CBD and Tinnitus: What’s The Connection?
Tinnitus can drive patients crazy, but could CBD help to reduce the noise? CBD has gained an almost cult-like following thanks to its impressive range of potential health benefits—but can it help to dull the noise of tinnitus?
Symptoms of tinnitus
Tinnitus is a condition where patients hear a noise, typically a ringing, in the ears. This noise doesn’t come from an external source, only the person with tinnitus can hear it. Tinnitus can also manifest as a buzzing, hissing, clicking, humming or roaring noise.
Tinnitus can occur in just one ear or both and it can also come and go.
While hearing a noise might not sound like a debilitating condition, the symptoms of tinnitus can be quite severe. For patients with severe tinnitus the noise can be overwhelmingly loud, which can be extremely distressing and make it hard to focus or carry out everyday activities.
Tinnitus is a relatively common condition, with around 15% to 20% of people experiencing it (1).
As well as a hearing a noise, patients with tinnitus may also experience:
- Trouble sleeping
- Depression and anxiety
- Mood changes
- Concentration and memory issues
Pulsatile tinnitus is a rare type of tinnitus that manifests as a pulsating whooshing sound that often matches the rhythm of your heartbeat. In cases of pulsatile tinnitus, the noise can at times be heard by your doctor on examination.
What causes tinnitus?
Tinnitus might develop for a number of reasons, which include:
- Ear infection: If your ear canal becomes blocked by an infection or other material (e.g. wax, foreign material), it can result in pressure changes within your ear that could cause tinnitus to develop.
- Age/exposure to loud noises: Hearing loss caused by age or exposure to loud noises can damage the delicate hairs in your ear that help you process sound waves properly. In some cases this damage can result in tinnitus.
- Injury to the head or neck: Injury to the head or neck can damage the nerves crucial to hearing.
- Meniere’s disease: This is a condition that can cause changes to ear pressure.
- Muscle spasms: Muscle spasms in the inner ear can lead to hearing loss and tinnitus.
- Stiffened middle ear bones
- Tobacco and alcohol consumption: Smoking and drinking can increase your risk of developing tinnitus.
- High blood pressure
- Arthritis: Arthritis can increase your chances of developing tinnitus.
- Certain medications: Some medications can contribute to the development of tinnitus and/or worsen the condition. These include certain antibiotics, nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), diuretics, antidepressants, cancer medications, and antimalarials.
Typical treatments for tinnitus
Treatment for tinnitus will vary depending on the underlying cause for the condition. This may include removing earwax, treating a tumor, or changing your medication. Unfortunately, tinnitus cannot always be cured. But treatment options are still available to help manage symptoms in these cases, such as:
- White noise machines: These help to drown out the distracting sound of tinnitus, allowing patients to relax and sleep better.
- In-ear devices: Worn in the ear much like a hearing aid, these devices make a low white noise within your ear to help mask the noise of tinnitus.
- Counseling: Speaking with a therapist can help you deal with your feelings about your symptoms
- Medication: Some medications can be used to help manage symptoms like anxiety, depression, or sleeplessness
CBD, or cannabidiol, is a chemical compound that’s naturally produced by hemp and cannabis plants. Belonging to a group of compounds called cannabinoids, cannabidiol burst on to the health scene in recent years thanks to its impressive range of therapeutic benefits.
Research tells us that CBD may be able to help:
- Improve sleep (2)
- Reduce pain (3)
- Reduce anxiety (4)
- Improve skin conditions (5)
- Reduce inflammation (6)
- Reduce seizure frequency and severity (7)
Can CBD improve the symptoms of tinnitus?
CBD does show some promise as a potential treatment for tinnitus, although the research is mixed and more studies are needed to fully understand its effects on the condition.
A 2020 review published in Frontiers in Neurology found that cannabinoids play an important role in a healthy auditory system and in protecting the ears from auditory damage. CBD, in particular, was also found to offer potential neuroprotective and anti-inflammatory properties that could help prevent damage to the auditory system (8).
However, another 2020 review published in Laryngoscope Investigative Otolaryngology found that while cannabinoid receptors do likely play a key role in auditory signaling, no compelling data was provided to back up cannabinoids as a treatment for tinnitus (9).
While more research is needed into CBD before we can determine its effectiveness as a treatment for tinnitus, we do know that more robust research has demonstrated CBD’s ability to improve the secondary symptoms of tinnitus such as:
Different ways to consume CBD
One benefit of CBD is that it can be consumed in a variety of ways, making it easy to fit into your routine. CBD products on the market today include:
CBD side effects
It’s important to note that some side effects can occur with CBD use, although these tend to be mild. Common side effects of CBD use include (13):
- Reduced appetite
The bottom line
Early-stage research does indicate that CBD may be able to alleviate the symptoms of tinnitus, although more research, particularly human trials, is needed before conclusions can be drawn.
**Standard Disclaimer: CBD is not FDA-approved. We make no such claims that using our products will guarantee relief. Moreover, research regarding CBD is still ongoing and in the early stages.**