When it comes to finding options for effective symptoms relief, tinnitus patients are used to thinking outside of the box.
You see, most common ailments have common treatments. Got a broken bone? Get a cast. Got a sinus infection? Get an antibiotic. But despite the fact that tinnitus is one of the most common conditions a person can experience, modern medicine has yet to come up with a cure, or even a reliable way to temporarily alleviate symptoms.
So tinnitus patients get curious and creative. They examine themselves and the world around them. They notice what aggravates their unique symptoms of tinnitus and what calms them. They try, adopt and abandon new options that have worked for others, and they keep the best ones in their toolkits for when their conditions flare up.
Some patients, frustrated with modern medicine’s lack of progress, have looked to nature for relief and found a unique tinnitus treatment option for managing their symptoms: essential oils.
What Is Tinnitus?
Tinnitus is when you hear sound that doesn’t have an external source. Patients usually experience tinnitus as a persistent, high-pitched ringing in the ears, but it can also be a buzzing, humming, roaring, shrieking, or the sound of your own heartbeat. Tinnitus symptoms can be low-pitched or high-pitched, the volume can vary, and patients can experience it in one or both ears. Many patients are not bothered by their tinnitus and find it manageable—a background noise that’s easy to ignore. But, for millions of others, tinnitus is an unbearable and debilitating chronic condition.
Tinnitus is not a disease in itself, but rather a symptom of something else going on in your body, like damage to the inner ear, stress, certain vascular conditions, age-related hearing loss or even a side effect from medications. Because tinnitus has a myriad of causes, it can be exceedingly difficult to treat—so many patients look to alternative and natural remedies like essential oils and aromatherapy for relief.
What Are Essential Oils?
An essential oil is a concentrated liquid containing volatile (meaning they quickly change from liquid to gas) aroma compounds derived from plants. These oils are called “essential” because they contain the “essence of” the plant’s fragrance—not because they are needed to survive.
Essential oils have several uses, including in perfumes, cosmetics, soaps, for flavoring foods and drinks and for adding scents to household cleaning products.
Essential oils are also often used for aromatherapy, a form of alternative medicine where aromas are used to promote healing. Doctors and practitioners often disagree on the benefits of aromatherapy. Studies show that while aromatherapy may be useful to induce relaxation, there is little evidence that essential oils can effectively treat any medical condition. However, naturopaths and their patients claim to find essential oils beneficial and ascribe their healing to the therapeutic effects.
Which Essential Oils Are Helpful for Tinnitus, and How Do You Use Them?
Before you try using essential oils to treat your tinnitus, it is important to know and follow some common safety precautions:
- Keep essential oils away from children and pets. Always consult with you pediatrician or veterinarian before you use essential oils in your home, as some oils can be toxic or can trigger allergic reactions.
- Never eat essential oils.
- Never put essential oils directly into your ears.
- Before using a new essential oil, always test a small drop on your wrist to ensure you do not have a skin sensitivity. If you prefer, you can dilute your essential oils before using them by mixing them into a carrier oil which is a fatty oil that help disperse the molecules of aromatic oils. Vegetable oil, olive oil and coconut oil are all popular options.
Patients who use essential oils for tinnitus relief believe massage is the best way to apply the oils to help relieve symptoms. Experiment with the oils below to find which work best for you (you can use one or a combination of several). Then, two to three times a day, massage them onto your neck, outer ear and ear lobe.
- Helichrysum (immortelle): this oil is said to be the most popular and beneficial. Practitioners believe it can help heal skin, repair blood vessels and nerves, reduce inflammation and heal emotional and physical scars.
- Lavender: this oil is popular because of its purported relaxation properties and its familiar floral scent. Practitioners believe lavender oil can help calm and soothe the mind and body and help lessen stress, anxiety, fear and tension, all of which aggravate tinnitus symptoms in some patients.
- Cypress: practitioners believe cypress stimulates blood circulation while calming the nervous system and that it can be particularly effective for treating pulsatile tinnitus.
- Juniper: practitioners see juniper as a detoxifier, believing it cleanses the blood, releases toxins from the body and promotes the excretion of uric acid.
- Patchouli: practitioners believe patchouli oil has both circulatory and draining properties.
- Green basil (ocimum basilicum): practitioners believe basil oil can act on and relax the smooth muscle cells in the ears and calm throbbing and pulsing sensations.
Petitgrain: petigrain comes from the leaves of the bitter orange tree. Practitioners believe this essential oil has calming and sedating properties and can help users cope with physical and emotional changes. They also believe it can act as an antispasmodic, helping to relieve tinnitus ringing due to muscle contractions in the ear.