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Ringing in the ears, tinnitus, or “Karna Nada” in Ayurveda affects more than 50 million adults in the US. (1) According to one study, the most common causes of ringing in the ears are:
- Exposure to loud noises on a regular basis, such as loud music or in the workplace (1)
- One time loud noise exposure, such as a firearm (1)
- High blood pressure (1)
- Anxiety and worry (1)
- Smoking (1)
- Medications (1)
- Thyroid issues (2)
- Hormonal imbalances (2)
- Brain tumors or a neuroma – auditory nerve tumor (1,2,4)
- Age-related stiffening of the bones of the inner ear (4)
- TMJ or jaw-related issues (4)
Chronic ear infection, ear wax buildup, and diseases of the heart or blood vessels are also common clinical findings that are linked to tinnitus. (2) As both tinnitus and medication use increase with aging, your medications may be the very first factor to be evaluated. According to the National Institutes of Health, there are over 200 medications linked to tinnitus. (2)
Please scan the list from the 2009 Physician’s Desk Reference for medications that may be contributing to your tinnitus. (3)
Sadly, western medicine has not been able to offer more than palliative care such as hearing aids, counseling, biofeedback and white noise generators to mask the sound.
Understanding The Cause of Tinnitus
The most common cause of tinnitus is cochlear damage associated with noise-related hearing loss. Tiny, delicate hairs in your inner ear move in relation to the pressure of sound waves. When these hairs vibrate as a result of a sound or noise, they trigger an electrical signal through the auditory nerve to the brain, where it is interpreted as an intelligible sound. If the hairs inside your inner ear are bent or broken, they can trigger random electrical impulses to your brain, causing tinnitus. This, however, is not the only cause. In many cases, the cause is never able to be fully diagnosed.
Other causes of tinnitus include other ear problems, chronic health conditions, and injuries or conditions that affect the nerves in your ear or the hearing center in your brain.
Bringing the Body Back Into Balance
In Ayurveda, when the nervous system goes out of balance, a vata imbalance is implied. Vata is governed by air and sound, which make hearing one of the classic areas for a vata imbalance to manifest. There are many strategies recommended to bring the body’s vata back into balance and support the peripheral auditory system of otherwise healthy individuals suffering from acute, subjective tinnitus or mild tinnitus due to age-related hearing loss.
Some of the general vata-balancing therapies may not seem directly related to the ears, but we must first start with some general lifestyle therapies.
Here are my top 5 vata-balancing lifestyle therapies:
1. Eat three relaxing meals each day with no snacks, no sugar.
2. Go to bed early—before 10PM and get up with the sun.
4. Meditate twice daily for 10-20 minutes. (See my One Minute Meditation to start, or take our Transformational Awareness Technique online meditation eCourse.
5. Give yourself a daily Ayurvedic oil massage (abhyanga) with LifeSpa Lymphatic Massage Oil. >>> Learn how to perform abhyanga here
Next are my top 5 techniques to directly access the vata in the inner ear, head and neck:
6. Garlic oil drops in the ears each night before bed, called “Karna Purana.”
Recipe: Put one bottle of LifeSpa Nasya Oil in a pot with two peeled garlic cloves. Heat slowly while pressuring the garlic cloves. When they stop popping due to the heat, the water is boiled off and it is done. Let it cool and put the garlic oil back in the bottle to be used before bed.
7. Garlic oil ear massage in the shower daily. While showering, fill both ears with garlic oil (as above). You can use plain LifeSpa Nasya Oil if the garlic smell is too potent.
- Close both ear flaps and massage deeply but comfortably for 1 minute on both ears. Each day massage out any sore areas.
- Next, for one minute, massage all the soreness out of the entire ear itself.
- Then, for one minute, massage any soreness found where the skull and ear meet.
8. Oil Pulling is a technique where you swish herbalized oil in the mouth for 10-15 minutes daily, often done while in the shower. This is a well-documented technique for oral hygiene, but also one of the most effective means to bring vata back into balance in the head and neck. (5) >>> Learn more about oil pulling here
9. Super-Nasya. Recently, lymphatic vessels that drain toxins from the brain were discovered at the University of Virginia. These vessels are in the exact same location Vedic texts described thousands of years ago. (7) Ayurveda also described a technique to detoxify this brain-lymph that is still practiced today.
Learn how to perform this super-nasya therapy by watching my video and reading my article on this powerful Ayurvedic therapy to balance the vata in the head, neck and cervical lymphatics that drain inner ear. >>> Learn how to do super-nasya here
10. Nasal Breathing Exercise has been shown to slow brain waves, de-stress the body and stimulate the parasympathetic nervous system that rebuilds the body and balances vata or the nervous system. (6)
- Go for a walk and breathe as deeply in and out as possible through the nose for the first 5-10 minutes of your exercise. Walk slowing and focus on your deep nasal breathing.
- Next, begin to walk faster but keep the same long, slow deep rhythm through the nose as you pick up the pace.
- If you see that you are having to take more shallow nose breaths to keep the pace — slow down and reset the breath to the original slow nasal breath rate.
- Continue this for a minimum of 20 minutes each day.
Disclaimer: Individuals experiencing tinnitus should see their physician or a hearing health professional for a full examination to diagnose the underlying cause of symptoms. In some cases, resolving the root cause will alleviate the perception of tinnitus. If you are worried about tinnitus as a side effect of your medications, please consult your prescribing physician or pharmacist. You should not stop taking any medication without first consulting with your healthcare provider. The risks of stopping a medication may far exceed any potential benefit. Tinnitus does not have a cure yet, but treatments that help many people cope better with the condition are available. Most doctors will offer a combination of treatments, depending on the severity of your tinnitus and the areas of your life it affects the most.