The Enigma of Tinnitus
Updated: Jan 27
I have observed a startling rise in the number of cases of tinnitus presenting for treatment in recent years. This applies to young as much as older people. Even though, according to ancient texts, this condition is documented to have existed in early times, I certainly do not believe it was as prevalent then as it is nowadays. It seems it drove the sufferer equally desperate according to the recorded outlandish solutions which were documented to have been resorted to. The Roman scribe, Pliny the Elder, even suggested that earthworms boiled in goose grease be inserted in the ears. Carl Zimmer in his article in Discover Magazine, ‘The Brain: Ringing in the Ears Actually Goes Much Deeper than That’, goes so far as to state that research on tinnitus has shown that it is rooted in the very way we process and understand sound. It is quoted that tinnitus is a lot more complicated than just a ringing in the ears. It is more like a ringing across the brain. Nowadays, tinnitus, despite being so prevalent, persists in withstanding medical treatment - whether orthodox or alternative. Could this be because the ears are mistakenly targeted as the pivot of the distress rather than the brain, as revealed here? Winfried Schlee of the University of Constanz in Germany and his colleagues have been making some of the most detailed studies of tinnitus ever carried out. Through their use of magnetoencephalography (MEG), they have found widespread differences in the brains of tinnitus sufferers and those unaffected. What transpires is that the former show a more synchronised pattern of signals emanating from the front and the back of the brain. The conclusion is that tinnitus extends beyond the ear - to affect networks that span the brain. Distraction can serve to deflect the errant signals from the auditory cortex, the region where the messages get transmitted from the brain region affected. What may contribute to the serious rise in the number of current cases is the increase in decibels around one’s orbit - whether in a nightclub or a shopping mall. There is also a trend to wear headphones in order to amplify the selected sounds and drown out those in the background. An increase in devices emitting electromagnetic fields such as computers, microwaves and mobile phones have occurred exponentially as the incidence of tinnitus has increased. When approaching cases with homeopathy, and applying the relevant rubrics from the repertory for these symptoms, the case often resolves in other dimensions but hardly touches the tinnitus. This is even though its individual characteristics are included in the full analysis for prescribing on. This could indicate that exposure to these electronic devices could be a maintaining cause for this condition. Tinnitus is mentioned under ‘whistling tinnitus’ in different materia medica. It is therefore troubling, not only for the sufferer, but also the prescriber, whether it be targeted through homeopathic or treatment of another discipline. When looking at the properties of Manganum Aceticum, the remedy derived from manganese, it is a good ‘lack of reaction’ remedy. Expressing symptoms, often from other parts, is greatly characterised in its remedy picture by its action through the ears. Everything affects them, even though they may not be the direct pivot of the distress which is being referred from other parts, e.g. the brain. When it comes to Zincum Metallicum, another trace element from the periodic table of remedies, there is a picture of continuous tinnitus. This could be due to a type of brain fog due to nervous exhaustion. There may be some concussion in the background from a head injury. Both Manganum Aceticum and Zincum Metallicum present weak and worn out remedy pictures with a possible background of anaemia. It is likely that, if the patient is anaemic, this condition pre-dated the tinnitus through some other causation, but predisposes the patient to this outcome. It would be a long stretch to assume from this that exposure to electronic devices alone triggers the underlying anaemia. Gingko Biloba is a remedy to oxygenate the brain which, in potency, could form a prescription containing the other two suggested remedies to support a tinnitus case. After all, it could be that tinnitus is a disease of depletion and may possibly be targeted alongside constitutional treatment as a layered prescription. Once tinnitus is regarded as a condition affecting the brain (rather than the ears in isolation), the approach to treatment can be revised accordingly and sufferers discouraged from exposing themselves to noise and appliances that exacerbates their suffering. References
: Carl Zimmer, Discover Magazine, ‘The Brain: “Ringing in the Ears” actually goes much deeper than that, 27 October 2010 www.instituteforhearingperformance.com/tinnitus-as-a-problem-of-the-brain, June 12th, 2017.