Low-level Laser Therapy Effective for Tinnitus
Source: Journal of Personalized Medicine (March 2023)
Lifestyle Medicine Update (July 25, 2023)
The condition known as tinnitus (ringing in the ears) affects 14% of the adult population, with 20% of these individuals experiencing considerable distress from its severity. This translates into approximately 750 million people world-wide, who suffer from tinnitus. There are two main problems in addressing tinnitus. The first is that we are not exactly sure what causes the condition in each case, and there are no known drugs or therapies that have been highly successfully in treating this condition.
Commonly prescribed drugs for tinnitus include sedatives, anticonvulsants, antidepressants, local anesthetics, antihistamines, antipsychotics, and botulinum toxin A, all providing mixed or inconsistent benefits. So, for people who suffer from tinnitus, it can be extremely problematic and can it compromise their quality of life to a significant degree.
However, there is some very good news for tinnitus sufferers, as reported in the study published in the Journal of Personalized Medicine in March of 2023. Building on the results of previous studies researchers affiliated with the Optics and Photonics Research Center (CEPOF) in Brazil conducted a study comparing the effectiveness of ten popular tinnitus treatments and found that low-level laser therapy was highly effective in reducing the severity of this condition compared to nine other common tinnitus therapies.The study involved 100 men and women tinnitus sufferers, aged 18-65. Patients received one of ten various treatments, twice per week, over the 4-week study period. The results showed convincingly that the best treatment to reduce the symptoms and severity of tinnitus was low-level laser therapy applied to specific acupuncture points on the ear as well direct laser therapy that penetrated through the ear drum or tympanic membrane itself. The patients were clinically assessed before treatment began, after the eighth session and two weeks later, using a “tinnitus handicap inventory questionnaire” with a total of 25 questions. A subset of the questions (11 in total) also assessed mental, social, occupational, and physical limitations due to tinnitus.
The best outcomes were observed in patients treated with laser acupuncture alone and low-power laser that penetrated the ear drum to reach the inner ear apparatus. Combinations of laser therapy with vacuum therapy or Ginkgo biloba supplementation, laser acupuncture alone, and a calcium blocker drug that improves blood flow (flunarizine dihydrochloride) alone also had some lasting therapeutic effects. The researchers stated that regarding low-level laser therapy, “The positive effects include anti-inflammatory action and relaxation. We believe laser therapy can increase peripheral irrigation, which may be the main cause of the problem in many cases, as well as stimulating inner ear cell proliferation and collagen production”. Other positive effects of low-level laser therapy for tinnitus have been attributed to its ability to increase cell proliferation, ATP energy production, secretion of growth factors, improving inner ear blood flow and activating the hair cell mitochondria that stimulates repair mechanisms. Any combination of these positive physiological effects is bound to improve tinnitus symptoms, Meniere’s disease symptoms and may help some people regain some age-related hearing loss, naturally. So, if you or someone you know suffers from tinnitus or Meniere’s disease, you may want to ask your doctor for a referral to a practitioner who has experience using low-level laser therapy to treat this troubling and stubborn condition.
I have included the references for this information in the text below.
Panocha V.H. et al. Effects of red and infrared laser in patients with tinnitus: A double-blind, clinical, randomized controlled study combining light with ultrasound, drugs, and vacuum therapy. J Personalized Medicine. 2023;13(4) https://www.mdpi.com/2075-4426/13/4/581
Low-level laser therapy effective for tinnitus treatment. NeuroscienceNews.com June 21, 2023 https://neurosciencenews.com/tinnitus-laser-therapy-23509/
Okhovat A et al. Low-level laser for treatment of tinnitus: a self-controlled clinical trial. J Res Med Sci. 2011;16(1): 33-38 https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3063436/
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Dr. James Meschino, DC, MS, ROHP, is an educator, author, and researcher having lectured to thousands of healthcare professionals across North America. He holds a Master’s Degree in Science with specialties in human nutrition and biology and is recognized as an expert in the field of nutrition, anti-aging, fitness, and wellness as well as the author of numerous books.