Peace and quiet, thanks to... snuggling?
Q: I can't seem to get rid of this ringing in my ears, and it's driving me crazy. What can I do?
GR: Well, it's that time of year again. We've made the leap from harvest-themed cornucopias straight to snowmen and sleigh rides.
But while some are beckoning for the Christmas bells to keep ringing, others are just hoping for some peace and quiet.
Maybe that's because they're ALWAYS listening to the sound of ringing -- a ringing that's coming from inside their own ears, courtesy of a condition known as tinnitus.
If you're one of the 50 million Americans suffering from it, you know that there's no "mute" button. You may be able to hit "pause" on the jingle jangle of the season's festive tunes, but you can't seem to silence the sounds that follow you everywhere.
And it's not just ringing: You could also hear whistling, buzzing, clicking, hissing, or even a musical sound that no one else can hear.
Make no mistake -- it can be absolutely disabling.
The good news is that as much as the sound is coming from inside your own body, that's also where the cure can be found -- because research shows that the volume can be lowered or even shut off altogether by a hormone that your body already produces.
Brazilian researchers have found that spraying oxytocin -- the so-called "love hormone" -- up the nose can provide immediate relief to tinnitus sufferers. A few squirts of it actually stopped the ringing altogether for some patients. For others, the dose brought the noise to a less distressing level.
While the researchers don't know exactly why it worked, we do know that oxytocin can promote good feelings and is often released when cuddling with someone or even playing with a pet. So, the theory is that the dopamine that pairs up with oxytocin to bring on those good vibes also calms the inner ear fluid, bringing quiet to an otherwise noisy ear canal.
Oxytocin nasal spray is available online -- but, as with any natural cure or supplement, only a doc can tell you if it's safe for your particular situation.
I've found a few other treatments to work on my patients with tinnitus, including:
- Pine bark extract has brought substantial relief to those suffering mild to moderate tinnitus. Try 100 to 150 mg daily for four weeks.
- Ginkgo biloba has been known to reduce symptoms of tinnitus. Try pairing it with low doses of zinc and vitamin B12, a combination that can help it work even better.
- Acupuncture. This tried-and-true ancient remedy has seen success with everything from easing pain and inflammation to smoking cessation -- so it's no surprise to me that it's also been known to help tinnitus.
In the meantime, there's no better time than December to cuddle up by the fire with your favorite loved one and get that oxytocin pumping through your body in the most natural -- and pleasurable -- way possible!