3 Possible Tinnitus Remedies
Have you ever heard that mysterious heartbeat or whooshing sound deep in your ears from time to time or maybe all the time?
Then this topic is for you.
Tinnitus is a bothersome condition that affects up to 42% of the general population, myself included, which is quite a few of us.
So in this topic, we're going to cover the basics of what tinnitus is exactly and the common symptoms that are associated with it.
We're also going to tackle the root cause of why tinnitus happens in the first place, which is what I'm always searching for as a functional nutrition provider, I'm all about getting down to the root cause. And finally, we'll explore the three possible tinnitus remedies that you can try today to get relief.
Let's jump in.
Hello everyone. My name is Katie Krejci and I am a gut health functional medicine dietitian at Oswald digestive clinic, where we help people improve and eliminate bothersome gut issues like gas, bloat, diarrhea, constipation, and more.
What is Tinnitus?
Tinnitus is a condition where the individual experiences ringing, roaring, clicking, hissing, or buzzing, inside their ear. And it can be one ear or both ears. It can come and go and variable waves or intensity, and it can rain from mild and barely noticeable to severe and debilitating.
4 Different Types of Tinnitus
Somatic tinnitus is triggered by physical movement in the body, such as movement of the jaw face, head, neck, or shoulders. So if you notice a wave of that whooshing noise while yawning or clenching your jaw, this might be your type. And often TMJ is involved in cases of somatic tinnitus.
Objective tinnitus is more vascular in nature and relates to issues within the station tube and can be heard by placing a stethoscope, actually near the ear canal.
Subjective tinnitus is the most common form. And unfortunately has no clear objective cause like in the types above and this makes it significantly harder to treat and will definitely be the type that we're focusing our discussion on today.
Sensory tinnitus this one's similar to subjective tinnitus. However, this form is rooted in physical damage to the inner ear and is often associated with true hearing loss.
Traditional Treatments for Tinnitus:
-Hearing Aids to mask that whooshing sound
-cognitive behavioral therapy for coping strategies
Neither of these is that effective. And they certainly don't address the root cause of tinnitus.
They are really just coping strategies and as a functional nutrition provider, I think you and I can do better than that. But before we move on to my three possible tinnitus remedies, it's important that we understand the root cause of tinnitus so that we know how best to tackle it.
Root Cause of Tinnitus
What causes tinnitus? as we discussed earlier, there are some physical causes of tinnitus, but we're going to be focusing on subjective tinnitus, which is the most common one and challenging to solve.
Now, one thing that's important to note is that there are still a lot of things that we don't know about tinnitus, but here are some associated things that we know so far:
Tinnitus and other forms of hearing loss can sometimes result from simple nutritional deficiencies, such as vitamins, A, C, D, and E our B vitamins, zinc, magnesium, selenium, iron CoQ10 iodine, omega 3, fatty acids, and protein.
If any of these deficiencies seem like they could be happening to you, I highly recommend that you connect with us at Oswald digestive clinic so that we can help you out, run some testing, and definitely dig into this further.
Inflammation could also be the root cause of tinnitus. Inflammation is a common topic in our functional nutrition practice because it is at the root of nearly all chronic diseases. And tinnitus is no different.
In a 2022 systematic review, a meta-analysis found a clear association between acute tinnitus and elevated inflammatory markers like TNF-alpha and Interleukin-1β (IL-1), both of these markers impact NMDA and GABA receptors, which can lead to an increase in excitatory brain impulses in a decrease in inhibitory brain impulses.
And when this happens, neural and synaptic plasticity or just physical changes in the brain can occur and ultimately lead to tinnitus.
It has been hypothesized that coffee or caffeine should make tinnitus worse due to its effect on increasing blood pressure. However, most studies are fairly inconclusive and only one study actually showed improvement in symptoms with higher caffeine consumption. So the jury is still out on this one.
3 Possible Tinnitus Remedies
1. Addressing nutrient deficiencies and using targeted supplements.
As I mentioned earlier, there are some nutrient deficiencies like zinc, iron, B12, or vitamin D that are associated with incidents of tinnitus. Interestingly though, studies that have focused on nutrient supplementation have been fairly inconclusive in showing any benefit in improving tinnitus.
Therefore it could be that the underlying cause of why there are nutrient deficiencies in the first place is what's driving the tinnitus rather than the actual nutrient deficiencies. Often I will see nutrient deficiencies in those with a poor diet, chronic inflammation, or poor gut health.
If this seems like what's going on in your case, I would love to help you get to the bottom of it at Oswald digestive clinic.
The second portion of this first possible tinnitus remedy is using a specific supplement, and there are actually a lot of supplements out there that claim to improve tinnitus, but there really isn't much research to support them except for two.
And even for these two, the evidence isn't very strong, but they're worth talking about.
The first is pine bark extract whose active component is Pycnogenol. This component is an antioxidant that is known to promote the health of blood vessels and overall vascular health. So it makes sense that it could help with tinnitus.
The research behind this one is still fairly weak, but it might be worth a try.
Melatonin is a common supplement used to promote sleep. One study found a subjective improvement in tinnitus symptoms by 40% in those who took just three milligrams of melatonin for one month compared to a 22% improvement in those who took the placebo pill.
If you'd like to give melatonin a try and improve your sleep in the process, we have some of our favorite products:
2. Melatonin 3
3. Melatonin 20
2. Reducing inflammation
As we discussed earlier, inflammation can be a big player in triggering tinnitus and inflammation can come from many different areas, such as high blood sugar or toxins, or even just stress.
But the largest impact typically comes from the food that we eat, the standard American diet or the sad diet is typically filled with inflammatory foods, such as processed carbohydrates, simple sugars, gluten, inflammatory seed oils, artificial colors, and many more.
Food sensitivities are also becoming more and more common due to poor gut health and consuming these foods that you've developed a sensitivity to can also trigger inflammation.
So where do we start to reduce inflammation?
A great place to start is shopping the perimeter of the grocery store, avoiding those tempting center aisles, cooking from scratch and focusing on quality healing, whole foods, and then eliminating things like gluten, sugar, and inflammatory seed oil.
So things like soybean oil, canola oil, and cottonseed oil to name if few. So that's a great place to start. And I'd like to challenge you to take a pick at the items in your fridge, in your pantry. And I'm sure that most of them have some form of gluten, sugar, or inflammatory oils in them.
They are very common additives and processed foods like chips, crackers, and even things like salad dressings, and Mayo. Instead, we want to be focusing on quality meats or organic, pasture-raised, grass-fed, wild-caught, whenever possible organic produce and healthy fats like avocados, grass-fed ghee, coconut oil, cold press, olive oil, nuts, and seeds.
So what this would look like in action is having organic pasture-raised eggs with a vegetable hash for breakfast, having a kale salad with your favorite chopped veggies and a homemade olive oil dressing, and thinly sliced organic grass-fed steak for lunch followed by roasted sweet potatoes, and bell peppers with some baked salmon for dinner sounds delicious.
Eating whole foods is a great way to reduce inflammation and improve your health, including that bothersome tinnitus. If this seems overwhelming to you, we'd love to help you out at Oswald digestive clinic.
Once you've tackled eating whole foods, that's always step number one. Then you can start thinking about other supplements to further reduce inflammation if it's even needed at that point. Some great inflammation-fighting options are curcumin ginger or fish oil.
Probiotics can also help if you're looking for some recommendations on these anti-inflammatory supplements. I have a few of my favorites, check this out:
ANTI-INFLAMMATORY SUPPLEMENT OPTIONS:
If you're overweight or obese, engaging in weight loss is another great way to reduce inflammation. Yep. You heard me right. Excess fat actually releases its own inflammatory cytokines.
A recent 2021 study on obese individuals found that those who engaged in the diet in physical activity experienced a significant improvement in their tinnitus score compared to those in the control group.
And interestingly, within that intervention group, the improvement was even more pronounced in those that lost greater than 5% of their weight compared to those that lost less than 5% of their weight.
Lastly, another often forgotten trigger for inflammation is poor gut health. That's right about 70% of our immune system is in our gut. So if our gut's disrupted, then our immune system is disrupted, which can result in inflammation, just running wild.
Our gut itself can also be a source of inflammation. Our gut contains a complex microbiome, which is a wide variety of different beneficial bacteria. However, our gut flora, or our gut garden, as I like to call it can sometimes become imbalanced with bad types of bacteria as well.
When this occurs, we can experience leaky gut GI symptoms and of course, inflammation at Oswald Digestive Clinic, we are experts at balancing these gut issues and battling inflammation.
So the idea of tackling all this on your own seems overwhelming, and we would love to help you. We can run comprehensive testing, like stool tests or food sensitivity tests to get to the bottom of your symptoms.
3. Reducing stress
Stress itself is inflammatory and can disrupt our gut, which I'm sure doesn't come, as a surprise, and let's be honest. I know this one is easier said than done, but it does work.
When I notice my tinnitus flaring. I'll often notice that I'm tense, and holding my breath, or doing shallow breathing by pausing and taking some deep cleansing calming breaths the tinnitus tends to die down.
Getting into a daily routine of incorporating stress-relieving techniques is something that I commonly include in my work with my clients. There are a lot of different techniques out there and you may need to try a few of them until you're able to find one that works well for you.
Stress-relieving techniques are a lot like exercise. Someone might prefer jogging while another prefers weight lifting. Yet another prefers Pilates. You have to try out a few until you find a good fit that you enjoy and can be consistent with.
Techniques to reduce stress
Guided meditation. This one can be particularly helpful and you don't have to do a marathon meditation of 30 minutes to make a difference. Even five minutes has been shown to be beneficial.
There are some great apps out there that can guide you through the process like Headspace and Calm App that you can download on your phone and give a try today.
Deep belly breathing. That is one of my favorites and it's something you can incorporate anywhere at work, in your car, before bed, you name it.