Thanks to its health benefits, you might have noticed this sunny orange spice popping up in hip cafes everywhere. Turmeric latte, anyone? Maybe you know it better as a key addition in Indian cuisine. What you might not know is that this super spice contains compounds that medical experts are now using to fight disease and other conditions. Just what is the lowdown on turmeric and hearing health? Is it true that turmeric can bring relief to sufferers of tinnitus?
Turmeric – which grows as a plant – has been used by the ancient Indians for thousands of years, but it has taken longer for Western medicine to uncover its health benefits. These ancient cultures swore by turmeric’s health and healing properties. Modern science has now ascertained that turmeric gets its powerful anti-inflammatory properties from an active ingredient called curcumin. So, 4,000 years ago, they were indeed onto a good thing!
Any breakthrough in treating inflammation is big news, as many common chronic diseases are linked to inflammatory responses in the body. Medical journal, Alternative Medicine Review, published clinical trial findings which indicate the potential of curcumin as a therapeutic agent in diseases such as inflammatory bowel disease, pancreatitis, arthritis, and certain cancers. Because initial findings were so promising, there are many ongoing clinical trials to further investigate the benefits of turmeric and curcumin and their application in modern medicine.
Tinnitus can also be linked to inflammatory process in the body. You may already know that tinnitus isn’t a disease itself, but a symptom of something else going on in the wider hearing system or body. There’s currently no cure for tinnitus, despite the large number of the population that suffers from it. Treatments to alleviate symptoms depend on narrowing down what might be causing the tinnitus, for example, treating hearing loss or an ear infection. In those where symptoms persist, counselling or masking devices are common treatment options.
So, it’s a bit of a game changer that tinnitus symptoms could be alleviated by the powerful compounds within turmeric.
Studies have shown that turmeric extracts have a positive anti-inflammatory response in ear conditions. In addition to this, treatment with turmeric for middle ear infections – which commonly cause tinnitus symptoms – was found to be as effective as antibiotics.
There are also potential benefits from the mighty antioxidant properties of turmeric. Reactive oxygen molecules (free radicals) play a part in the damage caused to the inner ear – and your hearing – by the natural aging process and dangerously loud noise. Tinnitus commonly accompanies this hearing damage. Oral antioxidant therapy has been found to decrease the intensity and discomfort of tinnitus symptoms, as the antioxidants work to reduce the production of the harmful free radicals.
Certain drugs are ‘ototoxic’, which means they’re harmful to the ear and hearing. Even medications in your bathroom cabinet, like ibuprofens, can be ototoxic in large doses. However, some cancers and diseases require treatment with strong drugs that are known to cause to cause tinnitus as part of their side-effect profile. Unfortunately, we can’t always avoid taking drugs like these in order to get well. Investigators have been able to show that in animal studies, administering curcumin along with chemotherapy has a protective effect on hearing. This research shows promise for combining turmeric along with other treatments where the required drugs are known to be ototoxic.
So how do you access the amazing benefits of this humble spice? Well, it’s not as simple as just reaching for your spice cabinet. The form of turmeric found in your kitchen is the ground root of the plant whereas the turmeric used in most clinical studies is in extract form. It would be difficult to reach the amount of curcumin required to see health benefits just by adding the spice itself to your food. Many people do, however, swear by consuming turmeric in spice form daily to improve their health and wellbeing.
The best thing to do is head to your local audiology clinic. Your hearing health professional can help guide you in the correct turmeric supplement and dosage to take.
If you’re interested in trying turmeric extract for your tinnitus, come in and speak to our friendly team at Entire Hearing or call 07 5575 8999. Turmeric isn’t suitable for everyone, so please check with your hearing health specialist or doctor before introducing turmeric supplements into your diet. It’s not advised for pregnant or breastfeeding women, or those on blood thinning medications.