By Deborah Mitchell
Anyone who suffers from ringing in the ears, also known as tinnitus, may get some relief from Pycnogenol. A team of investigators in Italy report that the French maritime bark supplement can lead to improvement in this and other hearing related problems.
Ringing in the ears
If you experience ringing in the ears, you are among the 20 percent of the population that is affected by this symptom at one time or another. In recent years, a group that has experienced a significant increase in tinnitus is war veterans, especially those who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan.
In the vast majority of cases, tinnitus is associated with an injury to the ear, age-related hearing loss, poor circulation (vascular disorders), medication (scores of drugs can cause tinnitus), or physical conditions such as a tumor or otosclerosis. This is good news, since it means the problem often can be treated effectively or at least made less noticeable.
Ringing in the ears study
In this six-month study, the 120 participants had symptoms that included ringing in the ears, vertigo, hearing loss, pressure in the ear, unsteady gait, and various associated clinical issues that affected their daily lives. Fifty-five individuals were assigned to take 150 mg per day of Pycnogenol and 52 were managed only with traditional management. Here’s what the authors found:
- At 3 and 6 months, individuals who were taking Pycnogenol had more significant improvement than did those in the control group
- At 3 months, 45.4 percent of people in the Pycnogenol group had no symptoms compared with 23.07 percent in the control group
- At 6 months, the comparative improvement was 87.3 percent and 34.6 percent, respectively
- Cochlear blood flow velocity was significantly better among Pycnogenol users than among controls
- Although ringing in the ears improved in both patient groups, it was significantly better in the Pycnogenol group at both 3 and 6 months
Previous research has shown that Pycnogenol can provide a variety of health benefits, including an improvement in blood circulation and heart conditions. The advantages reported in this latest study point to this same factor.
Other treatments for ringing in the ears
Generally, the best way to treat ringing in the ears is to identify the underlying cause and attempt to correct it. If the culprit is a buildup of ear wax or the use of prescription drugs, then the remedy may be easy. Often it is necessary to have your ears checked by an audiologist, who will conduct a thorough audiologic evaluation to determine the cause.
The treatment option you choose will depend on what the doctor finds. A tumor may require surgery while otosclerosis (abnormal bone growth in the middle ear) may be treated with medications, surgery, or a hearing aid. Age-related tinnitus often can be reduce or relieved with a hearing aid.
Other management options may include hypnosis, biofeedback, electrical stimulation, relaxation therapy, or tinnitus maskers. These latter devices include hearing aid-like objects that help mask the ringing sound. You also may use sound machines, low music, fans, or apps for iPods that can help mask the sound.
Tinnitus is a common problem, but there are treatment and management choices. Pycnogenol is among the latest possible treatment options for ringing in the ears.
Luzzi R et al. Improvement in symptoms and cochlear flow with Pycnogenol in patients with Meniere’s disease and tinnitus. Minerva Medica 2014 Jun; 105(2):245-54