The term tinnitus is derived from Latin and means "to ring like a bell," although sufferers report hearing a variety of sounds, from buzzing and humming to clanging and roaring. There is generally no external source for these sounds; instead, the auditory nerve transmits impulses to the brain, which perceives them as persistent ringing or other noises. While the symptoms of this condition may vary, what is common among those who have it is the impact it has on their lives - often disrupting work and sleep. One of the most common causes of tinnitus is exposure to loud noises, such as rock music or gunshots. However, even an allergy or simple buildup of earwax can cause your ears to ring. Some medicines can also provoke tinnitus. Or, in rare cases, it could be a symptom of a more serious condition, such as Ménière's disease, hypertension, nerve damage or tumors. If a doctor rules out an underlying physical cause, therapies such as diet, herbs, chiropractic and homeopathics may improve or even heal the condition.
Ginkgo Promotes Circulation
Traditional Chinese medicine considers the ears to be part of the kidney meridian, which makes tinnitus a standard kidney symptom. Prescribed in China for thousands of years as a "kidney yin" tonic, the leaves from the ginkgo tree effectively treat tinnitus and other conditions often associated with aging. Its components, especially ginkgolide B, can improve circulation to the brain and deliver more oxygen top the ears. Ginkgo comes in tincture, tea and capsule forms and is available at most health-food stores.
What You Can Do: Tinnitus can be exacerbated by alcohol, caffeine, nicotine and certain types of medication, so reducing your intake of these substances can help to alleviate the condition, Stress, too, can affect ringing in the ears. Stress management and relaxation techniques may be helpful. If the ringing is persistent or if you experience pain or fever, consult a doctor.
Protect Your Ears: Always wear earplugs or some form of ear protection when using lawn mowers, power tools or other loud appliances. The United States Occupational Safety and Healthy Administration (OSHA) recommends using earplugs rated for at least twice as many decibels as you need to ensure protection. When listening to music, keep the volume at a level that allows you to easily hear the telephone and other sounds. When wearing a headset, you should be the only one to hear the music. If someone standing near you can hear it as well, you could very well be causing damage to the cells in your inner ear; these cells translate sound waves into nerve impulses sent to the brain.
Chiropractic Relief: Tinnitus accompanied by muscle pain or spinal problems may indicate that the ringing is a result of a misalignment. Chiropractic treatment of the upper spine, neck and head can provide relief. Manipulation often frees the blockages and reduces the strain in upper-back and neck muscles that could lead to tinnitus.
Extra Tip: Vascular disease, common in the elderly and in heavy smokers, impairs both circulation and oxygen flow, and can cause tinnitus. Certain herbs have been found effective in strengthening blood vessels. Try hawthorn, bilberry or St. John's Wort.
To Promote Calm
If tinnitus is related to stress or anxiety, a tea made from medicinal herbs can be a quick and calming remedy.
1 oz. passionflower leaves
1 oz. peppermint leaves
1 oz. chamomile leaves
1 oz. chamomile flowers
1 oz. hops
Pour 1 cup of boiling water over 3 tbsp. of the tea blend. Steep for 10 minutes; then strain. Drink 1 cup of the tea 3 times daily.
To Reduce Ear Congestion
If the symptoms of tinnitus are related to allergies and congestion in the ears, the following tea may be helpful.
1 oz. nettles
1 oz. eyebright
1 oz. thyme leaves
1 oz. yarrow
4 oz. licorice
Pour 1 cup of boiling water over 1 tbsp. of this herb blend. Steep for 10 minutes; then strain. Drink 1 cup of the tea 4 times daily.
For earwax buildup, do not use cotton swabs, as they can push earwax further into the ear canal. Instead, use either a few drops of hydrogen peroxide or a solution of 1 part vinegar to 1 part warm water. Using an eyedropper, put a few drops in your ears and allow them to settle for a minute; then drain.
Take 5 capsules daily until your specific symptoms subside.
· Aconitum 6X for sudden or nighttime occurrences of tinnitus, or if the ringing is related to anxiety or stress.
· Apis 6X for a buzzing or humming noise that sounds like a swarm of bees.
· Petroleum 6X if the pulsing of blood circulation is audible in the ear.
· China 4X if noise becomes unpleasant due to nervous exhaustion.
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