Natural Treatments for Hearing Loss
By Dr. Mao Shing Ni
AN UNFORTUNATE FACT: THE AVERAGE PERSON starts losing hearing in his or her twenties. The loss is so gradual that most people don’t notice until it affects their lives. Even when they need to use the highest volume on the television, some people don’t recognize or admit that they have a hearing problem.
The gradual deterioration of hearing is primarily a result of the environmental, lifestyle, and dietary choices we make during our youth. The popularity of digital audio players is certainly adding to the problem of sensorineural hearing loss. Continued exposure to loud environments, inadequate sleep and rest, overindulgence, and being overworked place an enormous amount of strain on the body.
Combined with a poor diet, including increasing amounts of chemical and artificial ingredients in our food, our bodies begin to fail as a result of toxic buildup. For example, there is a link between high blood cholesterol and loss of hearing. Genetic, physical, and other disease factors may also be involved. Some childhood illnesses, such as measles, mumps, and chronic adenoid inflammations (inflammation of the tonsils), can lead directly to hearing loss.
Chinese medicine recognizes a link between hearing loss and the underlying essence of the person. Prolonged overindulgence and being overworked during youth deplete the body’s vital essence, causing deficiencies-especially of the kidney-bladder network. Depleted kidney energy can lead to a premature decline in hearing. Strong emotions such as anger and frustration can aggravate the liver energy, which rises to the head and ears, producing hearing impairment and tinnitus (ringing in the ears). Meniere’s disease, an inner ear condition, often corresponds to a rise in liver energy. Acute loss of hearing is often associated with external pathogens such as the viruses that cause colds, flu, ear infections, and shingles.
I’ve worked with a number of ear, nose, and throat specialists on hearing-related problems in patients ranging from three to ninety-three years old. My treatments focus on fortifying the underlying essence, strengthening the vital energy of the kidneys, and opening blocked sensory orifices. I often use acupuncture with electrostimulation to increase neurological function and circulation within the ears, while using herbal therapy to reduce inflammation and swelling and to promote healing.
Related conditions: tinnitus
DIET FOR HEARING LOSS
- A balanced diet of smaller and more frequent meals with ample amounts of complex carbohydrates and organic animal proteins is a good start.
- Adding more warming foods, such as organic chicken and lamb, can help strengthen the kidney yang energy.
- Scallions, sesame seeds, fish, baked tofu, soybeans, walnuts, eggs, lentils, black beans, lotus seeds, ginger, and cinnamon bark are also helpful.
- Avoid cold and raw foods and icy beverages, as the coldness may constrict the eustachian tubes, causing poor drainage from the inner ears.
- Maintain a diet low in saturated fats, and eliminate fried and greasy foods.
- Avoid processed meats and dairy products, as they have a tendency to increase mucus production. Protein deposits similar to those in milk have been found in the inner ear of patients with partial hearing loss.
HOME REMEDIES FOR HEARING LOSS
- Ear irrigation can remove excess wax buildup, which can be a cause of diminished hearing. Ear wax kits with specific instructions are available at some pharmacies. You may also want to visit your ear, nose, and throat specialist if the problem becomes severe.
- Make a ginger-spice tea by boiling together 1 heaping tablespoon each of dried oregano, cilantro, rosemary, sage, and cinnamon, plus 3 slices of fresh ginger in 4 cups of water for 15 minutes. Cover the pot to prevent steam from escaping as it boils. Strain, and drink 3 cups a day for at least 3 weeks.
- Make a bone marrow soup with organic sheep’s bones or calves’ bones. Cook 3 pounds bones in a large pot filled with 8 cups water with 1/3 cup each of black beans, kidney beans, and adzuki beans, 2 diced carrots, 2 diced celery stalks, 1 sliced onion, and 1/2 cup dried seaweed. Season with 1 teaspoon each turmeric, cumin, and black pepper. Do not use salt.
DAILY VITAMIN SUPPLEMENTS FOR HEARING LOSS
- Ear, nose, and throat specialists will sometimes recommend up to 300 milligrams of niacin (vitamin B3) to increase blood flow to the microcapillaries of the inner ear, which feed the auditory nerve. Taking niacin can cause a heat flush lasting for about 30 minutes.
- N-acetylcysteine (NAC; 500 milligrams) may help prevent hearing loss-this is especially useful for people who are constantly exposed to loud noise.
- Taking folate (folic acid; 400 micrograms) on a daily basis has been shown to slow hearing loss.
- Carotenoids (1,000 milligrams) and vitamins A (200 IU), C (1,000 milligrams), and E (800 IU) can reduce the risk of noise-induced hearing loss.
HERBAL THERAPY FOR HEARING LOSS
- Ginkgo biloba can help stabilize hearing loss by increasing capillary blood circulation.
- Hawthorn berry activates blood flow and can be helpful in preventing hearing loss.
- Traditional Chinese herbs used to support healthy hearing include rehmannia, wild yam, schizandra, Asian cornelian, and magnetite.
EXERCISE FOR HEARING LOSS AND MENTAL CLARITY
Exercise is important for stimulating blood circulation, maintaining healthy immunity, and preventing colds and flu. I recommend a daily regimen of qi gong and tai chi combined with moderate cardiovascular exercise. I often use Dao In Qi Gong exercises to help support healthy hearing function in my patients. Immortal Beating the Heavenly Drum and Immortal Sounding the Heavenly Bell exercises work best-do these exercises daily for optimum results.
• To perform the Immortal Beating the Heavenly Drum exercise, sit comfortably at the tip of a sturdy chair with your spine erect, arms on your legs, and head tilted slightly forward.
- Begin breathing slowly and rhythmically, inhaling deeply and gently and exhaling slowly.
- Cover both ears with your palms, with the fingers of each hand pointing toward each other at the back of the head.
- Inhaling, place your index fingers on top of your middle fingers and then snap them off, striking the back of the head on the depressions located behind the ears at the base of the skull, where the Wind Pond (GB-20) acupoints are located.
- Repeat continuously, with about one strike per second. On an exhale, continue striking the Wind Pond points with your index fingers while bending forward at the waist.
- Tilt your head down.
- Continue breathing and striking for 20 to 30 seconds, until you’ve struck the points 36 times.
- Conclude the exercise by rising back to the sitting position on your last exhalation.
• To perform the Immortal Sounding the Heavenly Bell
exercise, begin by sitting comfortably at the tip of a sturdy
chair with your spine erect, arms on your legs, and head tilted slightly forward.
- Begin breathing slowly and rhythmically, inhaling deeply and gently and exhaling slowly.
- While holding your palms over both ears, create a tight seal and repeatedly bite down sharply: 9 times focusing on the front of your mouth, 9 times focusing on the left side, 9 times focusing on the right side, and 9 times focusing on the back of your mouth, for a total of 36 times.
- Inhale each time you bite down, and exhale when you relax your Jaw.
- Conclude with restful breathing for 1 minute.
This is a great exercise for maintaining the health of the mouth, teeth, and auditory canal.
SELF-ACUPRESSURE FOR HEARING LOSS
- Find the acupoint Forceful Torrent (KID-3), in the depression between the inner anklebone and the Achilles tendon of the right foot. Apply steady pressure with your right thumb until you feel soreness. Hold for 2 minutes. Repeat on the left foot.
- Locate the acupoint Listening Palace (SI-19), directly in front of the right ear canal, in the depression formed when the mouth is slightly open. Apply steady pressure with your index or middle finger until you feel soreness. Hold for 2 minutes. Repeat on the left side.
HEARING LOSS: WHAT TO AVOID
- Antibiotics such as aminoglycosides, gentamicin, and tobramicin, which have been shown to cause hearing loss, usually temporary, but occasionally permanent. Consult your physician.
- Aspirin overuse, which has been linked to acute hearing loss.
- Some diuretics, such as furosemide (Lasix), in high doses and some anti-hypertensive drugs, such as a combination of bisoprolol and hydro-chlorothiazide (Ziac), which can cause hearing loss. Consult your physician.
- Loud noise, by wearing earplugs to concerts and turning down the volume on the television.
- Dobie, R. A. 2007. Folate supplementation and age-related hearing loss. Ann. Int. Med. 146:63-64.
- Durga, J. 2007. Effects of folic acids supplementation on hearing in older adults. Ann. Int. Med. 146:1-9.
- Jones, N .S., and A. Davis. 2000. A retrospective case-controlled study of 1490 consecutive patients presenting to a neuro-otology clinic to examine the relationship between blood lipid levels and sensorineural hearing loss. Clin. Otolaryngol. 25 (6):511-17.
- Ni, H. Attune Your Body with Dao In. Los Angeles: Seven Star, 1989.
- Ni, M., and C. McNease. The Tao of Nutrition. Los Angeles: Seven Star, 1987.
- Pillsbury, H.C. 1986. Hypertension, hyperlipoproteinemia, chronic noise exposure: Is there synergism in cochlear pathology? Laryngoscope 96:1112-37.
- Suzuki, K., M. Kaneko, and K. Murai. 2000. Influence of serum lipids on auditory function. Laryngoscope 110 (10 pt 1):1736-38.
©2015 Dr. Mao Shing Ni
Read Secrets of Self-Healing: Harness Nature's Power to Heal Common Ailments ... By Maoshing Ni