Holistic Solutions For Hearing Loss

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4 Herbs for Hearing Loss

The next question most people ask after causes is “how can you treat the condition?”

Well, there are multiple ways to treat hearing loss such as hearing aids, cochlear implants, surgery, and even herbs.

Herbs?? Yeah!

In the US alone, ¾ of people with hearing impairment choose to go with natural remedies such as the use of herb or changing their nutrition.

Herbs contain vital elements that help prevent or reduce the deterioration of hearing loss. Because we love to see you live a healthy life, we’ve compiled 4 herbs that will help you out of this.

We always advocate that before you start using herbs, you consult your doctor first.

1. Echinacea

Also known as the American coneflower, Echinacea is one of the popular herbs full of health benefits. On top of boosting the immune system and fight symptoms of cold, it also counters other bizarre infections that could lead to hearing loss.

This herb houses antibiotics which help in fighting viruses or germs that can cause inner ear infections. Additionally, it also reduces inflammation of the sinus and ear tissues thus enhancing good hearing sense.

The bitter taste may come as a turn off to many, but the rewards are nothing short of spectacular. You can access it over the counter at supermarkets or pharmacies in form of tea, dried herb, liquid extracts or pills.

2. Ginger

Despite ginger being just an ingredient in Indian foods and Asian stir-fry dishes. Its use dates back to the ancient times as a natural remedy.

Research has shown that ginger has antibiotics and antiviral components that are essential in preventing infections that cause hearing loss. That notwithstanding, the herb regulates and activates nerves that facilitate sound transmission waves to the brain.

3. Turmeric

Indians adore and envy turmeric for its medicinal value. True to their belief it’s classified as one of the best medicinal herb known to man.

It contains bioactive compounds with powerful medicinal properties that assist your brain and body to function in a seamless fashion. Closer home, its rich in potassium mineral which plays an essential role in facilitating healthy ear functioning.

4. Ginkgo Biloba

Tracing its origin in Asia, the Ginkgo herb is harvested from the leaves of the Ginkgo tree. On top of facilitating blood platelets production, this herb knocks down the hearing problem with a single punch.

It has been shown to facilitate proper blood circulation throughout the body and more specifically the ear tissues. Sufficient blood circulation in the ear makes it function more efficiently.

Lastly, Ginkgo gives a hand in relieving ringing in the ears.

4 other natural remedies for hearing loss

1. Essential oils. First, the bad news. There is no research that sensorineural hearing loss can be reversed or treated with essential oils. However, essential oils contain properties that can help the body fight what may be causing hearing loss.

For example, eucalyptus, while loved by koalas, is also great for people with allergies, which could be contributing to some fluid behind the ears and even a muffled feeling.

Lavendar can soothe and possibly help with the by products of hearing loss or tinnitus by reducing overall body inflammation.

2. Avoiding ototoxic medication. Here is a pretty comprehensive list. If your doctor has prescribed medication on this list, asking for an alternative prescription may help.

3. Brain games. The ability to hear sound is only one aspect of hearing. In order to interpret the meaning of sound and actually make sense of it, the auditory cortex of the brain must be able to process the information efficiently.

One way to help improve or maintain good speech processing ability (and ultimately good hearing ability) is to practice and improve your auditory processing skills. Brain games, such as those on Lumosity, may help to improve your hearing, especially in more complex environments like background noise.

4. Anti-oxidants. This study cites some anti-oxidants (i.e. Vitamin A, Vitamin E) help fight free radicals and help the body copy with oxidative stress.

Lack of scientific evidence

We would be remiss if we didn’t mention this…

Although many people have found help with the herbs, oils, and other natural remedies above, it should be made clear there is very limited current scientific research to suggest any drug or treatment can reverse hearing loss.

This doesn’t mean it won’t work.

For instance, I recently herniated a disc in my lower back and the orthopedic surgeon told me that patients report recovery with acupuncture and possibly Curcumin even though there is a lack of studies to support this.

Nutrients That Protect and Improve Hearing

Among the nutrients found to be most beneficial for protecting and improving hearing are:2,3,4,5,6,7

These nutrients support hearing in a number of ways, including:

  • Protecting against oxidative stress in the cochlea
  • Preventing free radical damage
  • Improving blood flow, thereby reducing cochlear damage related to a compromised vascular system
  • Improving homocysteine metabolism

The support for vitamin A is mixed. In one large study that included data from more than 65,500 women, no correlation was found between vitamin A intake and risk for hearing loss.9 However, a number of other studies have indeed found a positive correlation. As reported by Weston A. Price:10

“A 1984 European study reported a 5 to 15 decibel improvement in patients with age-related hearing loss when given vitamins A and E. Other researchers reported that vitamin A deficiency results in a decline in the number of sensory cells in the nose, tongue and inner ear.

A 1993 study reported in Science found that vitamin A can stimulate the regeneration of mammalian auditory hair cells. In 2009, Japanese researchers found that adults with the highest blood serum levels of vitamin A and carotenoids have the lowest risk for hearing loss.

And, in 2014, researchers determined that vitamin A deficiency during pregnancy, especially during the early stages of fetal development ‘may predispose offspring to inner ear malformations and sensorial hearing loss.'”

Folate May Improve Tinnitus

For noise-induced tinnitus, which is characterized by a chronic or near-chronic ringing in the ears, folate (vitamin B9), has been shown to be beneficial. Folate also lowers your homocysteine, and having a high blood level of homocysteine has been linked to age-related hearing loss.11,12

As a general rule, the ideal way to raise your folate levels is to eat plenty of fresh, raw and organic leafy green vegetables. Folic acid is the synthetic form typically found in supplements.

There is good reason to consider getting your folate from food rather than folic acid supplements. In order for folic acid to be of use to your body, it must first be activated into its biologically active form — L-5-MTHF. This is the form that is able to cross the blood-brain barrier.

It’s been estimated that early half of all adults have difficulty converting folic acid into the bioactive form because of a genetic reduction in enzyme activity. For this reason, if you take a B-vitamin supplement, make sure it contains natural folate rather than synthetic folic acid. Children seem to convert folic acid more easily.

Asparagus, spinach, turnip greens and broccoli are all good sources of folate, as are beans, including lentils and

Zinc for Sudden Hearing Loss

Research has shown zinc may be useful for idiopathic sudden sensorineural hearing loss (SSNHL). SSNHL — a sudden, unexplained loss of hearing — is typically treated with high-dose steroids, even though steroid treatment is controversial and evidence to support their efficacy is limited.

The good news is that 47 to 63 percent of those affected end up recovering most or all of their hearing.13 While the cause for SSNHL is unknown, one theory is that a viral infection or immunologic disease is involved. This may help explain the high rate of recovery, and why zinc appears to be so beneficial for this condition.

Zinc has anti-viral properties, and studies have shown it can prevent common cold viruses from replicating or attaching to your nasal membranes. Zinc also has immune-boosting properties, allowing your body to mount a stronger first response at the onset of a viral infection.

In one study,14 66 SSNHL patients were randomly divided into two groups; half received corticosteroid treatment while the other half received oral zinc gluconate plus corticosteroid treatment. Serum zinc levels were ascertained at the outset and end of the study.

Those receiving zinc experienced significantly larger gains in hearing gain and a greater percentage of recovery. According to the authors:

“There was a significant correlation between serum zinc level changes and posttreatment hearing thresholds by correlation analysis, as well as between changes of serum zinc levels and percentage of recovery in the zinc group.

Zinc supplementation may enhance the hearing recovery of SSNHL patients. Its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects may help reduce the oxidative stress of the cochlea in SSNHL, implying a new direction in the treatment of this disease.”

A Well-Balanced Diet Is the Best Source of Zinc

Any time you isolate one mineral and ingest it independently of others, you run the risk of creating an imbalance. This is certainly true of zinc, and taking zinc indiscriminately can be quite problematic. Excess zinc has been shown to:

  • Interfere with your body’s ability to absorb other minerals, especially copper, which may lead to anemia
  • Raise the risk of prostate cancer in men15
  • Induce nausea, stomach pain, vomiting and diarrhea

The recommended daily allowance (RDA) for zinc is:

  • 11 milligrams (mg) per day for adult men
  • 8 mg for women (If you are lactating or pregnant, you need about 3 mg more)
  • 5 mg for 4- to 8-year-olds
  • 8 mg for 9- to 13-year-olds
  • 3 mg for infants

Anything over 50 mg is thought to be excessive. To be on the safe side, focus on getting your zinc from food. Besides protein-rich foods like grass-fed beef and seafood, other dietary sources of zinc include pumpkin seeds,tahini (ground sesame seeds), cashews, almonds, crimini mushrooms, spinach, sea vegetables and cheddar cheese.

Oysters top the list of zinc-rich foods, with anywhere from 16 to 182 mg of zinc per 100-gram serving, followed by liver, which has 12 mg of zinc per 100 grams. It appears zinc is better absorbed from animal sources than plant sources, so if you are serious about increasing your zinc intake, consider adding more organic grass-fed beef or liver to your diet.

Intravenous Magnesium May Also Improve Sudden Hearing Loss

Intravenous magnesium has also been shown to improve SSNHL. In one study,16 48 percent of SSNHL patients achieved recovery after receiving intravenous magnesium in combination with carbogen inhalation17 (a mixture of carbon dioxide and oxygen gas). Another 27 percent experienced significant improvement.

Factors that reduced the effectiveness of the treatment included vestibular symptoms (patients who had vertigo) and delaying treatment for more than eight days after onset.

Increasing NT3 Production Restored Hearing in Mice

Two years ago, researchers looking at ways to restore hearing lost due to noise came upon an interesting finding. By increasing the production of a protein called neurotrophin-3 (NT3), they were able to reverse hearing loss in mice that had been partially deafened by loud noise.

As it turns out, NT3 plays a key role in the communication occurring between your ears and your brain. NT3 helps establish so-called ribbon synapses that link the hair cells in your inner ear to nerve cells in your brain. When exposed to extremely loud noise, these ribbon synapses are damaged, resulting in the loss of hearing.

Normal aging can also damage your ribbon synapses, so NT3 may counteract normal age-related hearing loss as well. To boost production of NT3, the researchers used conditional gene recombination. As explained by Medical News Today:18

“This allows researchers to activate genes in particular cells by administering a drug that prompts the cells to ‘read’ additional copies of a gene that have been inserted into them. For this study, the team used the technique to activate additional NT3 genes that had been introduced to the supporting cells of the inner ear in mice that had been partially deafened by loud noise.

The drug tamoxifen was introduced to the supporting cells in the inner ear, which prompted them to produce extra NT3 protein … The researchers found the mice that had experienced boosted NT3 production regained their hearing over a 2-week period, compared with mice that had not had additional NT3 production …

[T]hey now plan to … identify drugs that produce the same effect as the protein, offering the potential to restore hearing loss in humans. The researchers note that the gene therapy technique used in this study has the potential to work in humans, but that a drug-based method would be ‘simpler’ and a drug could be repeatedly administered for as long as it takes for hearing to be restored.”

Astaxanthin Raises NT3 Expression

While researchers are looking for a drug solution to raise NT3, a Chinese study suggests astaxanthin could be used for this purpose.19 Astaxanthin, which is part of the carotenoid family, is believed to be one of the most potent antioxidants nature has to offer.

It’s FAR more potent than beta-carotene, alpha-tocopherol, lycopene and lutein, for example, and exhibits very strong free radical scavenging activity that protects your cells, organs and body tissues from oxidative damage. It’s also a powerful anti-inflammatory and is able to cross both the blood-brain barrier and the blood-retinal barrier.

Indeed, astaxanthin has been shown to have potent benefits for brain and eye health, and may be beneficial for your hearing as well, thanks to this NT3-boosting ability. The study in question looked at astaxanthin’s effect on NT3 expression in rats with compressive spinal cord injury, as NT3 has been shown to increase the growth of spinal cord neurons as well. According to the authors, astaxanthin was able to “significantly promote the expression of NT3.”

There are only two main sources of natural astaxanthin — the microalgae that produce it (Haematococcus pluvialis), and the sea creatures that consume the algae, such as salmon, shellfish and krill. If you decide to give astaxanthin a try, I recommend starting with 2 mg per day.

If you are on a krill oil supplement, take that into consideration; different krill products have different concentrations of astaxanthin, so check your label. While it’s unclear how much you’d need to improve your hearing, doses of 8 to 10 mg a day are typically recommended if you’re trying to improve your eye health.

Boosting BDNF May Also Improve Your Hearing

Earlier research has also shown that, in addition to NT3, brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) also plays an important role in the development and survival of auditory neurons in your brain. One 1996 study20 found that loss of auditory hair cells and auditory neurons can be prevented by therapies that boost either NT3 or BDNF.

Interestingly, one lifestyle factor that naturally boosts BDNF is exercise. Part of what makes exercise so effective for preventing cognitive decline is related to a boost in BDNF. It’s intriguing to speculate whether exercise may also help prevent hearing loss through this mechanism.

What’s the Best Way to Protect Your Hearing?

Worldwide, 360 million people have moderate to severe hearing loss due to various causes, from noise or infectious disease to the use of certain drugs and aging. It’s estimated that halfof these cases of hearing loss are avoidable.21 This includes cases of hidden hearing loss or noise-induced hearing loss. Of course, protecting yourself from loud noises in the first place is prevention 101. The following recommendations can help protect your hearing and avoid hearing loss:

– Sources and References

 

Herbs contain vital elements that help prevent or reduce the deterioration of hearing loss. Because we love to see you live a healthy life, we’ve compiled 4 herbs that will help you out of this.

We always advocate that before you start using herbs, you consult your doctor first.

1. Echinacea

Also known as the American coneflower, Echinacea is one of the popular herbs full of health benefits. On top of boosting the immune system and fight symptoms of cold, it also counters other bizarre infections that could lead to hearing loss.

This herb houses antibiotics which help in fighting viruses or germs that can cause inner ear infections. Additionally, it also reduces inflammation of the sinus and ear tissues thus enhancing good hearing sense.

The bitter taste may come as a turn off to many, but the rewards are nothing short of spectacular. You can access it over the counter at supermarkets or pharmacies in form of tea, dried herb, liquid extracts or pills.

2. Ginger

Despite ginger being just an ingredient in Indian foods and Asian stir-fry dishes. Its use dates back to the ancient times as a natural remedy.

Research has shown that ginger has antibiotics and antiviral components that are essential in preventing infections that cause hearing loss. That notwithstanding, the herb regulates and activates nerves that facilitate sound transmission waves to the brain.

3. Turmeric

Indians adore and envy turmeric for its medicinal value. True to their belief it’s classified as one of the best medicinal herb known to man.

It contains bioactive compounds with powerful medicinal properties that assist your brain and body to function in a seamless fashion. Closer home, its rich in potassium mineral which plays an essential role in facilitating healthy ear functioning.

4. Ginkgo Biloba

Tracing its origin in Asia, the Ginkgo herb is harvested from the leaves of the Ginkgo tree. On top of facilitating blood platelets production, this herb knocks down the hearing problem with a single punch.

It has been shown to facilitate proper blood circulation throughout the body and more specifically the ear tissues. Sufficient blood circulation in the ear makes it function more efficiently.

Lastly, Ginkgo gives a hand in relieving ringing in the ears.

4 other natural remedies for hearing loss

1. Essential oils. First, the bad news. There is no research that sensorineural hearing loss can be reversed or treated with essential oils. However, essential oils contain properties that can help the body fight what may be causing hearing loss.

For example, eucalyptus, while loved by koalas, is also great for people with allergies, which could be contributing to some fluid behind the ears and even a muffled feeling.

Lavendar can soothe and possibly help with the by products of hearing loss or tinnitus by reducing overall body inflammation.

2. Avoiding ototoxic medication. Here is a pretty comprehensive list. If your doctor has prescribed medication on this list, asking for an alternative prescription may help.

3. Brain games. The ability to hear sound is only one aspect of hearing. In order to interpret the meaning of sound and actually make sense of it, the auditory cortex of the brain must be able to process the information efficiently.

One way to help improve or maintain good speech processing ability (and ultimately good hearing ability) is to practice and improve your auditory processing skills. Brain games, such as those on Lumosity, may help to improve your hearing, especially in more complex environments like background noise.

4. Anti-oxidants. This study cites some anti-oxidants (i.e. Vitamin A, Vitamin E) help fight free radicals and help the body copy with oxidative stress.

Lack of scientific evidence

We would be remiss if we didn’t mention this…

Although many people have found help with the herbs, oils, and other natural remedies above, it should be made clear there is very limited current scientific research to suggest any drug or treatment can reverse hearing loss.

This doesn’t mean it won’t work.

For instance, I recently herniated a disc in my lower back and the orthopedic surgeon told me that patients report recovery with acupuncture and possibly Curcumin even though there is a lack of studies to support this.

Nutrients That Protect and Improve Hearing

Among the nutrients found to be most beneficial for protecting and improving hearing are:2,3,4,5,6,7

These nutrients support hearing in a number of ways, including:

  • Protecting against oxidative stress in the cochlea
  • Preventing free radical damage
  • Improving blood flow, thereby reducing cochlear damage related to a compromised vascular system
  • Improving homocysteine metabolism

The support for vitamin A is mixed. In one large study that included data from more than 65,500 women, no correlation was found between vitamin A intake and risk for hearing loss.9 However, a number of other studies have indeed found a positive correlation. As reported by Weston A. Price:10

“A 1984 European study reported a 5 to 15 decibel improvement in patients with age-related hearing loss when given vitamins A and E. Other researchers reported that vitamin A deficiency results in a decline in the number of sensory cells in the nose, tongue and inner ear.

A 1993 study reported in Science found that vitamin A can stimulate the regeneration of mammalian auditory hair cells. In 2009, Japanese researchers found that adults with the highest blood serum levels of vitamin A and carotenoids have the lowest risk for hearing loss.

And, in 2014, researchers determined that vitamin A deficiency during pregnancy, especially during the early stages of fetal development ‘may predispose offspring to inner ear malformations and sensorial hearing loss.'”

Folate May Improve Tinnitus

For noise-induced tinnitus, which is characterized by a chronic or near-chronic ringing in the ears, folate (vitamin B9), has been shown to be beneficial. Folate also lowers your homocysteine, and having a high blood level of homocysteine has been linked to age-related hearing loss.11,12

As a general rule, the ideal way to raise your folate levels is to eat plenty of fresh, raw and organic leafy green vegetables. Folic acid is the synthetic form typically found in supplements.

There is good reason to consider getting your folate from food rather than folic acid supplements. In order for folic acid to be of use to your body, it must first be activated into its biologically active form — L-5-MTHF. This is the form that is able to cross the blood-brain barrier.

It’s been estimated that early half of all adults have difficulty converting folic acid into the bioactive form because of a genetic reduction in enzyme activity. For this reason, if you take a B-vitamin supplement, make sure it contains natural folate rather than synthetic folic acid. Children seem to convert folic acid more easily.

Asparagus, spinach, turnip greens and broccoli are all good sources of folate, as are beans, including lentils and

Zinc for Sudden Hearing Loss

Research has shown zinc may be useful for idiopathic sudden sensorineural hearing loss (SSNHL). SSNHL — a sudden, unexplained loss of hearing — is typically treated with high-dose steroids, even though steroid treatment is controversial and evidence to support their efficacy is limited.

The good news is that 47 to 63 percent of those affected end up recovering most or all of their hearing.13 While the cause for SSNHL is unknown, one theory is that a viral infection or immunologic disease is involved. This may help explain the high rate of recovery, and why zinc appears to be so beneficial for this condition.

Zinc has anti-viral properties, and studies have shown it can prevent common cold viruses from replicating or attaching to your nasal membranes. Zinc also has immune-boosting properties, allowing your body to mount a stronger first response at the onset of a viral infection.

In one study,14 66 SSNHL patients were randomly divided into two groups; half received corticosteroid treatment while the other half received oral zinc gluconate plus corticosteroid treatment. Serum zinc levels were ascertained at the outset and end of the study.

Those receiving zinc experienced significantly larger gains in hearing gain and a greater percentage of recovery. According to the authors:

“There was a significant correlation between serum zinc level changes and posttreatment hearing thresholds by correlation analysis, as well as between changes of serum zinc levels and percentage of recovery in the zinc group.

Zinc supplementation may enhance the hearing recovery of SSNHL patients. Its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects may help reduce the oxidative stress of the cochlea in SSNHL, implying a new direction in the treatment of this disease.”

A Well-Balanced Diet Is the Best Source of Zinc

Any time you isolate one mineral and ingest it independently of others, you run the risk of creating an imbalance. This is certainly true of zinc, and taking zinc indiscriminately can be quite problematic. Excess zinc has been shown to:

  • Interfere with your body’s ability to absorb other minerals, especially copper, which may lead to anemia
  • Raise the risk of prostate cancer in men15
  • Induce nausea, stomach pain, vomiting and diarrhea

The recommended daily allowance (RDA) for zinc is:

  • 11 milligrams (mg) per day for adult men
  • 8 mg for women (If you are lactating or pregnant, you need about 3 mg more)
  • 5 mg for 4- to 8-year-olds
  • 8 mg for 9- to 13-year-olds
  • 3 mg for infants

Anything over 50 mg is thought to be excessive. To be on the safe side, focus on getting your zinc from food. Besides protein-rich foods like grass-fed beef and seafood, other dietary sources of zinc include pumpkin seeds,tahini (ground sesame seeds), cashews, almonds, crimini mushrooms, spinach, sea vegetables and cheddar cheese.

Oysters top the list of zinc-rich foods, with anywhere from 16 to 182 mg of zinc per 100-gram serving, followed by liver, which has 12 mg of zinc per 100 grams. It appears zinc is better absorbed from animal sources than plant sources, so if you are serious about increasing your zinc intake, consider adding more organic grass-fed beef or liver to your diet.

Intravenous Magnesium May Also Improve Sudden Hearing Loss

Intravenous magnesium has also been shown to improve SSNHL. In one study,16 48 percent of SSNHL patients achieved recovery after receiving intravenous magnesium in combination with carbogen inhalation17 (a mixture of carbon dioxide and oxygen gas). Another 27 percent experienced significant improvement.

Factors that reduced the effectiveness of the treatment included vestibular symptoms (patients who had vertigo) and delaying treatment for more than eight days after onset.

Increasing NT3 Production Restored Hearing in Mice

Two years ago, researchers looking at ways to restore hearing lost due to noise came upon an interesting finding. By increasing the production of a protein called neurotrophin-3 (NT3), they were able to reverse hearing loss in mice that had been partially deafened by loud noise.

As it turns out, NT3 plays a key role in the communication occurring between your ears and your brain. NT3 helps establish so-called ribbon synapses that link the hair cells in your inner ear to nerve cells in your brain. When exposed to extremely loud noise, these ribbon synapses are damaged, resulting in the loss of hearing.

Normal aging can also damage your ribbon synapses, so NT3 may counteract normal age-related hearing loss as well. To boost production of NT3, the researchers used conditional gene recombination. As explained by Medical News Today:18

“This allows researchers to activate genes in particular cells by administering a drug that prompts the cells to ‘read’ additional copies of a gene that have been inserted into them. For this study, the team used the technique to activate additional NT3 genes that had been introduced to the supporting cells of the inner ear in mice that had been partially deafened by loud noise.

The drug tamoxifen was introduced to the supporting cells in the inner ear, which prompted them to produce extra NT3 protein … The researchers found the mice that had experienced boosted NT3 production regained their hearing over a 2-week period, compared with mice that had not had additional NT3 production …

[T]hey now plan to … identify drugs that produce the same effect as the protein, offering the potential to restore hearing loss in humans. The researchers note that the gene therapy technique used in this study has the potential to work in humans, but that a drug-based method would be ‘simpler’ and a drug could be repeatedly administered for as long as it takes for hearing to be restored.”

Astaxanthin Raises NT3 Expression

While researchers are looking for a drug solution to raise NT3, a Chinese study suggests astaxanthin could be used for this purpose.19 Astaxanthin, which is part of the carotenoid family, is believed to be one of the most potent antioxidants nature has to offer.

It’s FAR more potent than beta-carotene, alpha-tocopherol, lycopene and lutein, for example, and exhibits very strong free radical scavenging activity that protects your cells, organs and body tissues from oxidative damage. It’s also a powerful anti-inflammatory and is able to cross both the blood-brain barrier and the blood-retinal barrier.

Indeed, astaxanthin has been shown to have potent benefits for brain and eye health, and may be beneficial for your hearing as well, thanks to this NT3-boosting ability. The study in question looked at astaxanthin’s effect on NT3 expression in rats with compressive spinal cord injury, as NT3 has been shown to increase the growth of spinal cord neurons as well. According to the authors, astaxanthin was able to “significantly promote the expression of NT3.”

There are only two main sources of natural astaxanthin — the microalgae that produce it (Haematococcus pluvialis), and the sea creatures that consume the algae, such as salmon, shellfish and krill. If you decide to give astaxanthin a try, I recommend starting with 2 mg per day.

If you are on a krill oil supplement, take that into consideration; different krill products have different concentrations of astaxanthin, so check your label. While it’s unclear how much you’d need to improve your hearing, doses of 8 to 10 mg a day are typically recommended if you’re trying to improve your eye health.

Boosting BDNF May Also Improve Your Hearing

Earlier research has also shown that, in addition to NT3, brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) also plays an important role in the development and survival of auditory neurons in your brain. One 1996 study20 found that loss of auditory hair cells and auditory neurons can be prevented by therapies that boost either NT3 or BDNF.

Interestingly, one lifestyle factor that naturally boosts BDNF is exercise. Part of what makes exercise so effective for preventing cognitive decline is related to a boost in BDNF. It’s intriguing to speculate whether exercise may also help prevent hearing loss through this mechanism.

What’s the Best Way to Protect Your Hearing?

Worldwide, 360 million people have moderate to severe hearing loss due to various causes, from noise or infectious disease to the use of certain drugs and aging. It’s estimated that halfof these cases of hearing loss are avoidable.21 This includes cases of hidden hearing loss or noise-induced hearing loss. Of course, protecting yourself from loud noises in the first place is prevention 101. The following recommendations can help protect your hearing and avoid hearing loss:

– Sources and References

Hear Res. 2012 Mar;285(1-2):29-39. doi: 10.1016/j.heares.2012.01.013. Epub 2012 Feb 6.

Antioxidant treatment reduces blast-induced cochlear damage and hearing loss.

Abstract

Exposure to blast overpressure has become one of the hazards of both military and civilian life in many parts of the world due to war and terrorist activity. Auditory damage is one of the primary sequela of blast trauma, affecting immediate situational awareness and causing permanent hearing loss. Protecting against blast exposure is limited by the inability to anticipate the timing of these exposures, particularly those caused by terrorists. Therefore a therapeutic regimen is desirable that is able to ameliorate auditory damage when administered after a blast exposure has occurred. The purpose of this study was to determine if administration of a combination of antioxidants 2,4-disulfonyl α-phenyl tertiary butyl nitrone (HPN-07) and N-acetylcysteine (NAC) beginning 1 h after blast exposure could reduce both temporary and permanent hearing loss. To this end, a blast simulator was developed and the operational conditions established for exposing rats to blast overpressures comparable to those encountered in an open-field blast of 14 pounds per square inch (psi). This blast model produced reproducible blast overpressures that resulted in physiological and physical damage to the auditory system that was proportional to the number and amplitude of the blasts. After exposure to 3 consecutive 14 psi blasts 100% of anesthetized rats had permanent hearing loss as determined at 21 days post exposure by auditory brainstem response (ABR) and distortion product otoacoustic emission (DPOAE) testing. Animals treated with HPN-07 and NAC after blast exposure showed a significant reduction in ABR threshold shifts and DPOAE level shifts at 2-16 kHz with significant reduction in inner hair cell (IHC) and outer hair cell (OHC) loss across the 5-36 kHz region of the cochlea compared with control animals. The time course of changes in the auditory system was documented at 3 h, 24 h, 7 day and 21 day after blast exposure. At 3 h after blast exposure the auditory brainstem response (ABR) threshold shifts were elevated by 60 dB in both treated and control groups. A partial recovery of to 35 dB was observed at 24 h in the controls, indicative of a temporary threshold shift (TTS) and there was essentially no further recovery by 21 days representing a permanent threshold shift (PTS) of about 30 dB. Antioxidant treatment increased the amount of both TTS and PTS recovery relative to controls by 10 and 20 dB respectively. Distortion product otoacoustic emission (DPOAE) reached a maximum level shift of 25-30 dB measured in both control and treated groups at 3 h after blast exposure. These levels did not change by day 21 in the control group but in the treatment group the level shifts began to decline at 24 h until by day 21 they were 10-20 dB below that of the controls. Loss of cochlear hair cells measured at 21 day after blast exposure was mostly in the outer hair cells (OHC) and broadly distributed across the basilar membrane, consistent with the distribution of loss of frequency responses as measured by ABR and DPOAE analysis and typical of blast-induced damage. OHC loss progressively increased after blast exposure reaching an average loss of 32% in the control group and 10% in the treated group at 21 days. These findings provide the first evidence that a combination of antioxidants, HPN-07 and NAC, can both enhance TTS recovery and prevent PTS by reducing damage to the mechanical and neural components of the auditory system when administered shortly after blast exposure.

Acupuncture Effective For Treating Hearing Loss

Acupuncture improves hearing for patients with hearing loss. Research published in the International Journal of Clinical and Experimental Medicine finds acupuncture effective for the treatment of nerve related deafness. This type of sensorineural deafness is hearing loss due to auditory nerve damage.

The researchers, Jiang et al., conclude that acupuncture “can significantly improve the hearing of patients with nerve deafness, and the efficacy of acupuncture in combination with medication is superior to medication alone.”

Conventional medical treatments include cochlear implants, vasodilator medications, vitamin therapies, and steroids. In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), both acupuncture and herbal medicines are used in the treatment of sensorineural hearing loss and deafness. The research finds acupuncture significantly more effective than medications. Acupuncture was also found more effective than than Er Long Zuo Ci Wan. This is a significant finding given that the herbal formula Er Long Zuo Ci Wan has been used in TCM for the treatment of hearing disorders for centuries and has also been found effective for the treatment of hearing related disorders in modern research.

Er Long Zuo Ci Wan contains the following herbal medicines:

  • Magnetitum (Ci Shi)
  • Radix Rehmanniae Preparata (Shu Di Huang)
  • Fructus Corni Officinalis (Shan Zhu Yu)
  • Cortex Moutan Radicis, Paeonia Suffruticosa (Mu Dan Pi)
  • Rhizoma Dioscoreae Oppositae (Shan Yao)
  • Sclerotium Poriae Cocos (Fu Ling)
  • Rhizoma Alismatis Orientalis (Ze Xie)
  • Radix Bupleuri Chinensis (Chai Hu)

Qiu et al. investigation the effects of Er Long Zuo Ci Wan and discovered that it reduces ototoxicity due to gentamicin consumption. Gentamicin is an antibiotic used in the treatment of gram-negative bacterial infections but has ototoxic and nephrotoxic properties. Qiu et al. also discovered that Er Long Zuo Ci Wan demonstrates protective effects on succinate dehydrogenase (SDH) in cochlear hair cells. Chen et al. note that hair cell loss correlates to hearing loss and SDH activity within cochlear hair cells and is a marker of cellular dysfunction and subsequent loss of auditory sensitivity. Together, these findings suggest that Er Long Zuo Ci Wan may have otoprotective properties. Additional research by Wang et al. suggests that Er Long Zuo Ci Wan may reduce chronic tinnitus.

The research points to the need for a comparison of the long and short-term effects of acupuncture and herbal medicine on hearing restoration. Jiang et al. find acupuncture able to prevent hearing loss to a greater degree than Er Long Zuo Ci Wan. Studies measuring the effects of acupuncture, Er Long Zuo Ci Wan, and acupuncture combined with Er Long Zuo Ci Wan over a period of several years are needed to determine the auditory effects over the long-term.

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Jiang et al. cite limitations to their acupuncture research. The researchers note that the small sample sizes of the 12 trials accepted into the meta-analysis limit the investigation. They add that additional studies are needed that make use of larger sample sizes. They add that the additional research will help to “verify the efficacy of acupuncture treatment of nerve deafness.” The researchers conclude, “the result of the meta-analysis shows that acupuncture may effectively improve the hearing conditions of patients with nerve deafness…”

In a related study, researchers conclude that acupuncture combined with ginger moxibustion benefits patients with tinnitus. Researchers applied acupuncture and ginger moxibustion to 34 patients with intractable tinnitus. The total therapeutic effective rate was 91.18%.

Acupuncture was applied to the following acupoints:

  • TB17 (Yifeng)
  • GB2 (Tinghui)
  • SJ21 (Ermen)
  • SI19 (Tinggong)
  • LU7 (Lieque)
  • GB43 (Xiaxi)
  • SJ3 (Zhongzhu)
  • LR3 (Taichong)
  • GB40 (Qiuxu)

Reinforcing or reducing manual acupuncture techniques were applied to elicit a deqi sensation at the acupuncture points. Electroacupuncture was applied to the acupoints local to the the ears. Needle retention time was 30 minutes. Ginger moxibustion was applied during the acupuncture treatments. Treatment was administered daily for a 10 day period to comprise one course of care.

After a treatment time averaging 17 days, a total of 22 patients fully recovered, 5 patients showed marked improvements, 4 patients showed moderate improvements, and 3 patients had no improvements. Within four months after the acupuncture treatments, 27 patients experienced no worsening of symptoms or recurrence of symptoms. The researchers conclude that acupuncture plus ginger moxibustion have a significant curative effect on patients with intractable tinnitus.

References:

Jiang, Yuebo, Xian Shi, and Yan Tang. “Efficacy and safety of acupuncture therapy for nerve deafness: a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials.” Int J Clin Exp Med 8, no. 2 (2015): 2614-2620.

Li, Shilin, Yan Xiao, Yingli Song, and Jiang Wu. “Efficacy Observation of Acupuncture Combined with Ginger Moxibustion to Treatment of 34 Cases of Intractable Tinnitus.” Zhongyi Zhongyao (Traditional Chinese Medicine and Herbs) Aug. 2013: 277-278.

QIU, Fang, Jie LIU, Song-jian KANG, Yong-zhi SHI, Xian-jun SHI, and Ying ZHANG. “The protective effects of modifier Erlongzuociwan on cochlear succinate dehydrogenase [J].” Chinese New Drugs Journal 11 (2004): 010.

Chen, Guang-Di, Misty L. McWilliams, and Laurence D. Fechter. “Succinate dehydrogenase (SDH) activity in hair cells: a correlate for permanent threshold elevations.” Hearing research 145, no. 1 (2000): 91-100.

Wang, Y. M., H. Y. Song, Zhong Tong, S. J. Qian, R. X. Guo, Z. J. Jing, and J. R. Shi. “[Effects of er-long-zuo-ci-wan on the spontaneous activities of auditory central nucleus in rat model of tinnitus induced by salicylate acid].” Zhongguo ying yong sheng li xue za zhi= Zhongguo yingyong shenglixue zazhi= Chinese journal of applied physiology 25, no. 3 (2009): 397-401.

 

Research[edit]

Stem cell transplant and gene therapy[edit]

A 2005 study achieved successful regrowth of cochlea cells in guinea pigs.[131] However, the regrowth of cochlear hair cells does not imply the restoration of hearing sensitivity, as the sensory cells may or may not make connections with neurons that carry the signals from hair cells to the brain. A 2008 study has shown that gene therapy targeting Atoh1 can cause hair cell growth and attract neuronal processes in embryonic mice. Some hope that a similar treatment will one day ameliorate hearing loss in humans.[132]

Recent research, reported in 2012 achieved growth of cochlear nerve cells resulting in hearing improvements in gerbils,[133] using stem cells. Also reported in 2013 was regrowth of hair cells in deaf adult mice using a drug intervention resulting in hearing improvement.[134] The Hearing Health Foundation in the US has embarked on a project called the Hearing Restoration Project.[135] Also Action on Hearing Loss in the UK is also aiming to restore hearing.[136]

Researchers reported in 2015 that genetically deaf mice which were treated with TMC1 gene therapy recovered some of their hearing.[137][138] In 2017, additional studies were performed to treat Usher syndrome[139] and here, a recombinant adeno-associated virus seemed to outperform the older vectors.[140][141]

Audition[edit]

Besides research studies seeking to improve hearing, such as the ones listed above, research studies on the deaf have also been carried out in order to understand more about audition. Pijil and Shwarz (2005) conducted their study on the deaf who lost their hearing later in life and, hence, used cochlear implants to hear. They discovered further evidence for rate coding of pitch, a system that codes for information for frequencies by the rate that neurons fire in the auditory system, especially for lower frequencies as they are coded by the frequencies that neurons fire from the basilar membrane in a synchronous manner. Their results showed that the subjects could identify different pitches that were proportional to the frequency stimulated by a single electrode. The lower frequencies were detected when the basilar membrane was stimulated, providing even further evidence for rate coding.[142]

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