by Barry Keate
Lipoflavonoid® is a proprietary over-the-counter nutritional product created in 1961 by DSE Healthcare Solutions for the treatment of Meniere’s disease. Meniere’s disease is characterized by ear fullness, vertigo, nausea and a low-pitched roaring tinnitus. Lipoflavonoid is manufactured and marketed by Numark Laboratories of Edison, NJ, a subsidiary of DSE Healthcare. Much of the marketing effort for Lipoflavonoid is directed toward those people who experience tinnitus.
There are many products, especially on the internet, that are advertised to help people with tinnitus. Some of these products are outright scams, promising to cure tinnitus overnight. There is no magic-bullet cure for tinnitus and the wise person will avoid products that sound too good to be true. Lipoflavonoid is not one of these phony products. It is a reputable product from a good manufacturer. But how effective is it? Does it work for tinnitus? If so, for which types of tinnitus is it effective? These questions are the subject of this discussion.
Lipoflavonoid contains the following ingredients and amounts per serving:
- Lemon bioflavonoid complex 300 mg
- Ascorbic acid (Vitamin C) 300 mg
- Choline bitartrate 334 mg
- Inositol 334 mg
- Thiamine (Vitamin B-1) 1 mg
- Niacinamide (Vitamin B-3) 10 mg
- Pyridoxine (Vitamin B-6) 1 mg
- Cyanocobalamin (Vitamin B-12) 5 mcg
- Pantothenate 5 mg
- Riboflavin (Vitamin B-2) 1 mg
With the exception of lemon bioflavonoid complex and ascorbic acid, all the ingredients are part of the vitamin B family and are readily available inmost B-Complex vitamin products. Lemon bioflavonoid complex is the active ingredient for reducing symptoms of Meniere’s disease.
In 1963, a research paper was published in Otology, Rhinology and Laryngology 1 in which this product was tested on 197 patients who had hearing loss, most with symptoms of Meniere’s. The paper includes an in-depth discussion of eriodictyol glycoside, which is a flavanone component of citrus bioflavonoids. Eriodictyol glycoside is the active ingredient in lemon bioflavonoid complex and is found in citrus fruits and juices, specifically orange, grapefruit and lemon.
While the mechanism of action of eriodictyol glycoside is not well understood, it is thought that it may act on histamine, which appears to play a role in the control of microcirculation in the inner ear. It is known that inducing histamine will reproduce the symptoms and pathology of Meniere’s disease. So, lemon bioflavonoid complex and eriodictyol glycoside may act as an antihistamine for people with this disease.
Of the 197 patients in the study, 122 had hearing loss due to Meniere’s disease and 75 had hearing loss due to other causes, including sensorineural hearing loss. Of the Meniere’s patients, 24 (19.6%) experienced no effect from eriodictyol glycoside, 45 (36.9%) had no change in hearing but relief of vertigo and 50 patients (41%) had improved hearing and relief of vertigo.
In the 75 patients with hearing loss due to other causes, 52 patients had sensorineural hearing loss. Of these, 41 (78.8%) had no improvement in hearing and 11 (21.2%) had hearing improvement.
In summary, the authors concluded that eriodictyol glycoside has a beneficial effect on certain individuals with hearing loss, usually those associated with vertigo and other symptoms of Meniere’s disease.
During the 1960s, many Ear, Nose & Throat physicians and clinics began to prescribe Lipoflavonoid for various forms of hearing loss other than Meniere’s disease. In response, a double-blind, placebo controlled study was undertaken at the Audiology Center of Walter Reed Hospital in 1966 to evaluate the effects of lemon bioflavonoid complex on three types of hearing loss, excluding Meniere’s disease.2 The three types of hearing loss studied were:
- Noise-induced hearing loss
- Presbycusis (age-related hearing loss)
- Hearing loss of indeterminate cause (excluding Meniere’s)
Seventy five patients were included in the study. Twenty of these had noise-induced hearing loss, 20 had presbycusis and 35 were in the undetermined group. Thirty five patients were in the test group using lemon bioflavonoid complex and 40 were in the control group given a placebo. The test group was given a lemon bioflavonoid complex dosage equal to 4 times the recommended dose of Lipoflavonoid.
The results of the study showed that only one person in the group of 75 patients showed a hearing improvement. This patient was part of the presbycusis group who had been given a placebo! In none of the three groups given lemon bioflavonoid complex was there any improvement in hearing or decrease in tinnitus over that brought about by placebo. The researchers concluded that further prescription of Lipoflavonoid in these types of sensori-neural hearing loss appears to be without justification.
Most knowledgeable ENTs and hearing professionals are aware of this fact. In the words of Levi Reiter, PhD, Professor of Audiology at Hofstra University, “There are no research papers that I am aware of that demonstrate the effectiveness of Lipoflavonoid or lemon bioflavonoid complex for tinnitus. However, there are references to its use for Meniere’s disease as it seems to act as an antihistamine.” 3
I believe Lipoflavonoid has a place in the treatment arsenal for some types of tinnitus. It may be helpful for those who have Meniere’s disease due to its antihistamine effect. It may also help those who suffer allergies or other inflammatory conditions that contribute to their tinnitus. It does not apprear to be effective for noise-induced tinnitus, age-related hearing loss, tinnitus caused by ototoxicity, or varying illnesses that can affect tinnitus.
Arches Tinnitus Stress Formula® also contains citrus bioflavonoids, the source of eriodictyol glycoside plus includes 100 mg of the major B vitamins, all components of the B vitamin family. There is considerable clinical experience with this vitamin family by tinnitus health care practitioners which show the many positive effects of B vitamin supplementation.Our Information Center has an article on the importance of B vitamins for tinnitus.
Meanwhile, an extract of Ginkgo biloba leaves was first developed by the Dr. Willmar Schwabe Company of Germany in 1965. The product became available under the trademark name, Tebonin. A concentrated, more highly purified extract was then developed and offered under the trademark Tanakan in 1974. Since then, Ginkgo Biloba Extract (EGb) has become the most studied herb in the world. In the 1970s, 80s and 90s there were numerous world-wide studies conducted with this herb on it’s effectiveness for tinnitus, the great majority of which were very favorable.4 It was also found to reduce symptoms of Meniere’s disease.5 Additionally, zinc has been found to be helpful in reducing tinnitus.6
Arches Tinnitus Relief Formula® includes pharmaceutical-grade Ginkgo biloba, chealted zinc and deodorized garlic. You can read an in-depth discussion of the science behind Arches Tinnitus Formula in our Tinnitus Information Center. You can also view a head-to-head comparison in our article Compare Arches Tinnitus Formula and Lipo-Flavonoid.
1 - Williams HL, Maher FT, Corbin KB, et al. Eriodictyol glycoside in the treatment of Meniere’s disease. Ann Otol Rhinol Laryngol. 1963 Dec;72:1082-101.
2 - Creston JE, Gillespie MR, Larson AL. Bioflavonoid therapy in sensori-neural hearing loss. A double-blind study. Trans AM Acad Opthalmol Otolaryngol. 1966 Sep-Oct;70(5):825-40.
3 - On-line forum, http://en.allexperts.com/q/Audiology-Otolaryngology-963/tinnitus-1.htm
4 - Holstein N. Ginkgo special extract EGb 761 in the treatment of tinnitus: a survey of the results obtained in clinical trials. Fortschr. Med. 118 (2000), p.157-164.
5 - Hagaenauer JP, Cantenot F, Koskas H, Pierart H. Treatment of equilibrium disorders with Ginkgo biloba extract. a multicenter double-blind drug vs. placebo study. Presse Med 1986 Sep 25; 15(31):1569-72.
6 - Arda HN, Tuncel U, Akdogin O, Ozluoglu L. The role of zinc in the treatment of tinnitus. Otol Neurotol 2003 Jan;24(1)86-89.