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Tinnitis: Stopping the Ongoing Noise in the Head

Sleeping fennec foxI have often had people inquire how to stop the ringing in their ears, specifically wondering if any kinds of foods will help alleviate this annoying and sometimes painful condition.  Ringing can be just a slight noise or may be a high pitched, squealing, buzzing, throbbing, ticking, or hissing sound.

Ringing in the ears, called tinnitus, may begin from many different causes:  low stomach acid (HCL-hydrochloric acid) which causes a loss of Vitamin B12 absorption, damage or injury to the head affecting inner ear membranes and bones, chronic ear infections, wax buildup, loud noise exposure, long term use of certain medications such as NSAIDS (aspirin), antidepressants, sedatives, or antibiotics.  Also associated with tinnitus might be nutritional deficiencies, dysfunction of the thyroid gland that regulates many systems in the body, diabetes, autoimmune disorders, TMJ dysfunction, and perhaps allergies.

Vitamin B12 is associated with supporting healthy nerves and nerve communication pathways.  Deficiencies of B12 have been associated with hearing loss.  Methylcobalamin is the preferred B12 vitamin rather than cyanocobalamin as the methyl molecule is a cofactor in protecting nerve sheaths.  Foods containing Vitamin B12 include meat products, fish, eggs, cheese, shellfish, and foods fortified with B12.  For these, check which form for best absorption.  All B vitamins work best together, so a B-complex form would be a good choice insuring at least 50 mg of each B.

Deficiency of magnesium has been linked to tinnitus.  Magnesium plays a part of over 300 chemical reactions in the body.  Our standard American diet is often quite deficient in magnesium.  Foods rich in magnesium include almonds, cashews, avocados, carrots, collard greens, kale, many beans, peas, dark leafy greens, spinach, brown rice, and wheat germ, to name a few. Eating mixed green salads and lots of vegetables will improve hearing loss as well as overall health.

Ginkgo biloba extract (GBE) has been used in some trials and proven somewhat effective especially if a person suffers any kind of cardiovascular insufficiency as GBE increases cerebral blood flow improving oxygen and glucose utilization.  The side effects of GBE are improved memory, improved circulation, improved vision, improved sexual function, and improvement with some allergic and asthmatic conditions due to its ability be fight off free radicals in our system.  Who wouldn’t want all these positive side effects?

When considering any of these suggestions for addressing tinnitus, it is best to consult with your primary care physician, a naturopathic physician, and/or a nutritionist trained in the use of whole foods and supplements.

Krystle Shapiro, LMT, MSHN, owns Touchstone Massage Therapies and Nutrition Plus!  Please visit for other articles by Krystle and all council members.  She may be reached at 208/290-6760.

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