By Barry Keate
Barry Keate, has lived with tinnitus over 40 years and has published 150+ research articles on numerous aspects of tinnitus. He is an expert on the condition and a well-known advocate for those with tinnitus.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is finding increasing acceptance among health care professionals in the US. A growing number of ENT doctors now recommend acupuncture for tinnitus if other mainstream options prove unsuccessful.
We previously published Acupuncture and Tinnitus by Beth Kohn, a licensed acupuncture therapist at the Center for Integrative Medicine at Henry Ford Health System. Since the publication of that article there have been numerous clinical studies conducted around the world that show acupuncture is helpful for most patients.
In her article, Ms Kohn lays out the principles of acupuncture and how it works. She describes the philosophy and physiology of acupuncture and how it fits into Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), and highlights the most common patterns associated with tinnitus and how it is treated.
One of the clinical trials that have surfaced since then was conducted at a hospital in Hubei Province in central China. The researchers studied the effects of a combination of acupuncture and ginger moxibustion on patients with intractable tinnitus. (1)
There were 34 patients in the study who were treated every day for 10 days. The results showed 22 patients (64.17%) had complete resolution of their tinnitus, 5 patients (14.71%) showed marked improvement, 4 patients (11.76%) had moderate improvement and 3 patients (8.82%) had no improvement. The overall effective rate was 91.18%. Four months after the treatment, 27 patients in the study experienced no worsening or recurrence of symptoms.
Moxibustion is a term largely unknown in the West. It involves the burning of herbs over an acupuncture point to improve the healing powers of the procedure. The primary herb used in moxibustion is mugwort. It is dried, powdered and rolled into a moxa stick, which is then used with acupuncture. Ginger is used to improve blood circulation in the ears.
In ginger moxibustion pieces of ginger are sliced into 1 cm thick cubes with a small, needle-punctured hole in the center. The moxa sticks are then placed on the ginger and lit. In this study, the ginger-moxa compound was placed on the outer ear until the moxa burned out. The potency of the ginger can reach deeper into the tissue with the heat of moxibustion. It is used to increase blood circulation in the ear.
A second study was conducted in Iran and published in 2018. (2) This study was a randomized, placebo-controlled study of 88 participants, 44 in the case group and 44 in the placebo group. Researchers used acupuncture in conjunction with Chinese herbs.
Animal and human studies have shown the stimulation of acupuncture points leads to changes and the release of neurotransmitters, such as serotonin, oxytocin and endorphin in the central nervous system. In addition, MRI scans have shown improvement in blood flow in the different parts of the brain caused by acupuncture stimulation.
Patients received 15 acupuncture sessions, 3 times per week. At the end of the fifth (T1), tenth (T2) and fifteenth (T3) sessions, as well as 3 weeks after the completion of the course (T4) all patients filled the TSI questionnaire and VAS score.
Tinnitus Severity Index (TSI) and the Visual Analog Score (VAS) measure tinnitus loudness. Both were used after each time interval.
On the TSI score (severity), the average decrease went from 41.4 at the beginning of the trial to 24.82 at T3 and 23.11 at T4, 3 weeks after sessions ended. This is a decrease of 44%. For the placebo group the decrease was 11%.
On the VAS score (loudness), the average decrease went from 7.58 at the beginning to 2.88 at T3 and 2.25 at T4, 3 weeks after ending. This was a decrease of 70%. The placebo group had a decrease of 15%.
Both VAS and TSI measure improved after 15 sessions and continued for at least 3 weeks beyond. The researchers concluded, “Acupuncture is effective in reducing the loudness and severity of tinnitus and can be a useful treatment for non-pulsatile chronic tinnitus.”
A more recent study was published in the journal Chinese Acupuncture and Moxibustion in September, 2021. (3) This study used the Tinnitus Evaluation Questionnaire (TEQ) and Tinnitus Handicap Inventory (THI). They were used to evaluate baseline and progress during the study.
Thirty-one patients with tinnitus were admitted into the hospital. Treatment was administered every other day for 30 minutes per session for 10 weeks. Moxa pieces were connected to the end of the needles and burned. Additionally, 0.5 g of the Chinese herb Bingpian was delivered to the outer ear through a tube. The tubes were applied to the outer-ear at bedtime for a minimum of 6 hours.
Both the TEQ and THI scores were significantly improved with a total effective rate of 93.5%.
Arches Tinnitus Formula (ATF) provides an excellent complement to acupuncture for treating tinnitus. It is a great example of East meets West for tinnitus treatment. The mechanisms of action for both therapies are similar. One of the primary effects of ATF is improved blood flow, especially to the microcapillaries that feed the brain, eyes and ears. Acupuncture also aims to improve blood circulation in these areas.
The other primary functions of ATF are antioxidant effects, which neutralize dangerous free radicals, and the ability to reduce glutamate, an excitatory neurotransmitter. Acupuncture also changes neurotransmitters to promote the ones most helpful.
Arches Tinnitus Combo Pack includes a three-month supply of ATF along with Arches Stress and B12 Formulas, which provide high potency B-complex vitamins to stabilize the Central Nervous System and mitigate tinnitus-related stress.
A combination of treatment therapies for tinnitus, including both Arches Tinnitus Formulas and acupuncture can prove to be an effective, clinically sound option.
1 – Li Shilin, Yan Xiao, Yingli Song, Jiang Wu. “Efficacy Observation of Acupuncture Combined with Ginger Moxibustion to Treatment of 34 Cases of Intractable Tinnitus.” Zhongyi Zhongyao (Traditional Chinese Medicine and Herbs) Aug 2013: 277-278.
2 – Bahram Naderinabi, Soheil Soltanipour, Shadman Nemati, et al. Acupuncture for Chronic Nonpulsatile Tinnitus: A Randomized Clinical Trial. Caspain J Inter Med. 2018 Wonter; 9(1): 38-45.
3 – Zhang Wanlin, 31 Cases on Treating Subjective Tinnitus with Acupuncture and Bingpian, Chinese Acupuncture & Moxibustion. Sep. 2021, Vol. 41 No. 9.