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Tinnitus Library

Ask Barry - September 2011

Do you have questions about tinnitus, our products or specific treatments? Ask Barry. Arches President Barry Keate will select the most representative questions each month publication. Regardless all questions will receive a personal reply from Barry.

ASK BARRY Tinnitus expert, Barry Keate, answers your questions about Tinnitus Send your question to:  Ask Barry

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NOTE: Ask Barry is pleased to be able to answer your questions based upon the information we have available. Our answers to your email inquiries are not substitutes for a physician's advice nor are they reviewed by a physician. If you are under a physician's care, please share with your doctor any suggestions you have received from Ask Barry

This Month's Questions:

Xanax and Tinnitus

Dear Barry, One of my doctors has suggested that I try taking a Xanax to see if this will help me sleep better and deal with the tinnitus. Have you had any feedback on this approach? In particular, has anyone commented on whether taking a Xanax with or without the Arches Tinnitus Formula causes the tinnitus to get better vs. worse?

The doctor said I should try the Xanax for three days in a row. I took it along with Arches Tinnitus Formula for two days. After the first couple of days, it seemed that my tinnitus had worsened, but I am not completely sure. I don't know if the perception of the tinnitus being worse would have been due to the Xanax or to my normal "ebb and flow" of the tinnitus being tolerable at times vs. worse at times.

I would appreciate if you could please let me know whether or not you have heard what type of impact taking Xanax has on tinnitus. Have people reported positive effects, negative effects, etc.

Kind Regards, Rich O.

Dear Rich, This is a very good question and one that doesn't get enough attention. Xanax is very commonly prescribed by ENTs for their tinnitus patients. It is used as an anti-anxiety medication and many patients receive benefit from its use. Benefits include lowered anxiety, lowered tinnitus levels and better sleep.

Xanax is in a class of drugs called benzodiazepines. These medications bind to the GABA receptors in the brain and help to calm it. GABA is the primary inhibitory neurotransmitter in the brain and it counteracts the activity of glutamate, an excitatory neurotransmitter. There has been a lot of research into medications that act on neurotransmitters to help modulate tinnitus. Of particular interest is Dr. Abraham Shulman's studies of the medications Neurontin and Klonopin in reducing tinnitus. An article on this can be seen here.

On the negative side, benzodiazepine medications affect motor skills and can be addicting. A person should be very careful driving or operating equipment while using these medications. Xanax can also cause or worsen tinnitus in up to 6.6% of people who use it. For these reasons, I am not a fan of Xanax.

There are many effective ways to get to sleep without using prescription medications. GABA supplements are one component. GABA is an inexpensive product found in most health food stores. It is not addicting and doesn't impair motor skills. A typical dosage for sleep may be 500 - 1,000 mg taken an hour before bedtime.

There are other supplements that can be used as well. An article on “Sleep and Tinnitus” may be of value.

Wishing you quiet times, Barry Keate

GABA for Tinnitus?

Hi Barry, Would you recommend GABA powder for tinnitus?

Thank you, Steve C.

Hi Steve, Yes, I would recommend GABA for tinnitus, along with Arches Tinnitus Formulas. GABA may not directly lower tinnitus as does Arches Tinnitus Formula™, but it can be very helpful for reducing stress and aiding relaxation, thereby indirectly reducing tinnitus. GABA is known as a brain calming agent.

There are some indications that GABA may also reduce tinnitus by its role in antagonizing glutamate. Glutamate is an excitatory neurotransmitter in the brain and GABA is an inhibitory transmitter. The two must be in balance to maintain a healthy, energetic brain that is not either overexcited or underexcited. When the cochlea is damaged by loud noise, ototoxic medications or disease, it produces an overabundance of glutamate. GABA is but one brain calming supplement that can help restore the proper balance.

There is much discussion about the bioavailability of GABA. Some say the molecule is too large to cross the blood-brain barrier and is therefore ineffective. I know this to be untrue as I, and many others, have taken it to good effect. It does require a higher dosage though. I recommend 500-750 mg two or three times daily.

Another alternative is L-theanine. This is an extract of green tea and is a precursor to GABA. It converts to GABA in the brain. It easily crosses the blood-brain barrier so less is needed. About 200 mg two or three times daily should suffice. I am going to engage in a comparison test, using myself as the guinea pig, to determine which is more effective for me.

Wishing you quiet times, Barry Keate

How much Zinc is safe for Tinnitus?

Hello Barry, Can you advise me about a supplement containing 220 mg of amino acid chelated zinc per tablet? Is this too much to take daily?

Kind regards, Barbara H.

Dear Barbara, This is an extremely high dosage and I do not recommend you use it daily. If you already have the product, you can take one every other day but only for about 1-2 months. Generally, dosages as high as 90 mg daily may be taken, but only for short periods of time. Zinc overdose (150-450 mg daily) is linked to copper deficiency, anemia, reduced immune function, nausea, hair loss, low levels of good cholesterol, and other side-effects.

Arches Tinnitus Formula™ contains a daily dosage of 30 mg of zinc. We assume many people are also taking a multivitamin which may contain up to another 20 mg. This amounts to a total of 50 mg zinc daily, a dosage that is considered safe but is also effective in reducing tinnitus.

Wishing you quiet times, Barry Keate