Are There Supplements for Tinnitus?

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Tinnitus affects 50 million Americans (1), most being between the ages of 40 and 70 (2). Therefore, tinnitus is one of the most common health conditions in the U.S. 

There is currently no cure for tinnitus, so treatments target its symptoms. This article will explore whether herbs and supplements are effective interventions for tinnitus.

*This article contains affiliate links. I may earn a commission from qualifying purchases at no extra cost to you. 

What is Tinnitus 

Tinnitus is a symptom of an issue with the ear, auditory nerve, or sound processing in the brain, which manifests as the perception of sound.  It can occur in only one ear or both.

Sounds heard by those with tinnitus include: 

  • Ringing
  • Buzzing
  • Whistling
  • Hissing
  • Roaring
  • Pulsing
  • Screeching
  • Whooshing
  • Static
  • Crickets
  • Waves

The sounds heard may be:

  • Tonal: a continuous sound
  • Pulsatile: a rhythmic pulsing sound
  • Musical: music and/or singing; however this is rare

Subjective Tinnitus

This is the most common type of tinnitus. Phantom sounds are heard by the sufferer and not others, as they are not caused by any external stimuli. 

Objective Tinnitus

Objective tinnitus is a rare form of tinnitus. Others are able to hear the sound as well using a stethoscope. This occurs when the sound is being caused by blood flow, skeletal movement, or other internal body activity. 

Secondary Tinnitus Symptoms

The “ringing in the ears,” or other sounds that tinnitus causes can lead to secondary symptoms of the condition.

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Irritability 
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Trouble concentrating

Currently there are not any approved medications or treatments for tinnitus directly, so interventions typically target these associated symptoms. 

List of secondary tinnitus symptoms: Tinnitus can lead to: anxiety, depression, irritability, difficulty sleep, trouble concentrating
Tinnitus Secondary Symptoms

Who Gets Tinnitus? 

While the cause of tinnitus is unclear, there are certain traits and conditions that it more frequently occurs in (3)

Tinnitus is associated with:

  • Hearing loss
  • Wax build up
  • Ear infections
  • Meniere’s disease: disorder of the inner ear causing vertigo (spinning sensation) 
  • Brain tumors
  • Thyroid dysfunction
  • Hormonal changes
  • Aging
  • Unemployment
  • Hyperlipidemia: having too much lipids, such as cholesterol or triglycerides, in the blood
  • Osteoarthritis: a type of arthritis when cartilage is worn down
  • Rheumatoid arthritis (RA): when the immune system attacks the joints causing inflammation 
  • Asthma
  • Depression
  • Exposure to loud noises
  • Lower weight/Body Mass Index
List of Tinnitus risk factors
Tinnitus Risk Factors

Supplements & Herbs for Tinnitus

According to the American Academy of Otolaryngology-Head and Neck Surgery Foundation, clinicians should not be recommending dietary supplements for the treatment of tinnitus. 

While some studies indicate possible benefits of natural remedies for tinnitus, further research needs to be done before herbs and supplements are used as mainstream tinnitus treatment. 

Herbs and supplements are not without negative side effects either. Most commonly, the potential for medication interactions. It is important to always consult your healthcare provider prior to implementing supplements. 

Ginkgo Biloba

Ginkgo Biloba supplements are made of the extract from leaves of a ginkgo tree. It has antioxidant and vasodilating (widening of blood vessels) properties.

Some research shows that Ginkgo Biloba may improve tinnitus symptoms of vascular origin (4). However, the majority of evidence does not support its effectiveness (5). It may also increase the risk of bleeding, especially for those taking blood thinners. 

Cistanche Yishen 

Cistanche Herba is a class of Chinese herbal drugs made from a parasitic desert plant, which are thought to have neuroprotective factors. 

Research is limited on chistance use for tinnitus. One study indicates that Cistanche Yishen granules (CYG) may decrease symptoms associated with tinnitus, such as sleep quality and loudness (6)

Gushen Pian

Gushen Pain is a Chinese medical herb made of four plants: Drynariafortunei, Danshen, CalcinedCi Shi and Glycyrrhiza.

While there is minimal research regarding Gushen Pian and tinnitus, some shows possible alleviation of ear fullness, insomnia, and fatigue, without any reported side effects (7)

Zinc 

Zinc is a trace mineral that is needed by the body in small amounts for various body functions. Since zinc plays a role in processes involving the ear and auditory system, it has been thought to have potential as a tinnitus treatment. 

Also, decreased zinc levels are correlated with tinnitus (8).  Unfortunately research has found that the oral supplementation of zinc does not improve tinnitus symptoms (9).  Those it may benefit are individuals with actual zinc deficiency. 

Melatonin

Melatonin is a naturally occurring hormone that helps regulate the sleep cycle and also has antioxidant properties. It may decrease the intensity of tinnitus and improve its associated insomnia (10).  

Amazon has my personal favorite melatonin supplement that you can delivered right to your door.

*This article contains affiliate links. I may earn a commission from qualifying purchases at no extra cost to you. 

Magnesium

Magnesium is a mineral needed for bodily functions such as muscle contractions and proper heart function. It may reduce cochlear (tube in the inner ear, where nerve endings are located) damage, because of its protective properties.

Therefore, it has been thought to be a potential tinnitus treatment (11).  But there is limited evidence available that magnesium helps reduce tinnitus related symptoms (12)

Antioxidant Supplement

Most studies focus on looking at only one vitamin or mineral supplement, rather than supplements with multiple active ingredients. 

There may be more benefit for tinnitus relief using an antioxidant supplement containing vitamins, minerals, phytochemicals and alpha-lipoic acid (ALA) (13)

Acai

Acai (Euterpe Oleracea Martius) is a fruit high in antioxidants. Due to its antioxidant properties it may reduce discomfort from tinnitus (14)

Spirulina

Spirulina is a blue-green algae containing antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory properties. Spirulina extract may reduce some types of tinnitus (15), however studies have primarily only used mice, not humans. 

Vitamin B Complex

It is possible that a B complex vitamin may decrease tinnitus severity (16), however supporting data is limited. 

Vitamin B12

Vitamin B12 deficiency is a possible cause of tinnitus. People who are deficient may experience an improvement in tinnitus symptoms with vitamin B12 supplementation (17)

Final Thoughts

There is currently no cure for tinnitus. Research for effective supplements to manage tinnitus symptoms continues with limited success thus far. 

Newer studies are exploring supplements containing a combination of herbs, vitamins, and minerals, which may offer relief from tinnitus symptoms (18)

Herbs and supplements may have side effects and should not be used without advisement from your healthcare provider. 

Check out this article about tinnitus and diet.

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