If during the ‘60s and ‘70s, you spent your teenage years listening to the soundtrack of the era—The Who, The Rolling Stones, Led Zeppelin—with the volume cranked to the max on your quadraphonic stereo headphones, then no wonder your hearing has diminished over the years.
But for many people who have experienced hearing loss, the cause isn’t merely due to excessive rocking out. And for the 50 million Americans—roughly 15% of the American population—who experience tinnitus, a symptom (not a disease) characterized by a ringing in the ears that’s imperceptible to others, the cause of this auditory disturbance is vexing. (Hearing loss sometimes occurs in conjunction with tinnitus.)
So what does traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) say about hearing loss and ringing in the ears? Is hearing loss merely an age-associated condition? Can Chinese herbal medicines help?
Let’s find out….
Hearing Loss in TCM: Don’t Blame Your Ears
according to ancient TCM theory, there are few different root causes for both hearing loss and ringing in the ears
It makes sense that if your hearing is failing, it must be a problem in the ears. And from a Western medicine perspective, that’s certainly the area of focus. Most often, middle ear or inner ear dysfunctions are to blame, according to modern medicine.
However, according to ancient TCM theory, there are few different root causes for both hearing loss and ringing in the ears. Interestingly, none of these diagnoses, says TCM, are a direct problem with the ears themselves.
#1: Kidney Yin Deficiency
In Chinese medicine, the Kidney organ system is the power-generator of the body. It’s along this meridian (energy channel) superhighway that Yin and Yang are created, as well as Blood and Essence.
And just like a backup generator supplies electricity when you need it in an emergency, the Kidneys supply Qi to other organs when needed. The ears are the sensory organs associated with the Kidneys. Thus, if you have any hearing difficulty, it could be an indication that Kidney Qi is imbalanced. And most often, the problem associated with hearing loss or tinnitus is one of Kidney Yin deficiency.
What causes Kidney Yin deficiency?
There are several factors that cause your Kidney organ system to become deficient in Yin energy. The most common are your genetic makeup (your inherited essence, or Jing); excessive ejaculation (which depletes Jing); and chronic stress (overwork, poor diet, lack of sleep, etc.).
Eventually, especially after age 50, if you have Kidney Yin deficiency, your ears will not receive sufficient Qi and Blood to function optimally. Most often, tinnitus caused by Kidney Yin deficiency will present with other symptoms related to the Yin-Yang imbalance, such as dizziness and low-back pain.
What Can You Do If You Have Kidney Yin Deficiency?
If you have an occasional buzzing sound in your ears or hearing, try our formula YinVive Hearing™. Containing one of the most famous herbs for Kidney Yin deficiency—rehmannia root (Shu Di Huang)—along with 7 other Yin-nourishing herbs, given enough time, YinVive Hearing may help support hearing health.
On its own, YinVive Hearing is an effective Yin tonic. However, if you want an even more powerful natural solution for hearing loss, you can also take YinGreat, which also contains rehmannia root, along with four other herbs not in the YinVive Hearing formula. YinGreat is highly recommended if, in addition to hearing loss or tinnitus, you also have night sweats or hot flashes.
Yin is the body’s cooling energy. But if your emotions are running red hot (think: anger, irritability, impatience, etc.), your Liver organ system acts out, much as you are: aggravated. When Liver Qi becomes aggravated, the Qi ascends to the head and ears. In TCM theory, this can cause ringing in the ears. From a TCM perspective this makes sense, considering the energy channels of the Liver and its paired organ, the Gallbladder, run around the ears.
Strong, negative emotions may eventually cause energy blockages in the meridians located around the ears, thus causing ringing or other hearing disturbances. As opposed to Kidney Yin deficiency, which occurs gradually, with Liver Fire, the tinnitus typically occurs suddenly, accompanied with loud, high-pitched sounds. And the more irritable you become, the louder these disturbances may be.
What Can You Do If You Have Liver Fire?
For starters, avoid eating greasy, fatty foods. Learning how to meditate, or doing moving meditation practices such as Tai Chi or Qigong may also help clear Liver Fire. Our formula Liver FireClear may also help. In a study of 90,000 patients, Liver FireClear was the most common formula used to support liver health.
Extreme stress can severely deplete your body of Qi. And because Qi moves Blood, with Qi deficiency, Blood deficiency often presents as a cofactor. If you’ve experienced health setbacks caused by a major disease or illness, or you’re a type-A person completely overworked, your tinnitus may be caused by Blood deficiency.
In this case, the ringing (or other noises) you hear come and go. The volume isn’t consistent; sometimes it’s loud while other times it’s more quiet. In addition to tinnitus, you may also have trouble sleeping or feel anxious; your heart may also skip a beat. Physically, you appear pale and you feel burnt out.
What Can You Do If You Have Blood Deficiency?
Besides taking it easy, you can take SpleenVive, a Chinese medicine containing a dozen herbs that nourish the Blood, build depleted Qi back up, and calms the mind. But what does the Spleen have to do with Blood? The Spleen helps nourish Blood by absorbing nutrients from food and transporting these energy-building blocks to the Blood.
How Chinese Medicine Explains Hearing Loss And Tinnitus: Conclusion
Traditional Chinese medicines may support hearing, but only if the herbal formulas are applied properly. If you’re not sure which of these three patterns are responsible for your hearing problems, a licensed acupuncturist can provide you with a diagnosis.