Listen Your Way to a Healthy Brain
In a study published by the Journal of American Medicine (JAMA), researchers studied nearly 2,000 seniors in an attempt to link age-related hearing loss to cognitive decline.1 Until now, there was no known link between hearing and cognitive function.
After following these seniors for 11 years, the folks with hearing loss had accelerated brain atrophy and a 24% decrease in cognitive ability, suggesting if hearing is supported during the aging process, cognitive health could be maintained.
Dr. Frank Lin, lead researcher in this study, suggests when hearing is impaired, a garbled signal is sent to the brain. Neuroimaging studies show the brain is forced to work very hard to interpret these garbled signals. Dr. Lin suggests this extra effort to hear comes at the expense of other brain functions, such as memory and cognitive function.
Age-related hearing loss can also socially isolate the elderly, as they are not able to engage in a number of conversations or social interactions.
If you want to support healthy hearing and cognitive brain function, try these Ayurvedic strategies to support healthy hearing.
Ayurvedic Ear Care
Ayurvedic therapy for the ears is an integral part of a healthy daily routine. It is called karna purana—thoroughly massaging the ears with medicated oil.3
The skin is a hotbed for beneficial microbes, especially in orifices like the nose, armpits, groin, and ears.4 We know little about the microbes that live on the surface of the skin, but we suspect they play a key role in health and immunity, much like microbes in the intestinal tract.
We also know there are small bones in the inner ear, called ossicles, which vibrate when hit by soundwaves. These bones stimulate nerve endings, transmitting signals to the brain. From the Ayurvedic perspective, the ear skin and the ossicles easily dry out, compromising functionality. This is part of a vata imbalance in Ayurveda. Vata is a governing principle in nature akin to air, and, when aggravated, can dry the body out. Oil is the vata antidote for dryness in the body.
Once again, the key here, from the Ayurvedic perspective, is to care for your orifices throughout your life—and not just when they go out of whack. Karna purana (ear oiling) is meant to be a daily practice.
How To: Ear Oiling (Karna Purana)
Step 1: It’s best to use a herbalized oil. These are more moisturizing than a plain vegetable oil. I suggest LifeSpa’s Tri-Doshic Massage Oil. It is easiest to do this in the shower, although that is not required. In the morning, using a dropper, fill the ear canal with warm oil. You can do both ears at the same time.
Step 2: Close the ear flap and, using medium pressure, gently massage the ear canal by pressing on the ear flap in a circular motion. Continue this for one minute. If there is pain, stop, and have this checked by your doctor.
Step 3: Gently massage the cartilage of the ear (the whole ear) using the thumb and index finger, rubbing out any tender areas. Continue for one minute.
Step 4: Gently massage around the entire ear where the ear meets the skull. Gently massage out any tender or sore areas. Continue for one minute.
If you try karna purana, let me know how it makes you feel! It is often the parts of our body we neglect that end up hurting us down the line, so give some love to your precious ears.