A Complementary Approach to Managing Tinnitus: Understanding Western Biomedical and Chinese Medical Perspectives

(Organ names in Chinese medicine differ from Western medicine’s understanding).​

Tinnitus, the perception of ringing or buzzing in the ears without any external sound source, affects millions of people worldwide. Western biomedical understanding considers tinnitus a symptom rather than a disease. Its causes range from exposure to loud noises, age-related hearing loss, ear infections, and neurological disorders. Currently, there is no known cure for tinnitus, and management often involves medication, hearing aids, or cognitive-behavioural therapy.

In Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), tinnitus is seen as a manifestation of an imbalance in the body’s internal organs and energy pathways. It is typically associated with the liver, kidney, and spleen meridians, which govern blood and energy flow throughout the body. TCM theory says the liver meridian’s imbalance can cause tinnitus due to its close relationship with the ears. The kidneys are responsible for the body’s essence or vital energy, and deficiencies in this area can also lead to tinnitus. Similarly, spleen and meridian imbalances can result in phlegm accumulation in the ears, leading to tinnitus.

TCM management of tinnitus involves identifying the underlying imbalance and restoring balance to the body’s energy systems. This approach may include acupuncture, herbal medicine, and lifestyle adjustments, such as dietary changes and exercise. Acupuncture, in particular, has shown promising results in managing tinnitus symptoms by stimulating specific points on the body. This restores the flow of energy and blood to the affected area.

While Western biomedical and TCM perspectives may differ in their understanding of tinnitus, a complementary approach to management can be beneficial. Combining Western medication, cognitive-behavioural therapy, and Eastern techniques such as acupuncture and herbal medicine can help manage tinnitus symptoms and improve quality of life.

In conclusion, tinnitus can be challenging to manage. However, a holistic approach that combines both Western and Eastern techniques can help manage symptoms. If you are experiencing tinnitus symptoms, consider seeking advice of both Western and Eastern healthcare professionals to develop a personalized management plan.


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