In this article I would like to write about an alternative, or home based treatment of tinnitus. An estimated 750 million people around the world suffer from tinnitus! For many of these it has a serious and sometimes devastating impact on their quality of life.
What prompted me to look at this subject was a conversation with a friend who started suffering with tinnitus some months ago, and whilst doctors do not seem to be helping him too much, I thought I would do some research on the subject. I should add at the start that whilst what follows is, I believe, good advice, prevention is always better than the cure! The earlier we think about the benefits of a vegan lifestyle the greater impact it can have on our bodies. Having said that, it is never too late to start, just better the earlier we do! I should also add that a vegan diet can not cure all ilness, this included. Our hearing often deteriorates with age and is indiscriminate in that for some it will come earlier and others much later or not at all.
Understanding tinnitus and it’s effects.
So what is tinnitus? Tinnitus is the term for hearing sounds that come from inside the body, rather than from an outside source. These are sometimes described as “phantom” sounds. It is often described as “ringing in the ears” although this varies from person to person. For some, several different sounds can be heard, including buzzing, humming, grinding, hissing, and whistling. Some people may hear sounds similar to music or singing. For others it is noises that beat in time with their pulse (pulsatile tinnitus). The majority of sufferers feel that their “outside” hearing is not as good as it used to be, but others, though a small minority, become more sensitive to everyday sounds and can find these an additional burden.
In some extreme cases this tinnitus can be a very real distraction from their daily activities and can cause what is often described as “brain fog.” Where people suffering from it feel they are no longer as focused on what thy were once able to concentrate on. For some people the root cause is an infection or inflammation in the sinuses. If the sinuses are not draining well, then pressure is created on the inner ear and deafness and tinnitus can follow. The way to reduce inflammation of and the chances of infection in, the sinuses are the same as those shown below in relation to the general terms of tinnitus. I make no excuse for repeating here that the first advice for such people, indeed anyone with tinnitus should be to consult their doctor. But what if this does not resolve the issues?
The cure and management of tinnitus.
Tinnitus is not classified as an illness but rather a symptom. As such there is no universal “cure” for tinnitus, which is characterised as chronic if it continues for more than three months. Indeed, many people suffer tinnitus for many years of their life without relief. To go about reducing or removing tinnitus we need to identify the cause. Some causes include ear infections, stress and brain tumours. There are also cases either caused or exacerbated by high blood pressure. Please see my other article on blood pressure and a later comment in this article. For many there is no universal cause but it is closely associated with hearing loss, often age related hearing loss. But that only helps so far. For some, but by no means all people, it is a symptom of another underlying problem, that if resolved can diminish the impact of tinnitus. So the advice is (again) always to contact a doctor about tinnitus. Though unfortunately for a large number, like my friend, it is not easily resolved by a doctor.
The relationship between diet and tinnitus.
A “traditional” diet including meat, fish, and other animal based products such as cheese, eggs and milk carries an awful lot of fat. For example cow’s milk carries up to ten times the amount of some types of fat compared to human breast milk. Not only that, because the cow has recently given birth (and will again be pregnant shortly, – it has no choice but to be artificially inseminated.) It also carries a huge amount of female and growth hormones, along with other things like pus, as it is being over-milked and additives to keep the animals reasonably productive, such as antibiotics. I will be looking in detail at cows milk versus human milk in another article. We can reduce the fat by skimming off some of the cream but what of these other items? And that example is just for milk. Our bodies cannot use all of the fat, protein or often indeed, all the total calories we ingest on such a diet.
Our bodies have to store this excess somewhere, which can lead to the accumulation of plaque within blood vessels around our body, (as well as fat stores in other areas like around our internal organs and under the skin, like in our “belly” or “love handles”). This means not only that our hearts have to work harder to push the blood through this smaller space in the blood vessel, but the various organs and tissues are sometimes being starved of all the oxygen they need and is also struggling to remove the toxins from the cells that would normally be removed as a procedure from the flow of blood taking away to the liver and kidneys for example.
With the increasing popularity of the vegan diet and its numerous health benefits being recognized worldwide is no wonder people are exploring its potential impact on various conditions including tinnitus.
Another friend of mine had such plaque in main artery in the neck (the carotid arteries.) This meant that she could hear her heart pumping the blood through this artery her every waking moment, until the surgeons operated on her under general anaesthetic and “cleaned” the artery! As this was the case in her main arteries that carried blood to her brain, just think where else might such excess be stored? Of course many of these blocked or partly blocked arteries and veins come under the subject of heart disease, which I do not want to dwell on in this article. However the same route cause may well be the, or one of, the main causes of tinnitus.
Recent research suggests that healthy choices like a vegan diet can play a large role in managing the symptoms of tinnitus as abovementioned. Another key factor linking diet and tinnitus is inflammation. Chronic inflammation can exacerbate tinnitus symptoms and contribute to its progression. A vegan diet which includes vegetables, whole grains and legumes offer a wealth of naturally occurring anti-inflammatory compounds that can help reduce inflammation throughout the body. If you would like a list of specific fruits and vegetables that contribute in which way please message me. I could list them here, but such a list would not make interesting reading!
Furthermore oxidative stress, (which basically means we have too many toxins or free radicals in the body or certain parts of the body, and not enough antioxidants to combat and remove them,) has been identified as another contributing factor in tinnitus development. As I have already stated, antioxidants are found in abundancy in plant-based foods, these help combat this oxidative stress and protect against cellular damage. So it follows that by following a vegan diet individuals with tinnitus can increase their intake of these beneficial compounds and potentially alleviate many of the symptoms or at least the serious extent of them.
Omega-3 Fatty acids a key player in reducing the symptoms.
Among the various components of a vegan diet that may be particularly beneficial for sufferers, are Omega-3 fatty acids. These essential fats have shown promise in reducing inflammation and improving blood
flow to the ear – both important factors for reducing the symptoms. While commonly associated with fish based sources such as salmon or mackerel, vegans can obtain Omega-3 from plant based sources like chia seeds, flaxseeds, walnuts and seaweed. After all, as reported elsewhere in this website, fish cannot produce Omega-3. They only store it from the food they or their prey eat. This mainly comprises of seaweed and algae. Of course with farmed fish it is not so easy for the fish to get this natural product. Therefore they are given artificial Omega-3 as additives. We vegans can also get Omega-3 supplements, but again I would respectfully suggest that you read the label if you choose this option and obtain a vegan source. In addition to Omega-3 fatty acids certain nutrients play crucial roles in maintaining our health and reducing tinnitus symptoms.
Other plant based foods that promote ear health and otherwise reduce tinnitus symptoms
Vitamin B-12 deficiency has been linked to increased risks of hearing loss and worsening tinnitus symptoms. Vegans need to ensure they receive adequate amounts through fortified foods, such as plant based milk or supplements, personally I do both. Zinc is another micronutrient essential for proper auditory function, plant based sources include legumes such as chickpeas or lentils.
Real Life success stories
There are several accounts of individuals who have switched to a plant based lifestyle and then experienced a decrease in tinnitus severity and an overall improvement in their wellbeing. Indeed some find it to have been eradicated! However, further research is needed to establish a direct causal relationship here, though these personal experiences provide hope for those seeking natural approaches to managing their condition.
Adopting a vegan diet can offer potential benefits for individuals experiencing tinnitus. By reducing inflammation, combating oxidative stress and incorporating the nutrients found abundantly in plant based foods, individuals may experience relief from the tinnitus symptoms. If you are considering dietary changes as part of your tinnitus management strategy, consulting with a healthcare professional, or registered dietitian is always recommended for personal guidance. You should also (again) be aware that tinnitus may be just one symptom of another illness so it is even more important to seek guidance from the medical profession. In addition there are many benefits to a vegan diet, combatting tinnitus is only one of them.
If you have tried all the above or are switching to a vegan diet to achieve it, you could of course combine this healthier lifestyle change with other options. There are a couple of options of additional products that can help some people.
The first in in the form of a vegan plant based medicine. My impression is that whilst it can be useful for tinnitus it is also aimed at those who feel they are losing their hearing and even experiencing “brain fog”, I cannot recommend this for anyone personally as I have no experience of it myself, but it does come highly recommended to me. If you would like to take a look at this product please click on this link and learn more about it.
If you have any questions on a vegan diet please drop me a message and I will do my best to answer them. This is a subject I am passionate about and am growing more knowledgeable all the time by living and studying it.