From a medical perspective tinnitus is classified as a condition, not a disease. In other words it is not contagious, even though there is a suggestion that there may be familial patterns of occurrence in some families. You may experience uncontrolled and unwanted sounds such as ringing, hissing, clicking, rushing, roaring, pulsating or tapping.
Tinnitus is, however, more than one condition because the causes, signs and symptom may occur differently for each individual. Although we list different kinds of tinnitus, every patients’ experience is unique, so from a naturopathic perspective they must be helped as individuals as there is no one singular, overall treatment.
There are three main causes and theories of tinnitus:
• Persistent unwanted sounds due to trauma and damage to the ears
• Loss of and damage to hearing due to salicylate sensitivity and reactivity
• Misperception of phantom hearing noises in the brain mainly due to hearing loss
Trauma and damage to the ears
Traumas to the hearing system, loss of hearing, tinnitus and the exacerbation of tinnitus occurs due to exposure to extremely loud noises, persistent exposure to loud noises, heat damage to the ears due to very high temperatures or chronic infection, stroke, chronic sinusitis, lymphedema, congenital birth defect, head trauma, continual exposure to air presume changes such as those encountered during airplane flights, compression and damage to the nerves, poisoning, malnutrition, and dysfunction of hearing-related processing centers in the brain.
Salicylate sensitivity and reactivity
The second theory of tinnitus is that some people are highly sensitives to salicylates found in food and when they have not consumed those foods their tinnitus reduces considerably. Salicylates can cause deafness which is why people with tinnitus should avoid aspirin, along with other drugs, foods and herbs containing high salicylates.
The list of plant-based foods containing salicylates generally comes in different levels: no, low, medium and high salicylates. Compose your diet from the no and low salicylate list with just occasionally something from the medium range but never from the high range.
These foods would include banana, pears (peeled), bamboo shoots, cabbage, celery, lentils, lettuce, poppy seeds, hemp seeds (if legal in your state), carob, pawpaw, papaya, cashews, hazelnuts, pecan nuts, sunflower seeds, vanilla, lime, swede, leek, mung bean sprouts, red cabbage, shallots, figs, lemon, mango, passion fruit, persimmon, red delicious apple (peeled), rhubarb, soy oil, sunflower oils, rice and soy milk, dandelion tea, millet, buckwheat, oats, barley, rye, brussels sprouts.
When formulating the way you eat, it is important to include all the colours so you get all the vitamins and minerals you need, such as red cabbage for anthocyanidins that unblock vessels; shoots, sprouts, nuts and seeds which are rich in amino acids; swede for carotenoids which are antioxidants and precursors to vitamin A; greens such as brussel sprouts which are superfoods containing vitamin C, K E, some B’s, folic acid and B6.
Avoid processed, frozen and packet foods and try to buy organic as the nutritional content is far higher. You may also need to supplement with iron, B12, vitamin D and magnesium depending on your blood tests. Refrain from caffeine, alcohol and smoking as all of these will increase the effects of tinnitus directly or indirectly.
In putting your diet together, you must do the research on what foods come under the low and no salicylate list. Then you need to use the test and measure principle. Write down everything you eat and drink. Every day record your level of tinnitus with 1 being mild and 10 being high. Do not stray from your diet and over a long period you will find what foods are working for you and which ones are not.
Phantom sound theory
The third theory of tinnitus is the phantom sound theory. It posits that part of the brain fills in what it thinks are missing sounds in reaction to the loss of incoming sound due to deafness. This theory cannot, however, explain why deaf people may suddenly experience tinnitus. Researchers have found that people do not experience tinnitus during dreaming or when moving in and out of sleep.
Treating tinnitus from a naturopathic perspective
It is import to closely monitor diet for someone suffering tinnitus to eliminate high salicylate rich foods which irritated the condition and makes it worse in many cases. The diet must be anti-inflammatory and high in nutrients. Unfortunately, nearly all doctors and most dietitian do not have the knowledge and time to put such diet together for patients because it needs to be individualized for each patient due to possible other allergies that may be present.
It is also important to run several tests with patients to screen for malnutrition and toxic overload which may be making the problem worse. If you are spending anything of up to $15,000 for hearing aid it will be no good to you if you are not dealing with bodily dysfunction that may have caused or are making the tinnitus worse.
Naturopaths take ask you a hundred and one questions and more. We are information collectors that helps us find out what is happening with your body. You can cope with tinnitus far better and even in some cases eliminate it when you work with profession to find out what is irritating the tinnitus and what makes it better.
Hypnotherapy to treat tinnitus
Hypnotherapy has the ability to help you change and re-contextualise all your sensory experiences fast because those experiences take place in the brain, not in your ears. This includes actual sound and perceived sound. What is also important to be aware of is that stress increases tinnitus and its discomfort and the ability to relax reduces the tinnitus.
In an integrative model of treatment, clinical hypnosis can also reduce stress, anxiety and depression to such an extent that the tinnitus disturbs you less and at times not at all.
The most important thing to remember is: Do not play amateur clinician. Work with a plant-based medical nutritionist and seek a professional hypnotherapist who works with tinnitus.
Do you need some help with managing tinnitus? Call 02 8021 6429 to book a naturopathy consultation with me at my Sydney clinic.