Tinnitus sufferers have experimented with many vitamin combinations trying to squelch the persistent ringing or buzzing in their ears, but it turns out that one of the things they’ve tried actually may have some positive effect. The mineral magnesium—commonly found in leafy green vegetables such as spinach—has come under scrutiny as a possible treatment for chronic tinnitus. Doctors who study such things say that magnesium helps protect hearing, and people who take it every day may experience a reduction in tinnitus symptoms.
Researchers at the Mayo Clinic in Arizona are conducting clinical trials to determine just how effective magnesium may be for tinnitus patients. In the trials, half the patients will take magnesium every day, and the other half will receive a placebo. Researchers have zeroed in on magnesium because of earlier studies that showed that low levels of magnesium in the body may be linked to a higher risk of hearing loss caused by noise exposure.
Tinnitus usually goes along with hearing loss, and some scientists think the two are caused by the same trigger in any given patient. Both can be caused by a number of factors, including noise exposure, ototoxic medications, infections, and other causes.
There is no cure for tinnitus, which can affect only one ear, or may occur in both ears in the same patient. It’s tied to damage to the hair cells in the inner ear, which are the “sound receptors” that convert vibration into electrical signals that the brain interprets as sound. Damage to these hair cells causes them to produce continuous electrical signals, which the brain “hears” as continuous sound.
That’s where magnesium comes in. Magnesium is important in maintaining the normal functioning of nerves. Researchers involved in the Mayo Clinic trials believe that a lack of magnesium in the hair cells may be part of what causes them to send “nonsense” signals to the brain. This may be for one or more of several reasons.
One way magnesium works in the body is to prevent too much calcium from being released into the bloodstream. Calcium causes the narrowing of small veins and arteries, which can result in reduced blood flow to the hair cells in the inner ear. This, in turn, means that the hair cells don’t get enough oxygen and nutrients.
Another possible track for investigation is that magnesium blocks glutamate in the brain. Since one of the functions of glutamate is to regulate the signals between nerve cells, a lack of glutamate may mean “runaway” signals along nerve pathways that result in tinnitus. Too much magnesium can cause damage to nerve cells. Research has suggested that noise exposure may cause the production of too much glutamate in the body.
In other studies taking place in the United States, Sweden and Spain, researchers are looking at the effects of the antioxidants beta-carotene and vitamins C and E on hearing loss and tinnitus. It may turn out that what some tinnitus sufferers have guessed at all along is true: certain vitamins and minerals do help reduce the level of head noise. After years of anecdotal information, researchers finally are getting down to brass tacks on the effects of certain minerals on the tinnitus that affects 10 percent of our population.
Nature Made High Potency Magnesium 400 mg – 150 Liquid Softgels is a popular magnesium capsule available on Amazon.
For more information on tinnitus see Cause Of Ringing In The Ears