Natural Remedies for Tinnitus
Concerns and Considerations
Those seeking tinnitus relief may see advertisements for "miracle cures" or "natural remedies" in the form of vitamins, herbs for tinnitus, tinnitus homeopathic remedies, and other kinds of pills. Patients may wonder whether these could help them, and may be tempted to "try anything" to make their tinnitus go away. Some people also are wary of prescription medications, and feel drawn toward treatments that seem more "natural". However, "natural" remedies are not necessarily harmless.
Tinnitus Treatment Solutions cautions users to use common sense and do adequate research before using an over-the-counter tinnitus remedy such as a pill or herbal supplement. Many such products lack scientific testing or proof of clinical efficacy. Use of such products may be ineffective, worsen one's tinnitus, or be potentially dangerous.
Over-the-counter supplements, vitamins for tinnitus, and other sorts of tinnitus home remedies are not regulated by the FDA the same way that pharmaceuticals and medical devices are. Instead, they are classified by the FDA as "food", and therefore do not require the same rigorous testing and labeling as medications.
Ingredients and Safety
There are currently over 40 different tinnitus treatment products on the market. In total, these include over 190 different ingredients. Some products have just one or two ingredients, while others have more than 30. Most lack explanation as to exactly how these treat tinnitus, and the number of adverse events associated with taking such over the counter supplements is increasing. On the FDA website users can type in the name of a supplement to see whether it has been subject to warnings, alerts or voluntary recalls.
A look at some of the ingredients found in common over the counter "natural" tinnitus remedies is concerning. For example, some compounds included are known to be toxic or poisonous. Others, such as quinine, are known to actually cause tinnitus. Many are simply considered ineffective, such as zinc and ginkgo (as noted on the WebMD website and other sources.) While many modern medications do in fact come from plants, and there are centuries-old traditions in which natural materials are used (such as in the Ayurvedic tradition) many unscrupulous sellers of commercial supplements unfortunately muddy the waters, creating doubt and valid fears as to the safety and legitimacy of unregulated treatments. It is virtually impossible to distinguish the quality of one remedy from another. Be alert to claims that sound unrealistic or too good to be true, especially those offering a "cure", instant or fast relief, or guaranteed results. A U.S. consumer who experiences a bad reaction to a supplement may report it to the FDA by calling (1-800-FDA-1088) or online via the FDA's adverse event system.
Mechanism of Action
Some natural tinnitus remedies are in pill form, which means that their effects are systemic: You consume the pill, digest the pill, and your whole body system is subject to the effects of the pill. In addition to risk associated with ingredients, dosage, and interactions, one cannot know if these are intended for a fast release, or a slow release. Nor can one know how long it takes for the ingredients to clear the body.
Other natural tinnitus remedies are local, such as substances you are supposed to put in your ear canal, supposedly to have an effect through the skin. These include drops and oils. A brief internet search reveals recipes for tinnitus treatments based on the topical application of almond oil, castor oil, garlic oil, olive oil, and sesame oil. However, clear scientific explanations describing exactly how plant-based oils or drops can be absorbed by the skin within the ear canal to relieve tinnitus are lacking.
For patients who believe they have found relief using tinnitus supplements or tinnitus herbs, it is possible that they are experiencing what is known as a "placebo effect". A placebo is "a simulated or otherwise medically ineffectual treatment for a disease or other medical condition intended to deceive the recipient. Sometimes patients given a placebo treatment will have a perceived or actual improvement in a medical condition, a phenomenon commonly called the placebo effect." (Definition from Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Placebo) This effect shows the significance of one's perception about their condition. Often this effect wears off over time.
Questions to ask before self medicating with a "natural" tinnitus treatment pill:
- What ingredients are in this pill? How much of each ingredient is included?
- What adverse effects are associated with these ingredients?
- Could there be any undeclared or deceptively labeled ingredients in this pill? Are you willing to accept that risk? Does the manufacturer provide product specifications for the identity, purity, strength, and composition of the pills?
- Is the label written in a language you can understand?
- What are the possible interactions between the different ingredients? What are the possible interactions with other medications you may be taking?
- Who selected the ingredients and amounts? Does the manufacturer have a Medical Advisory Board of qualified medical doctors?
- What reference materials does the manufacturer provide? Are there documented safety and efficacy studies available? If yes, are they recent, or decades old? If you request reference materials, is the manufacturer willing to share them?
- If the pill contains plant material, where were the plants grown? Have they been chemically treated, for example with pesticides or other chemicals?
- Where were the pills, or their individual ingredients, produced? How were they manufactured, stored, and shipped? Have they been processed in a clean environment and handled by workers following sanitary procedures? Have they been screened for contaminants?
- What dosage is recommended, and why? For example, would a 130 pound person take the same dose as a person weighing 165, or 200 pounds? How is dosage determined? Can a pregnant or breast-feeding woman take these pills safely? How about a diabetic? Has this been tested and confirmed?
- Are there any contraindications to taking these pills?
Other Natural Tinnitus Remedies and Therapies
Not all "natural" remedies come in the form of pills or herbs. Sound therapy is natural. It has been used to help tinnitus patients for many years, and does not involve surgery or drugs. Sound therapy is available in many forms, including noise machines, CDs, noise embedded in hearing aids, therapy tones combined with music, or even just turning on a fan or air conditioner to provide background sounds. S-Tones on the SoundCure Serenade device are a newer form of sound therapy, specifically developed by university hearing researchers to help tinnitus patients.
Some patients also try acupuncture, yoga, hypnotherapy, or meditation. Many tinnitus patients find that relaxation can help relieve symptoms, so find ways to relax such as through exercise, getting out into nature, spending time at the beach, listening to gentle music, or engaging in other recreational pursuits. Each person is different, so it is important to try different things to see what works for you.
Talk to your Audiologist
Talk to your audiologist for more answers. Always tell your audiologist if you are taking any medications, whether over-the-counter or prescribed. Some medications are known to contribute to tinnitus, so knowing what you are taking can help your audiologist to determine the possible cause of your tinnitus, and the best course of treatment for you.
Contact us to learn more. Speak to an audiologist who is a tinnitus expert to have your questions answered, and find out whether you may be a clinically suitable candidate for a free, no-obligation, 30-day trial of the Serenade sound therapy device.