Exposure to sudden, loud music or explosive noises can cause tinnitus, a nerve disorder that involves a consistent ringing sound in a person’s ears. At its worse, tinnitus can lead to deafness. Tinnitus affects one in 10 people, and can range from mild to chronic. While it is a common problem for veterans and the elderly, other common causes include whiplash or even dental work. However, there is evidence that if caught early, tinnitus can be improved and eventually cured with the use of natural medicine, such as acupuncture and certain vitamins.
Traditional Chinese Medicine Approaches to Treating Tinnitus
Tinnitus is linked to nerve and touch sensitivity. For some people, clenching one’s jaws or applying pressure to the neck can bring on or reduce tinnitus episodes. Acupuncture patients with this disorder will have a high response rate to the nerve’s natural response to pressure and the disorder’s sensitivity to certain points. The practice of acupuncture is based on the stimulation of certain points on the body, as well as meridians and channels. Stimulating specific points (which are determined based on the patient’s unique case) can rebalance the qi (one’s life force) and alleviate the source of the problem. It is integral in traditional Chinese medicine to treat the origin of an ailment as well as the symptoms, and TCM has several theories as to what causes tinnitus. For example, in more temporary cases of tinnitus, high emotional strain or sudden anger can lead to a ringing in the ears.
The Role of Diet in Managing Tinnitus
Also, diet can have an effect. Practitioners of TCM believe that excessive greasy foods or irregular eating can lead to Phlegm (a TCM term that commonly refers to a retention in body fluid), which prevents the rising of clear qi to the head (resulting in the “phantom noise” associated with tinnitus). Overworking or excessive physical strain can lead to a nerve disturbance, causing tinnitus. Lastly, trauma is a common cause of the ringing noise associated with this disorder.
Acupuncture’s Role in Treating Tinnitus and Related Conditions
A jarring physical episode, especially one that involves explosive noises, can alter a person’s hearing. Veterans are a large population of people suffering from tinnitus. According to the American Tinnitus Association, the number of veterans receiving disability for tinnitus has increased by 18 percent each year since the year 2000. There is also a link between the nerves involved in tinnitus and those involved with TMJ (temporomandibular joint syndrome), a condition that causes pain and some dislocation in the jaw. Acupuncture can relieve chronic pain, and also help alleviate the root of these two nerve conditions.
Alternative Dietary Interventions and Limitations of Western Medicine
Another alternative treatment for tinnitus is to supplement one’s diet with lipoflavonoids. Lipoflavonoids are a combination of B vitamins that can strengthen the blood vessels that deliver nutrients to the hearing nerves. Also, altering one’s diet by limiting salt and caffeine, which may over stimulate ocular nerves, may also restore the inner ear fluid balance – helping the nerves to function properly. Western medicine is limited in its treatment options for tinnitus, no prescription drug is available for this condition. However, with careful management and the natural remedies found in traditional Chinese medicine, there is a resource waiting to be tapped.
“What’s My Alternative? Tinnitus” Natural Solutions. April 2009.