Beware of Over the Counter “Cures” for Tinnitus

What they don’t tell you CAN hurt you

You probably heard already that there is no “cure” for tinnitus but this doesn’t mean it can’t be treated.  If we discover the cause we can usually treat it quickly, such as tinnitus due to impacted earwax.  But what if we can’t find a cause or treat the condition that is causing it?  Can over the counter products help?

There are many over the counter products with catchy names that claim to provide relief or a cure such as Tinnitus 911, Ring Relief, Ring Stop, Tinnifree, etc.  There is insufficient evidence to prove that ANY over the counter products today help with tinnitus and in some cases they may actually be harmful.  These products include herbal supplements, vitamins and homeopathic remedies that may be sold as pills, powders, liquids, sprays and teas.

So why are these products allowed to be sold?  Because they are classified as dietary supplements, so they are considered “food” and not a drug.  Therefore, they do not have to declare efficacy.  Manufacturers avoid liability by adding a disclaimer stating that it has not been evaluated by the FDA or Health Canada and that it is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure or prevent any disease.

My blog photo was taken in the Springtime in my neighbourhood when I was on one of my morning walks.  I came across a newly planted tree with a tag on it that identified it as a ginko biloba tree.  I thought their leaves were quite pretty.  You probably saw ginko biloba advertised as an herbal remedy for tinnitus.  It is known to be a powerful antioxidant that may improve blood flow.  The cochlea is the most sensitive organ in the body to changes in blood flow.  Reduced blood supply to the labyrinthine artery due to vascular problems can lead to outer hair cell death in the cochlea and may lead to subjective tinnitus.  While there are some studies that claim that it can help there are also others claim that it is an ineffective herbal remedy.  Peer reviewed studies are essential to validate these claims.  

Perceived benefits from these products are likely due to the placebo effect or other variables that may have helped, such as stress reduction, diet, exercise, better sleep, etc.   I’m always open to alternative treatments such as acupuncture, even if there is no evidence to support it, but when it is s something that has to be ingested, I advise against it.  If you are taking medications, it is especially important to speak to your physician or health care provider about any supplements before you try them.  They will be able to determine if there are possible interaction effects with the medications you are taking and advise you as to the risk of other side effects.

Tinnitus is just a small part of our lives but it is of great interest to researchers today as the number of cases rise due to the COVID pandemic.  I am well informed of any advances in the field.  If you see or hear anything and are not sure if it is valid don’t hesitate to email me at   Stay health, safe and have a great week!

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