Tinnitus is an extremely frustrating symptom where a constant ‘ringing’ or buzzing is heard in the ear intermittently or constantly, defined as a sensation of sound perceived by a person regardless of an external stimulus. Studies have shown that the prevalence may reach 32% of individuals, in 0.5% of individuals,symptoms are so severe that normal life is impossible.

Causes of tinnitus include (among others):

  • Otologic problems and hearing loss
  • Acoustic Shock (damage by loud noise)
  • Ear wax impaction
  • Heavy metal poisoning
  • Ototoxic medications such as aspririn, NSAIDS, certain antibiotics, chemo, interferon , methotrexate etc
  • Psychedelic drug use
  • Neurological disorders
  • Head injury, whiplash, temporomandibular joint disorder
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Metabolic disorders
  • Thyroid
  • B-12 deficiency

Western medicine offers little in the way of treatment for tinnitus, but acupuncture (especially scalp acupuncture) has shown positive results in treating tinnitus in some cases.

Acupuncture works to address the symptoms of tinnitus by providing electrical stimulation to the nerves to promote healing and resetting the ‘interference on the line’. Acupuncture also removes any obstructions that may be located in the meridians traveling through the ear and temporal region of the scalp.

Multiple studies show electroacupuncture treatments for tinnitus average a success rate of over 70%, with some patients experiencing complete recovery (about 30%) while others not showing marked improvement. The variability in success rate may be related to the many causes of tinnitus, some easier to treat with acupuncture than others.

[1] de Azevedo RF, Chiari BM, Okada DM, Onishi ET.Impact of acupuncture on otoacoustic emissions in patients with tinnitus. Rev Bras Otorrinolaringol (Engl Ed). 2007 Sep-Oct;73(5):599-607.

[2] Tan KQ, Zhang C, Liu MX, Qiu L. [Comparative study on therapeutic effects of acupuncture, Chinese herbs and Western medicine on nervous tinnitus] Zhongguo Zhen Jiu. 2007 Apr;27(4):249-51. Chinese.

[3] Li SL, Bai Y, Li H, Zhang YW. [Preliminary evaluation of acupuncture and continuous multi-point pulse stimulation for treatment of subjective tinnitus] Zhongguo Zhen Jiu. 2006 Dec;26(12):859-62. Chines

[4] Cummings M, Lundeberg T. Acupuncture for tinnitus. Complement Ther Med. 2006 Dec;14(4):290-1. Epub 2006 Oct 17.