Tinnitus relief at the bottom of your morning cup

So there you are, about to drift off to sleep, and just when things get quiet…you hear a ringing sound. But it’s not the phone. And it just keeps on going.

Of course, I’m talking about tinnitus. If you’re not familiar with it, this condition is characterized by a chronic, persistent ringing or buzzing sound in the ears. It certainly isn’t life-threatening, or even medically serious, but it is indeed annoying. And if it gets persistent enough, it can reduce your quality of life big-time.

Luckily, a solution to the problem might be brewing (literally). According to a new study, caffeine intake may be associated with lower incidence of tinnitus in women.

More than 65,000 women aged 30 to 44 without tinnitus were recruited in 1991 when the study began. The participants were asked to complete lifestyle and medical history questionnaires every two years and food frequency questionnaires every four years.

After 18 years of follow-up, 5,289 of the women had developed tinnitus. But the researchers found that among women who consumed approximately five 8-ounce cups of coffee per day, incidence of reported tinnitus was 15% lower compared to women with a low caffeine intake (1.5 cups per day). And it should be noted that this caffeine was from coffee and not chocolate or tea.

The researchers didn’t know for sure why this reduction in risk occurred. But they postulated that it could be because caffeine stimulates the central nervous system. Also, previous research has demonstrated that caffeine has a direct effect on the inner ear.

I’ve written before about other health benefits associated with coffee, so you know I’m not one of those doctors who have a prejudice against it. But I have to say, five cups per day seems a bit over-the-top.

I’m not sure I could ever advocate drinking that much coffee on a daily basis. Especially given what it can do to your adrenal glands (as in, shutting them down). (Plus, I know if I had that much coffee every day, I’d be up all night organizing my sock drawer by color.)

But what I can advocate—and have seen work in the past—is good old gingko biloba, taurine and french maritime pine bark.  In fact, a new study on french maritime pine bark’s benefits for tinnitus was just published. I’ll tell you more about it in the October issue of my Logical Health Alternatives newsletter. (So if you’re not already a subscriber, you might want to consider signing up now, to make sure you don’t miss this important info.)

Also, natural ingredients (or a combination formula of ingredients) that help boost your microcirculation could also be extremely helpful. Some of my go-to recommendations for improving microcirculation include magnesium, quercitin, panax ginseng, turmeric, and citrus bioflavonoids like hesperidin and diosmin.

Want some twigs in your coffee? Didn’t think so

We just talked about coffee as a possible way to alleviate the maddening ear ringing of tinnitus. But before you start caffeinating, take note: not all java is created equal.

Due to shortages caused by global warming, or corporate greed (or both), some coffee contains filler including corn, barley, wheat, soybeans, acai seed, brown sugar, rice, even starch syrup.

This isn’t stuff you want to be eating much of (or any, for that matter). Nor do you expect it to be in your coffee in the first place (unless your barista specifically asks you if you’d like corn in your cappuccino). Frighteningly, some unscrupulous producers are going even farther and have put in fillers like wood, twigs, sticks, husks, parchment—even clumps of dirt.

How can you avoid dirt-laced coffee? One solid solution is to buy local and/or fair-trade. Neighborhood roasters, whole beans at trusted organic and health-food stores, and fair-trade coffee chains (both local and national) that truly know and give information on the origins of their whole beans—and grind them in-store—are often safer bets than shady “vac pacs” in big chain grocery stores.

The more transparent a coffee producer is about where and how it gets its precious beans, the better your chances are of getting a quality product. The key is to get as close to the source as possible.

Another potential boon for coffee safety: Researchers in Brazil have developed a test that will be able to tell with 95 percent accuracy if there are impurities in your coffee. But it hasn’t come into wide enough use to really make an impact yet. Nor do I hold out much hope that it’ll be approved with any urgency, or taken seriously, on our shores. So, again, I repeat: Know thy roaster.

Like I always say, knowledge is power.

Until next time—happy sipping,