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.
Recently it has become evident that melatonin plays a strong role in controlling weight gain and blood pressure, improving glucose (sugar) metabolism and reducing type 2 diabetes. Since high blood pressure and reduced glucose metabolism directly worsen tinnitus, reducing these factors will lead to improved tinnitus. Here is the story of our new understanding of melatonin and its effect on our bodies.
Sleep, Melatonin and Tinnitus
It has been known for some time that melatonin can improve sleep in those with tinnitus and, as a consequence, help in reducing their tinnitus symptoms. In 1998, a clinical study at the Ear Research Foundation in Sarasota, FL found, “Among subjects reporting difficulty sleeping attributable to their tinnitus, 46.7% reported an overall improvement after melatonin…” They concluded, “Melatonin has been shown to be useful in the treatment of subjective tinnitus. Patients with high THI (Tinnitus Handicap Inventory) scores and/or difficulty sleeping are most likely to benefit from treatment with melatonin. In light of its minimal side effects, melatonin should be part of the physician’s armamentarium in the treatment of tinnitus.” (1)
Quiet Times previously published an article about the relationship between Melatonin, Sleep and Tinnitus.
Tinnitus, Melatonin and Diabetes
In 2004, another study conducted at the Federal University of Rio Grande School of Medicine in Brazil found that between 84% and 92% of tinnitus patients have a metabolic disorder called hyperinsulinemia. This is an elevation of insulin levels in the bloodstream and is a direct result of a metabolic disorder called insulin resistance, where insulin becomes less effective in converting glucose to energy. Insulin resistance is a major step in the slide toward type 2 diabetes. (2)
Researchers placed 80 subjects on a two-year diet suitable for diabetics. The purpose of the diet was to return insulin to normal levels. At the end of the study, over 50% of the subjects who adhered to the diet had significant improvement or complete resolution of their tinnitus. We published an article about this titled Sugar Metabolism, Ketones and Tinnitus.
A study that looked at the relationship between melatonin and diabetes was part of the Nurse’s Health Study. This study began in 1976 when more than 120,000 female nurses aged 30 to 55 years returned a health questionnaire. The nurses contributed biennial histories of health status, medications, dietary intake, lifestyle factors including smoking, physical activity and sleeping patterns. In addition to the questionnaires, over 18,000 women provided blood and first morning urine samples. The Nurses Health Study continues to this day and this portion of it was published in the prestigious Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA). (3)
There were 370 cases of type 2 diabetes that developed between 2000 and 2012 among women who were first declared to be non-diabetic at the beginning of the study. These were compared to 370 participants who did not develop diabetes. Compared with the controls, women who developed diabetes had significantly higher Body Mass Indices (BMI), were less physically active, consumed less alcohol and cereal fiber and more trans-fats, and had lower overall dietary quality scores. They also slept fewer hours per night and were more likely to snore and to have a personal history of hypertension and a family history of diabetes.
Melatonin secretion in first morning urine was compared in all subjects. Women in the highest category of melatonin secretion had a diabetes rate of 4.27 cases/1,000 person years while those in the lowest category had 9.27 cases/1,000 person years. Those with lower melatonin secretion in their urine had an odds ratio of 2.17 of developing type 2 diabetes. In other words, melatonin reduced the incidence of developing diabetes by more than half!
The researchers also referred to other studies where melatonin administration to insulin resistant mice reversed insulin resistance and improved glucose metabolism. Also, in vitro studies with human pancreatic cells demonstrated that prolonged exposure of cells to melatonin improved insulin sensitivity.
It is clear that melatonin reduces the risk of developing type 2 diabetes and can increase insulin sensitivity in those who already have the disease.
Obesity and Tinnitus
Researchers in Spain have discovered that melatonin helps control weight gain because it promotes the development of “beige fat”. This is a type of fat that, instead of storing calories, promotes the burning of calories. This is because the mitochondria of “beige fat”, as opposed to normal “white fat”, express levels of a certain protein that is responsible for burning calories and generating heat. Essentially, “beige fat” increases the metabolism and helps to continuously burn calories. (4)
This 2013 study revealed for the first time the enigma of why melatonin has metabolic benefits in treating obesity and diabetes. The study was conducted on obese, diabetic Zucker rats, which are a breed of experimental lab animals used for testing metabolic syndrome. Melatonin consumption not only induced “beige fat” in obese diabetic rats but also increased “beige fat” in thin animals used as a control group.
Obesity leads to coronary artery disease and high blood pressure. Both of these conditions contribute to tinnitus by reducing blood flow to the inner ear.
The study findings, along with the pharmacological safe profile of melatonin, indicate it is a useful tool in the treatment of obesity, high cholesterol and elevated blood pressure. The researchers final objective is “…to confirm these findings in humans by administering melatonin to help combat obesity and diabetes.
As has been shown above, melatonin has the capability of combating the increasing plague of diabetes and obesity in the country. It also induces better sleep patterns. By reducing obesity, blood pressure, insulin resistance and insomnia, melatonin positively influences tinnitus through several mechanisms and reduces tinnitus symptoms.
Supplementing with Arches Tinnitus Sleep Formula is a very effective way of increasing melatonin stores in the body. There are other ways that melatonin production in the body can be improved by adhering to the following guidelines:
1 – Avoid nighttime exposure to light. Melatonin production is inhibited by exposure to light, especially blue light, and promoted by darkness. Artificial light in the evening hours can delay melatonin production. Keep computers and televisions out of the bedroom. Make sure the bedroom is dark. Give yourself an hour or two before bedtime away from brightly lit digital screens. Televisions radiate blue light but the larger culprits are computers and smartphones.
2 – Soak up light early in the day. Taking in light, especially sunlight, in the daylight hours can strengthen circadian rhythms (sleep/wake cycles) and help avoid melatonin deficiency.
3 – Exercise regularly. Physical activity is another way to strengthen healthy circadian function and improve sleep. It’s also a critical factor in long-term weight control. Schedule exercise no later than 3 hours before bedtime so the exertion doesn’t interfere with sleep.
2 – Lavinsky L, Oliveira MW, Bassanesi HJ, D’Avila C. Lavinsky M. “Hyperinsulinemia and tinnitus: a historical cohort.” Int. Tinnitus J. 2004;10(1):24-30.
3 – McMullan CJ, Schernhammer ES, Rimm EB, Hu FB, Forman JP. “Melatonin Secretion and the Incidence of Type 2 Diabetes. “ JAMA. 2013;309(13):1388-1396.
4 – Jiminez-Aranda A, Fernandez-Vazquez G, Campos D, et al. “Melatonin induces browning of inguinal white adipose tissue in Zucker diabetic fatty rats.” Jounal of Pineal Research. Vol. 55, Issue 4. Pages 416-423, November 2013.