Alternative Treatments for Ear Infections and Hearing Problems

Probably the best-researched alternative therapy is Ginkgo biloba extract. It has been the subject of several trials, including part of a double-blind trial with the drug pentoxifylline and 72 patients with sudden deafness. Ginkgo biloba extract proved to be more beneficial than pentoxifylline (Acta Otolaryngol, 2001; 121: 579-84). Another study of 106 patients with hearing loss found that high-dose Ginkgo could speed recovery after sudden SNHL ‘with a good chance that they will recover completely, even with little treatment’ (Eur Arch Otorhinolaryngol, 2001; 285: 213-9). Homoeopathy offers Pulsatilla as an aid against middle ear infection (J Am Inst Homeop, 1986; 79: 3-4); other remedies include Chenopodium for exposure to loud noise and Causticum for build-up of earwax. Aconite and Ferrum phos. may help in early-stage otitis media, and Salicylicum acidum, Chenopodium and Cinchona officinalis can help in the treatment of tinnitus (Alternative Medicine, Tiburon, California: Future Medicine Publishing, 1999).

Alpha-lipoic acid may also help protect against damage caused by loud noises. The agent reduces free radical formation and can lessen the nerve damage induced by antibiotics. Patients taking drugs that may cause hearing loss could reduce potential harm with 250 mg of alpha-lipoic acid twice a day. Osteopathy and chiropractic may be helpful in recurrent earache if it is caused by a mechanical problem at the top of the neck (Man Med, 1987; 25: 5-10). Another approach, sound therapy, is based on high-frequency soundwaves that stimulate the cilia – the hair-like sensory cells in the inner ear. It can also flip between channels, thereby forcing the ear muscles to tense and then relax, which may help restore muscle tone. Probably the best known of the sound therapies is based on the work and research of the French specialist Alfred Tomatis.

Herbal remedies that are also worth a try include a combination of goldenseal, mullein and hypericum in a glycerine base, which may reduce ear pain and help draw out excess fluid. Echinacea and goldenseal can also be used as antibacterials. For otitis media, some herbalists suggest Echinacea and cleavers tinctures. In traditional Chinese medicine, ear problems are associated with kidney functions, so acupuncture points related to the kidney are used, often in conjunction with herbals such as er long zuo gi wan. Ayurvedic medicine uses a combination of oils, massage, herbs and nutritional supplements. The most effective oil for treating ear infections is neem, which is both antibacterial and antifungal (Alternative Medicine, 1999).

Hearing loss that has a definite and identifiable cause can usually be treated. But nobody is sure what can be done to treat presbycusis, the type of hearing loss that seems to accompany old age. As with most conditions, prevention is better than cure. It’s almost certain that presbycusis is an environmental and life-style condition. A revised diet, which also includes plenty of the essential nutrients while excluding or reducing consumption of known allergens such as wheat and dairy, is important. And if you can combine this change with an avoidance of excessive noise, you should be well on the way to ensuring that you enjoy good hearing for the rest of your life. *

Sourced & published by Henry Sapiecha

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