Taurine for Tinnitus and Hearing Loss

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 an Ask Barry reader sent me the question, “Does taurine help tinnitus?” Other than a few references in a previous article on Brain Calming Supplements for Tinnitus, I had not investigated or written about taurine. So, I was quite surprised to find that taurine supplementation can have a significant positive effect on tinnitus, hearing loss, and other major health concerns.

Salmon filet, glass of milk, hard boiled egg and beef steak on cutting board.Taurine is one of the most essential substances in the body. It is found naturally in meat, dairy, and seafood­­­. It can prevent diabetes and obesity, strengthen heart muscle, protect retinal and inner ear hair cells from damage, and help to prevent epileptic seizures and liver disease. Much of the information for this article comes from the June, 2013 article “Benefits of Taurine” in the Life Extension Foundation magazine.

Taurine Helps Reverse Tinnitus and Hearing Loss

Taurine plays a vital role in hearing and, in some cases, taurine can reverse the biochemical processes behind hearing loss. Animal studies have shown that taurine can almost completely eliminate the ringing in the ears associated with tinnitus. (1)

Most damage to hearing occurs in the nerve cells of the cochlea that convert sound waves into electrical energy that is perceived in our brains. These hair cells depend on the flow of calcium ions into and out of the cell. Taurine helps restore and control normal calcium ion flow in auditory hair cells.

Taurine improves the hearing ability in animals exposed to drugs like the antibiotic gentamicin, which is notoriously toxic to hearing. (2) Also, an animal study using equivalent doses of 700 mg to 3.2 grams daily over the course of several weeks demonstrate near-complete resolution of tinnitus with taurine supplementation. And a human pilot study has shown encouraging results with 12% of people suffering from tinnitus responding to taurine supplementation. (3)

Taurine is one of the most abundant and essential amino acids in the body. The human body can make taurine from the amino acid cysteine and obtain it through diet and supplementation. It is found in seafood, meat and dairy products. Vegetarian or vegan diets lack adequate amounts of taurine. Certain disease states, such as liver, kidney and heart failure, diabetes and cancer, can cause a deficiency in taurine. Aging people often cannot produce an optimal amount of taurine, making supplementation vital for that group.

One clinical study showed the mean daily intake from omnivore diets is around 58 mg and generally less than 200 mg per day, even in individuals eating a high-meat diet. (10) Successful clinical studies with taurine have used daily doses of 1,500 to 3,000 mg.

Strong evidence suggests that groups with the longest life spans consume higher amounts of taurine than those of us in the rest of the world.

Taurine Prevents Obesity

Obesity impacts every area of the body, especially due to the inflammation-generating abdominal fat stores. Alarmingly, animal research shows that obesity itself causes a decline in taurine levels which, in a vicious cycle, further promotes obesity.

Human studies show 3 grams of taurine per day for 7 weeks reduced body weight significantly in a group of overweight or obese (but not yet diabetic) adults. Subjects showed significant declines in their serum triglycerides and “atherogenic index,” a ratio of multiple cholesterol components that predicts atherosclerosis risk. (4)

Taurine Treats Diabetes

It is a known fact that taurine concentrations are lower among diabetics. Fortunately, human studies have shown that supplementing with just 1.5 grams of taurine a day can restore taurine levels to those in healthy control subjects. Additional research has shown that taurine supplementation can help prevent the onset of type II diabetes. (5)

In adult diabetics, supplementation with 1.5 grams of taurine a day for just 14 days can reverse diabetes-induced abnormalities in arterial stiffness and in the ability of the vasculature to respond to changes in blood flow or pressure. (6)

Studies in diabetic rats show taurine helps protect heart function and prevents muscle damage, due in part to the ability of taurine to increase glucose transport from blood into energy-hungry heart muscle cells. In the process of increasing glucose transport into energy producing cells, blood glucose levels are lowered. (7)

Taurine Provides Retinal Protection

Taurine promotes eye health. Adequate levels can help prevent age-related vision loss, which normally occurs due to oxidative stress on light-sensing cells in the retina. Such damage leads to age-related macular degeneration and other forms of retinal disease. (8)

Certain drugs deplete the body of taurine, which can induce retinal damage. These include commonly used chemotherapy drugs as well as the anti-epileptic drug vigabatrin. Radiation therapy has also been shown to deplete the body of taurine. Supplementation with taurine can restore levels to normal and protect the retina.

Taurine Reduces Epileptic Seizures

While there are many causes and types of epileptic seizures, a disruption in the function of excitable brain tissue underlines all of them. One of taurine’s major roles is the regulation of such excitable tissues.

Animal studies reveal that taurine depletion makes seizures more likely while taurine supplementation is capable of preventing seizures. It appears to work by increasing the levels of glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD), the enzyme responsible for the production of the neurotransmitter GABA, calming brain cells and reducing their likelihood of participating in the random, uncoordinated electrical firing that produces an epileptic seizure. (9)

Additional benefits of taurine include: enhancing exercise performance; preventing and treating liver disease, especially fatty liver disease, which can lead to cirrhosis and liver failure; and promoting a long and healthy life-span.

Arches Tinnitus Formula is the most effective way to reduce tinnitus for most people. Taking taurine can be one more nutritional tool to help combat hearing loss and tinnitus in those who suffer from this aggravating and frustrating condition.

References:

1 – Brozoski TJ, Caspary DM, Bauer CA, Richardson BD. The effect of supplemental dietary taurine on tinnitus and auditory discrimination in an animal model. Hear Res. 2010 Dec 1;270(1-2):71-80.

2 – Liu HY, Chi FL, Gao WY. Taurine attenuates aminoglycoside ototoxicity by inhibiting inducible nitric oxide synthase expression in the cochlea. Neuroreport. 2008 Jan 8;19(1):117-20.

3 – Davies E, Donaldson I. Tinnitus, membrane stabilizers and taurine. Practitioner. 1988 Oct 22;232(1456 (Pt 2)):1139.

4 – Zhang M, Bi LF, Fang JH, et al. Beneficial effects of taurine on serum lipids in overweight or obese non-diabetic subjects. Amino Acids. 2004 Jun;26(3):26771., et al.ee

5 – Franconi F, Loizzo A, et al. Taurine supplementation and diabetes millitus. Curr Opin Clin Nutr Metab Care. 2006 Jan;9(1):32-6.

6 – Molony MA, Casey RG, et al. Two weeks taurine supplementation reverses endothelial dysfunction in young male type 1 diabetics. Diab Vasc Dis Res. 2010 Oct;7(4):300-10.

7 – Das J, Vasan V, Sil PC. Taurine exerts hypoglycemic effect in alloxan-induced diabetic rats, improves insulin-mediated glucose transport signaling pathway in heart and ameliorates cardiac oxidative stress and apoptosis. Toxicol Appl Pharmacol. 2012 Jan 15;258(2):296-308.

8 – Drobek-Slowik M, Karczewics D, Safranow K. The potential role of oxidative stress in the pathogenesis of age-related macular degeneration. (AMD).Postepy Hig Med Dosw (Online). 2007;61:28-37.

9 – El Idrissi A, L’Amoreaux WJ, Selective resistance of taurine-fed mice to isoniazide-potentiated seizures: in vivo functional test for the activity of glutamic acid decarboxylase. Neuroscience. 2008 Oct 15;56(3):696-9.

10 – Laidlaw SA, Grosvenor M, Kopple JD. The taurine content of common foodstuffs. JPEN Parenter Enterol Nutr. 1990 Mar-Apr;14(2):183-8.