Questions asked by real people with tinnitus. Answered by tinnitus authority Barry Keate.

Arches Natural Products President, Barry Keate, understands the suffering caused by tinnitus. Having lived with tinnitus for over five decades, Barry is an expert on the condition and has made the recovery from tinnitus his life’s work.
NOTE: Ask Barry is pleased to be able to answer your questions based upon the information we have available. Our answers to inquiries are not substitutes for a physician’s advice nor are they reviewed by a physician. We encourage you to share any suggestions you have received from Ask Barry with your doctor.

February 2021 Ask Barry

The COVID Vaccine and Tinnitus

Hi Barry,

I was wondering if you can comment on the possible ototoxicity of the COVID vaccine or is it too soon to tell? If those of us have had problems with hearing loss and increase in tinnitus from the flu shot in the past, would you recommend that we did NOT get the COVID vaccine? Are there similarities?

I realize COVID itself can possibly cause hearing loss, tinnitus and dizziness as can the medicine used to treat it. It’s a real dilemma.

Thank you,

Dear Jory,

I cannot comment on this because I don’t know. There has not been any research I’m aware of that indicates whether or not the vaccine causes tinnitus. I believe it acts a lot like the flu vaccine. I’m surprised you have had a problem with the flu vaccine. It’s the first I’ve heard.

I would not advise you to avoid the COVID vaccine(s). You can prepare yourself by taking antioxidants before and after the vaccine. I recommend 1,000 mg NAC, taken twice daily. Magnesium is also been shown to prevent hearing loss and tinnitus. Take a good quality product, not magnesium oxide but one chelated for easier absorption. Magnesium aspartate or magnesium citrate are good products. Take about 400 mg twice daily. Start two weeks before the vaccination and continue for a month afterward.

Wishing you quiet times,
Barry Keate

When your child has severe tinnitus…


We have tried many things over the last 7-8 months (including Arches and Lipoflavonoid) and unfortunately my son’s tinnitus has reached a point where he has been suicidal on occasion. He has other ailments but tinnitus is the driver that gets him to hopelessness.

He also suffers from OCD and anxiety and you had a good article about reducing stress and anxiety I shared with him. He knows he will probably feel better if he can reduce anxiety but, unfortunately, it’s not an on-off button. He can’t seem to get results from therapy and meditation. He’s even in a three-hour-per-day intensive program now.

His psychiatrist wants to prescribe Prozac (and his ENT said he’s not worried about that) but I remember reading that you cited it and other SSRIs as a potential cause of increased ringing but that article is kind of old now. Have you seen new research about drugs that can reduce anxiety without boosting the tinnitus? He takes mertazapine but he needs something else.

Sorry for this long note but I know you read all the studies carefully so I wonder if you have advice for us.


Dear Matthew,

I’m so sorry your son is suffering so much. Tinnitus can be multifaceted and many things play into it. I know his anxiety is making it much worse but, you’re right, it’s not an on-off button and his tinnitus is also worsening his anxiety.

I’m not totally down on SSRI antidepressants but they can worsen a number of things. There are a couple of hundred potential side effects. They cause or worsen tinnitus in about 10% of people so your son may not be affected. If he starts getting worse tinnitus, stop immediately. I hope he is helped by it. He could also take NAC along with the Prozac. NAC helps protect the ears. It’s cheap and easily found. I recommend 1,000 mg twice daily.

There is another way to increase serotonin in the brain. L-Tryptophan and 5-HTP are dietary supplements that actually create serotonin, where SSRI antidepressants only keep existing serotonin active for a longer time. As they are supplements, they’re not as strong as prescription medications and may not help. But they may.

Do not combine these supplements with Prozac! There is a potentially deadly side effect, called Serotonin Syndrome, which can occur. If you want to try the supplements, try them first, then the Prozac if they don’t help.

There is also a medical treatment called Cognitive Behavioral Therapy that’s used in many advanced clinics. This trains the brain to stop reacting negatively to the tinnitus sound. It is effective on many people and your son may be doing some of it in his therapy sessions.

Acupuncture can help the anxiety. If the anxiety goes down, the tinnitus does too. My wife had an acupuncture treatment and came home so relaxed she could barely walk. It lasted a few days. Don’t discount acupuncture. It can be combined with any other therapy.

Biofeedback is used in several major tinnitus clinics. Its a computer-based therapy that allows people to learn how to control various body functions like, blood pressure, heart rate, skin temperature and stress. It takes some time but can be astoundingly effective. The patient slowly learns the trick of going into a state where these can be accomplished. People can actually increase the heat in one hand while leaving the other normal. They can decrease heart rate and blood pressure.

This is a lot but I hope something in here will work. A last thought; people typically find that over the years they habituate to their tinnitus and it becomes more bearable. The brain cannot continue to exist in a state of panic. It will eventually relent and become used to the sound. When they do, tinnitus typically becomes less of a problem.

I hope your son improves greatly,
Barry Keate

Are there allergens in Ginkgo?

Hi Barry,

I just read that Ginkgo has alkylphenols in it, and the article said that people who are highly allergic to poison ivy should avoid taking Ginkgo. Is this true?

Jane L.

Dear Jane,

This is partially true. Ginkgo biloba does contain alkyphenols, the primary one being ginkgolic acid, which is an allergen and “can” produce allergic reactions like poison ivy. However, most reputable manufacturers remove this during the extraction process. The German Commission E standard for ginkgo extracts requires there be less than 5 ppm (parts per million) ginkgolic acid. Some less than reputable manufacturers don’t remove it.

Arches Tinnitus Formula uses our proprietary ginkgo extract Ginkgo Max 26/7, which contains less than 1 ppm ginkgolic acid. This means it is non-detectable. For greater detail you can view our entire Certificate of Analysis.

Wishing you quiet times,
Barry Keate

January 2021 Ask Barry

Is 5G Tinnitus Real?

Hi Barry,

I just read your article EMF, Wifi and Tinnitus: Is there a link?

It is the best information I have found so far as I have recently started hearing a high-pitched hissing constantly at my home or office but when I drove out to the country it decreased greatly. I am suspecting the 5G cellular signals may have something to do with it. Have you heard from anyone else about this? Can you recommend any other sources I can go to? This is very distressing.

Thank you so much for your time.
Andrew I.

Dear Andrew,

This is a very controversial question, which infuriates the communications industry, who deny any harmful effects. The Internet is rife with stories of people who claim to have experienced harm from cell phone use. I am leery of publishing these accounts as they are anecdotal, and therefore difficult to prove.

However, I found a blog on the site of Scientific American by Joel M. Moskowitz, PhD, who is director of the Center for Family and Community Health at the University of California, Berkeley. Dr. Moskowitz has been producing research on wireless radiation health effects since 2009.

He stated that there has been very little research on the effects of 4G radiation on the population and none on 5G. The essential difference between the two is 5G is a higher frequency therefore, has a shorter wavelength. The shorter wavelengths don’t penetrate buildings or other obstacles as effectively as 4G and have a limited reach. Because of this it will require many more cell towers, up to 800,000 or more, than are currently in use. We are embarking on this gigantic effort without the scientific background to know whether or not it is safe.

This is a long article and I will provide a link for those who wish to read it in its entirety. One of the basic tenets of the article is the FCC is basing its radio frequency exposure guidelines on research from the 1980’s. The exposure limits are based on behavioral changes in rats exposed to microwave radiation and were designed to protect us from short-term heating risks due to radio frequency exposure.

Since the FCC adopted these limits, over 500 studies have found harmful biologic or health effects from exposure to radio frequency at intensities too low to cause heating. Citing this large body of research, more than 240 scientists who have published peer-reviewed research on the biological and health effects of electromagnetic fields have signed the International EMF Scientists Appeal, which calls for stronger exposure limits.

There is much, more to this article. Those who wish to view the entire paper can view it here: We Have No Reason to Believe 5G Is Safe

Wishing you quiet times,
Barry Keate


If Tinnitus Formula doesn’t help… what’s next?

Hi Barry,

I’ve been taking your supplements for about 3 months for my tinnitus and it hasn’t helped. Do you have a suggestion?

Marica S.

Dear Marcia,

I’m sorry our product didn’t help. It helps about 75% to 80% of people who have tinnitus due to hearing loss. This is the majority of people with tinnitus but not all. Perhaps you have it due to another medical condition. In that case you should see an ENT and an Audiologist to find out what’s wrong.

There are other therapies. The one most used by tinnitus specialists is Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. This is a sort of psychological counseling that trains people to get their mind off tinnitus so the aggravation and distress of tinnitus is lowered.

A therapy I like a lot is Biofeedback. In this therapy, electrodes connected to a computer feed information such as stress levels, blood pressure, skin temperature, heart rate and brain waves into it. The patient practices with different thoughts and emotions and soon is able to control these variables. The results can be dramatic and people are able to control skin temperature, slow heart rate, and lower blood pressure. They can even raise skin temperature in one hand while the other remains the same.

Lastly, acupuncture can be used. This therapy allows people to control and balance the basic life energy called “qi” (pronounced chee). During illness, including mental illness, this force is out of balance. Acupuncture allows the patient to re-balance this force. It is often used with herbalism and lifestyle changes to help the patient return to a balanced state.

I hope this is helpful for you and will help reduce your tinnitus.

Wishing you quiet times,
Barry Keate

Tinnitus Formula worked before, but will it work again?


Your products are great. I started using them in 2015 after an episode of Tinnitus and hearing loss. After much research, I found your product. Your personal story is what convinced me to go with your product originally. It worked!

Unfortunately, it worked so well that I stopped using them after much success.

Recently my tinnitus increased like crazy and with more hearing loss. An ENT doctor said my audiogram was the same as in 2015. But I felt it was worse. The doctor shot my ear full of steroids and they gave me steroids orally and my hearing loss has improved 25%.

The tinnitus is out of control and my hearing loss in the severe to profound high frequency level. I am 64. Do you feel your Tinnitus Combo Pack will get me back in line to a degree?

Also, what are your thoughts on the FX 322 therapeutic drug by Frequency Therapeutics? It seems to have promise in helping to a degree with hearing disorders. I will never stop taking your products again. Trust me on that… What is an ear worth? Lol…

Thank you,
George F.

Dear George,

Thank you. I’m very happy our products worked for you so well. They should do the same thing again and relieve the sound and aggravation that goes along with tinnitus… Just give it time to work again.

I looked into FX-322 from Frequency Therapeutics. They propose that their formula will regenerate damaged auditory nerve cells in the ear and improve hearing. It is applied by intratympanic injection. This means it is injected through the eardrum and sits on the cochlea, in the middle ear. In order to keep it from draining out through the Eustachian tube, it must be in a gel form that will stick where it’s placed.

The product is now in Phase 2 trials and, if everything goes right, will enter Phase 3 trials later this year. It will then take another year for the trial, then more time to meet the regulatory hurdles and become available to doctors.

This is pretty exciting and shows there is hope. However, it’s not a slam-dunk. About 90% of drugs, for any condition, do not show improvement in Phase 3 trials and are abandoned. Whether it is effective or not, it shows major progress toward finally treating hearing loss. I’ll await further results and thank you for sending this to me.

Wishing you quiet times,
Barry Keate

December 2020 Ask Barry

New to Tinnitus and Anxious

Hi Barry,

I have been experiencing ringing in my ears for the three weeks and is very scary and making me anxious. I have taken a hearing test which shows that, my ears are clear. No fluids in my ears and no earwax.

The Audiologist said my hearing is a bit declined due to my age and advised me to do a hearing test every year. My question is…. Can Arches Tinnitus Formula help reduce or relieve this terrible noise in my ears?

I would like to try it, but there so many other products on the market and is hard to trust which one is actually real genuine and effective.

Thank you,
Alberta A.

Dear Alberta,

The decline in your hearing is most likely the cause of your tinnitus. About 80% of all tinnitus cases are due to hearing loss. Arches Tinnitus Formula is especially helpful for this kind of tinnitus and has been helping people for over 21 years. It must be used for 3 months to get the full effect so we recommend Arches Starter Kit, a full 3-month supply of 4 bottles.

I know the market is confusing and there are many companies claiming to have a cure. There is no “cure” for tinnitus but there is relief from the noise and aggravation. You have to look at the science to determine the best product. Arches Tinnitus Formula is scientifically based and there are many clinical studies showing effectiveness in reducing tinnitus.

Wishing you quiet times,
Barry Keate

Benzos v. Anxiolytics for Anxiety and Tinnitus

Hi Barry.

My doc put me on a lorazepam then switched me over to another anti-anxiety drug, buspirone. But it still seems to increase tinnitus. Are there any anti-anxiety drugs you suggest? I’m at end of rope on this tinnitus. I also have ETD which makes it all a joy.

Scott J.

Dear Scott,

Yes, buspirone, an anxiolytic, is a common cause of tinnitus as are benzodiazepines (lorazepam) and other anti-anxiety medications. None of these are safe to take over long periods of time even though they are often prescribed for mitigating tinnitus.

They are addictive and the dosage needs to increase over time or the patient goes into withdrawal. Even if they don’t worsen tinnitus initially, the withdrawal period increases the symptoms for which they were originally given, including tinnitus.

I don’t recommend taking any benzodiazepine (often called benzos) medications, on a regular basis. They should only be used for a short term of 2-3 weeks. Once dependency occurs, the withdrawal period can last months.

Professor Heather Ashton runs a withdrawal clinic in the UK and has written a manual on withdrawing from benzodiazepines. She says withdrawal for many people is more difficult than withdrawing from heroin. We have an article about this here.

There are alternatives to these prescription meds. As discussed in the article, benzodiazepine medication increases the amount of GABA in the brain. GABA is a calming neurotransmitter and ofsets the effects of glutamate, an excitatory neurotransmitter. When glutamate predominates, the brain enters a hyper-excited state and causes many neurological conditions, including tinnitus. When GABA predominates, it calms the brain and reduces the conditions.

A safer alternative is to purchase GABA in health food stores or online. You can also use L-Theanine. Both of these increase GABA in the brain without the side effects of the prescription meds. They are not addicting and don’t cause tinnitus. Typical doses are discussed in the article.

Arches Tinnitus Formula is also very helpful. Bilobalide, one of the constituents in ginkgo and our Ginkgo Max 26/7, is a powerful glutamate antagonist and reduces its effect.

Arches Tinnitus Formula, being a natural dietary supplement, takes longer to be effective than prescription meds. It must be used for three months to get the full effect. We recommend Arches Starter Kit, a full three-month supply of four bottles.

Eustachian Tube Dysfunction (ETD) can be a thorny issue and occurs when the Eustachian tube fails to open during chewing, swallowing, or yawning. Sometimes decongestants, antihistamines, or steroids are effective treatment. During diagnosis, it is important to rule out possible underlying causes like TMJ dysfunction or migraine headache.

Wishing you quiet times,
Barry Keate

SSRIs v. Tryptophan or 5HTP for Depression

Hi Barry

Low serotonin has been related to depression and tinnitus. Yet recent research has indicated that neurons known as fusiform cells within the portion of the brain associated with tinnitus become hyperactive and hypersensitive to stimuli when exposed to serotonin.

SSRIs used for depression are not advised for tinnitus sufferers because increased serotonin worsens tinnitus. I would think this would be true of tryptophan and 5HTP. Are tinnitus sufferers in a double bind situation? Helping depression via SSRIs will worsen your tinnitus?

Best wishes,

Dear Peter,

Thanks for sending in this question. I have seen it before and examined the study and the published commentary on it. I don’t buy into this for the following reasons:

1 – This is basic research conducted in a test tube on animal cells. Very few of these kinds of studies are proven out in large studies on people. Researchers will typically extract the cells they want to study then flood the cells with thousands of times the dosage that would be taken in real life.

A similar type of study a number of years ago showed Ginkgo biloba caused cancer. This created a huge response but ended up being disregarded because of the way the study was conducted. They used ginkgo from China that was not being sold on any market and was undefined. They did not analyze the ginkgo beforehand so we don’t know what was in it or if it was contaminated in any way. Then they administered 16,000 times what a normal person would take and observed there was cancer in some of the samples. This was a very shoddy trial that didn’t prove anything.

2 – Serotonin does not cause or worsen tinnitus. SSRI antidepressants do but that’s because they are synthetic medications that have hundreds of unwanted, sometimes horrible, side effects, including tinnitus. The Physician’s Desk reference lists tinnitus as a common side effect of SSRI medications. SSRI is an acronym for Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitor. In other words, the medication keeps serotonin from being reabsorbed into the neuron that produced it, keeping the serotonin in action between neurons for a longer time. It does not increase serotonin. I am opposed to the huge amount of prescriptions written for these medications and don’t believe they are really effective

Several years ago, my wife started taking Prozac, a popular SSRI antidepressant. She used it for several months. Over time her muscles started stiffening up. She got to the point where she could only walk a short distance before her leg muscles seized up. We were thinking she had Multiple Sclerosis. It turned out to be a side effect of the Prozac called Neuroleptic Malignant Syndrome, which mimics MS. She stopped taking it immediately but suffers muscle stiffness to this day.

3 – Tryptophan and 5-HTP are organic amino acids which are precursors to serotonin. They are converted in the brain to serotonin and are the only way to actually increase serotonin levels. Millions of people use one of these to increase serotonin and I have not heard of a single case, in my 22 years in this field, where tinnitus was caused or worsened by these substances. Tryptophan and 5-HTP are perfectly safe to use.

Wishing you quiet times,
Barry Keate

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