Tinnitus--a ringing or buzzing in the ears--is a symptom of hearing loss, ear damage or a circulatory problem. Indian Ayurvedic medicine views tinnitus as a disturbance of vata energy, which is located in the head and regulates the nervous system, including brain function and breath inhalation. As a vata disorder, tinnitus can be complicated by anxiety, insomnia and fear, so Ayurvedic treatments might also include herbs to balance vata and restore mental harmony. Consult an herbalist, Ayurvedic specialist or other health care professional before starting herbal treatment.
Sweet flag, or Acorus calamus, is a wetland plant with aromatic leaves native to India, where it is known as vacha. The active ingredient is an essential oil containing potent terpenoids. Traditionally, the plant is associated with vata energy and believed to strengthen the nervous system. It is used to improve memory and treat various mental disorders, such as epilepsy. As an Ayurvedic remedy for tinnitus, sweet flag root extract combined with sesame oil is applied nasally because the nose provides a direct path to the brain and central nervous system. In an article published in the Protocol Journal for Botanical Medicine, Alakananda Devi, director of Alandi Ayurvedic Clinic, recommends this treatment, known as vacha oil nasya, because it avoids gastrointestinal side effects that can occur if sweet flag is consumed orally. Scientific studies are needed to test and confirm the traditional use of sweet flag for tinnitus.
Sarasvati churna is an Ayurvedic formula for tinnitus that contains ashwagandha, or Withania somnifera; sweet flag, or Acorus calamus; butterfly pea, or Clitoria ternatea; caraway, or Trachyspermum ammi; cumin, or Cuminum cyminum; beleric, or Terminalia belerica; and heartleaf moonseed, or Tinospora cordifolia. Together, these herbs have a range of actions related to vata energy. Ashwagandha root has a long history of use as a respiratory stimulant, memory enhancer and nervous system tonic, according to M. Daniel in his 2006 book, “Medicinal Plants: Chemistry and Properties.” Butterfly pea improves memory and learning ability in test animals, according to a study by K. S. Rai, et al, published in the December 2002 issue of Fitoterapia. Caraway and cumin soothe the digestive system, beleric is a rejuvenating herb, and heartleaf moonseed aids memory, according to Daniel, and boosts the immune system, according to a study by S. S. Singh, et al, published in the 2003 issue of the Indian Journal of Pharmacology. Devi recommends sarasvati churna for tinnitus patients, except during pregnancy or if patients have ulcers or other bleeding disorders. Scientific studies are needed to test the formula and validate its traditional use for tinnitus.
Sesame, or Sesamum indicum, is an annual plant native to India, but is cultivated throughout the world for its seed oil. The oil contains proteins, mucilage, phenols and fatty acids, and has laxative and demulcent properties. Ayurvedic medicine views sesame seeds and oil as specifically useful for vata-related disorders. Holistic-online recommends eating the seeds to treat tinnitus or rubbing the warm oil behind the ear. Devi recommends the warm oil as a foot and scalp massage, and using it as the base oil for the sweet flag nasal treatment. She also says that sesame oil ear drops calm vata in the ears. Studies are needed to confirm these traditional uses of sesame for tinnitus.