A review of the book by Michael Seidman, MD, FACS
by Barry Keate
Noted Otolaryngologist, Michael Seidman, MD FACS, has written a fascinating, easy to understand book on methods of preserving and possibly restoring hearing health utilizing diet, exercise and nutrition. His book describes the health processes that lead to hearing loss and ways to prevent, and in some cases reverse, hearing loss. Approximately 70% of people with tinnitus experience hearing loss making this book of enormous importance to those of us who live with tinnitus.The book offers a unique perspective stemming from the fact that Dr. Seidman received his undergraduate degree in Human Nutrition before continuing on to medical school. He has always been keenly aware of the consequences of poor diet, sedentary lifestyles and nutritional inadequacy on people’s health. He is a highly regarded Ear, Nose & Throat physician, a leader in medical research on aging and age-related hearing loss and is the Director of Integrative Medicine for a premier US hospital system.
“Good Morning America” will interview Dr. Seidman about his book,
Tuesday July 18th, 2006.
This is a very practical book with a minimum of scientific jargon. Where medical terms are used, he describes them in layman’s terms so they are easily understood. Dr. Seidman starts off with the personal tolls and hidden costs of hearing loss and describes what life is like for people deprived of good hearing. He provides a comprehensive description on the mechanism of hearing; from the sound vibration in the air, to the conversion to electrical signals in the cochlea, and integration with the auditory cortex in the brain, which converts these signals to meaningful information.
Wax in the Ears?
Along the way, he gives many practical tips. One of these is a common question about ear wax and how to safely remove it. Improper removal of ear wax often results in many serious conditions such as ruptured eardrums, loss of hearing and tinnitus. Dr. Seidman advises to never, under any circumstance put anything smaller than your elbow in your ear.
Generally speaking, ears are self-cleaning. Wax is slowly swept to the outer ear where it can be wiped gently away with a washcloth. If deeper cleaning is necessary, Dr. Seidman recommends preparing a mixture of 50-50 hot tap water with room temperature hydrogen peroxide. It should end up close to body temperature. Use an eyedropper to fill one ear canal with this solution and tip your head to the opposite side for a minute or two. Then tip your head back and let the solution drain out. Repeat for the opposite ear canal. This can be done once a month if necessary and should keep wax from building up in the ear.
Some people may experience dizziness doing this. This is completely normal as anytime a fluid with a different temperature than the body contacts the eardrum, dizziness can occur. Be careful, sit down, and it should pass in a few minutes.
Hearing Loss and Aging
Dr. Seidman then goes into age-related hearing loss and the process that causes it. Personally, I found this discussion fascinating. He delves into what causes the human body to age. As the cells age, our bodies age and our hearing is reduced. His program to Save Your Hearing Now can also delay the aging process itself. There are several different theories about why we age but the one subscribed to by most researchers is called the free-radical, or mitochondrial, clock theory. Scientists have a good idea of how it works and what can be done to slow the process.
About 98% of the body’s energy is produced in the mitochondria, known as the powerhouse of the cells. There may be hundreds of mitochondria in each cell and they have their own DNA, completely separate from the DNA found in the rest of the cell. Over decades the mitochondrial DNA is damaged by free radicals and the cells steadily decline in their ability to produce energy. This leads to aging, disease and eventually death.
For a discussion on free-radicals and how they attack healthy cells, please see our previous article on Antioxidants, Health and Tinnitus.
Dr. Seidman embarked on a series of clinical experiments to first, prove that free-radical damage is responsible for hearing loss in older populations and second, develop a therapy to stop or reverse this damage. The first two experiments, indirectly on people with and without hearing loss and directly on laboratory rats, showed definitively that DNA damage to the mitochondria was responsible for age-related hearing loss.
The next step was to determine if this age-related hearing loss could be slowed or possibly even repaired using supplements of naturally occurring antioxidants. The first trial followed animals from several months old until the day they died. One group received a calorie restricted diet, shown to reduce free-radical production, reduce mitochondrial damage and to increase life span. A placebo controlled group was allowed to eat freely. Other groups were treated with antioxidants, including vitamins C and E, and the hormone melatonin. They were able to demonstrate that dietary moderation and specific nutrients reduce the progression of age-related hearing loss and they concluded that it is likely that a combination therapy would provide a synergistic protective effect on hearing loss and possibly on aging as well.
The next study produced even more dramatic results. Dr. Seidman states that, of all the research he has done, this study is the single most important one. The team used twenty one 2 year old lab rats, considered senior citizens in the rodent world and divided them into three groups of seven each. For six weeks one group was given Alpha Lipoic Acid (ALA), one group Acetyl-L-Carnitine (ALC) and one group a sugar pill.
When they tallied the results, it was clear that the hearing in the sugar pill group had deteriorated at a rate typical for animals of that age. But something amazing happened with both supplemented groups. The supplemented groups not only avoided hearing loss but their hearing actually improved. In other words, supplements didn’t just stop age-related hearing loss, they reversed it!
During the study, the control group lost 3 to 7 dB of hearing while the ones with ALA or ALC had a 7 to 10 dB improvement. The ALA was more effective for protecting hearing at low frequencies while the ALC did better at higher frequencies. They demonstrated that taking both supplements is the best way to protect against hearing damage in general. This groundbreaking work was so novel that Dr. Seidman was awarded a US patent for this supplement. ALA and ALC are the basis of Dr. Seidman’s Anti-Age/Energy Formula.
Noise exposure, Meniere’s Disease, Hearing Aids and more…
I have focused on areas of the book that I thought would be most interesting to our readers. However, there is much, much more in Dr. Seidman’s book. He discusses many of the causes of hearing loss, from noise exposure to drugs that are toxic to the ear. He discusses Meniere’s disease; what is known and what is not. He goes into various medical therapies for hearing loss including a full discussion of the types and choices of hearing aids. Cochlear implants are examined. Stress as an aggravating factor is studied.
Depression and its effects on people are covered. Dr. Seidman makes specific recommendations for nutritional supplements that work as well or better than prescription medications only without the numerous side-effects.
Dr. Seidman includes a chapter on tinnitus and the leading nutritional supplements for its management. He recommends primarily ginkgo biloba, zinc and garlic, the ingredients found in Arches Tinnitus Formulas. He also lists Arches as a recommended supplement supplier for people with tinnitus.
4- Part Plan to Save Your Hearing
He lays out in detail his four-part plan to save hearing. The four steps to Save Your Hearing Now are: 1 – Nutrients; 2 – Diet; 3 – Exercise; 4 – Ear Protection.
- Top Ten Nutrients:
Dr. Seidman introduces the Top Ten; an all-star team of nutrients that have been scientifically proven to play vitally important roles in hearing and in slowing the aging process.
He leads us to understand how proper diet allows us to get adequate nutrition. This is not a fad diet but based on carefully conducted nutritional studies published in professional journals. Most of it entails simple moderation and the incorporation of some key nutritional staples.
A sedentary lifestyle is on the verge of eclipsing smoking in terms of the number of deaths it causes. Exercise stimulates blood circulation throughout the body, helps with weight management and is a proven method of combating both stress and depression.
- Ear Protection:
There are new choices available in earplugs, earmuffs, sound canceling headphones and more on how to prevent noise from damaging our hearing.