese herb. A study in China has shown that it is effective in treating sensorineural hearing loss. It is also effective in reducing symptoms of tinnitus, as it decreases aural fullness and insomnia. There are no other studies to verify its efficacy.
Korean red ginseng or Panax ginseng is very popular as a treatment for multiple ailments in South East Asia. One of them is tinnitus. It is a traditional herb.
A study has shown that it can help improve symptoms in those with chronic tinnitus. Those who used 3000 mg/day of Korean red ginseng, fared better on the Tinnitus Handicap Inventory. Their overall mood and mental health were also much better.
This is Japanese herbal medicine. It is made up of seven herbs: Bupleurum radix, Atractylodes lancea rhizoma, Japanese Angelica radix, Poria sclerotium, Cnidium rhizoma, Glycyrrhiza radix, and Uncaria thorn.
It has been approved by the Ministry of Health in Japan for neurosis and insomnia. One study reports that it is effective in treating somatoform disorders with tinnitus.
Meditation to Relieve Tinnitus
There is evidence to suggest that stress and tinnitus are correlated. In this case, it is similar to a chicken and egg situation. What comes first is speculation.
Both stress and tinnitus lead to a vicious circle where stress can worsen tinnitus and tinnitus can worsen stress. So, it comes as no surprise that meditation relieves both stress and tinnitus. Any form of relaxation therapy, aromatherapy, or music therapy can relieve tinnitus when done meditatively.
Mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR)
An adjunct to meditation, MBSR is a specific cognitive therapy that uses mindfulness to refocus the brain. When compared to relaxation therapy, MBSR reduces the symptoms in those with chronic tinnitus. Patients revealed it required 8 weekly 120-minute sessions to see a significant improvement in disability.
There are various forms of MBSR techniques including mindful stretching, breath-focused exercises, body awareness mindfulness, and walking meditation. These are all forms of cognitive-behavioral therapy that you can practice yourself or with a CBT therapist.
There are no studies that suggest that massage can relieve tinnitus. However, massage therapy can reduce stress. It can also relieve any muscle tension that is involved in temporomandibular joint (TMJ) dysfunction, which can cause tinnitus.
Many other natural therapies claim to cure tinnitus. Drugs like black cohosh, used for menopause, is an example of alternative medicine. Tinnitus is also one of the symptoms of menopause. So while it is effective for menopause, there is no evidence that it directly relieves tinnitus.
Miscellaneous Tinnitus Remedies
Combinations of Chinese medicines like Banxia and Tianma are commonly used tinnitus remedies but there are no studies that confirm their effectiveness.
Cornus (Cornus officinalis), or Japanese cornelian cherry, does not have any effect on tinnitus alone. When combined with Chinese foxglove root and Chinese yam, it seems to reduce tinnitus severity. Again, there are no clinical trials to confirm this.
Similarly, other herbs like Rhodiola rosea, Hydrastis canadensis, Sesamum indicum, Helianthus annuus, are all used in the treatment of tinnitus, but there are no studies to confirm their effectiveness.
As you have seen, many of these herbs and medicines are not available globally. They are also unregulated. There are no FDA approvals for these medications for the treatment of tinnitus. The choice of the remedy also depends largely on the cause of the tinnitus.
It cannot be stressed enough that your diagnosis will determine your treatment. Once the cause of the tinnitus is treated, the tinnitus will resolve.
Tinnitus causes could be high blood pressure, nerve cells, wax in the ear canal, poor hearing health, or inner ear pathologies.
Right Medication, Wrong Timing
Tinnitus is considered a two-step pathological condition. There is an initial phase that can take place anywhere in the ear. The second phase involves the nervous system.
Current drugs can benefit patients if they are in the initial phase. However, they play no role in the second phase. A drug or a medication that acts more centrally might be a better choice in the latter phase. But, there is no definitive timeframe as to when these phases begin.
Some studies claim that the auditory system reacts differently, during different times of the day. The fact that tinnitus fluctuates throughout the day proves this. Moreover, drug response also varies by chronotype and circadian rhythms.
Why is There No Cure?
It is frustrating that there is no cure for tinnitus. Most people with subjective tinnitus want to reduce the annoyance it causes, even just by half.
There are many reasons why there is no cure. Firstly, it is not financially rewarding for pharmaceuticals to produce a cure. However, this is slowly changing. There is some financial incentive as loud noise increases in occupations like the military and factory work.
The research is also scarce. There are only 200 registered trials on tinnitus in comparison to over 2000 trials for chronic pain. Of the 200 trials, only 55 were studying the effectiveness of a remedy.
The National Institutes of Health (NIH) received $214 million to study hearing disorders and only $5 million was directed towards tinnitus research. So funding is also limited.
Defining the cure is also part of the problem. Total eradication of tinnitus may also be a bad idea because normal people, when placed in soundproof rooms, tend to hear a phantom ringing sound. The hope should be remission rather than eradication.
Whatever natural medical treatments you choose to try, ensure that you first run it by your doctor for medical advice and proceed with caution.
A Natural Source of Better Health
There are many challenges to tinnitus research. Currently, the British Tinnitus Association has developed a Tinnitus Cure Map to summarize everything known about tinnitus.
Hopefully, with the help of this map, there will one day be a cure. Until then, it is best to alleviate the symptom as much as possible and use therapies that may help with its remission.
1. Hurtuk A, Dome C, Holloman CH, et al. Melatonin: can it stop the ringing?. Ann Otol Rhinol Laryngol. 2011;120(7):433-440. doi:10.1177/000348941112000703
2. Liu F, Han X, Li Y, Yu S. Acupuncture in the treatment of tinnitus: a systematic review and meta-analysis. Eur Arch Otorhinolaryngol. 2016;273(2):285-294. doi:10.1007/s00405-014-3341-7
3. McFerran Don J., Stockdale David, Holme Ralph, Large Charles H., Baguley David M. Why Is There No Cure for Tinnitus? Frontiers in Neuroscience, Vol.13, 2019, https://www.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fnins.2019.00802