Most people have heard ringing in their ears after a concert, working with power tools, or being around something loud. This ringing is known as tinnitus. For some though this ringing isn’t associated with any immediate cause and occurs intermittently and for long periods. An annoying and frustrating problem. This sort of tinnitus has many potential causes from blood pressure, to jaw misalignment, and surprisingly food. A change in diet can cure tinnitus or reduce the frequency and severity of symptoms.

In this excerpt from the book The Green Pharmacy Guide to Healing Foods by James A Duke and Bill Gottlieb, CHC the authors explain how diet can cure tinnitus.


A simple word that covers a range of conditions and encompasses a multitude of causes, some form of tinnitus affects more than 50 million Americans according to the American Tinnitus Association (ATA), with 10 million of those cases severe enough that sufferers seek medical assistance.

As described by my friend Dr. Alan Tillotson, tinnitus is a condition in which a person hears a sound—whether buzzing, hissing, whistling, roaring, chirping, or ringing— without anything actually making the noise. If you’ve ever walked out of a rock concert or sports event with a “ringing in your ears,” then you have had a (hopefully temporary) firsthand experience with tinnitus.

There are multiple possible causes for tinnitus, such as noise-induced hearing loss (from all those concerts), obstruction of the ear canal by wax, infections, inflammation, Ménière’s disease (a disorder of the inner ear), otosclerosis (the growth of bone in the inner ear), jaw misalignment, hypertension, arteriosclerosis, or certain medications. Aspirin, sedatives, and antibiotics can also cause tinnitus.

In some cases you can treat the cause—removing the wax, for example, or treating the infection—and the tinnitus will lessen or perhaps vanish. In the case of medications, the ATA provides a guide to medications and tinnitus at, search “Drug Therapies.” Loud noises, on the other hand, damage or destroy cilia, sensitive hairs inside the inner ear, and the resulting hearing loss is permanent—as is the tinnitus associated with it.

What can you do to prevent tinnitus, aside from wearing earplugs from dawn ’til dusk? Let’s scan the menu and see what stands out.

Healing Foods for Tinnitus

Cashews, pecans, almonds, and other nuts. In addition to being good sources of zinc —a cup of chopped pecans, whole almonds, or raw peanuts has nearly five milligrams, while a cup of roasted cashews has more than 7.5 milligrams—nuts and legumes also provide massive amounts of magnesium, which has a Daily Value of 420 milligrams. That same cup of cashews? Packed with a near day’s worth at 356 milligrams. The almonds feature 383 milligrams of magnesium while the peanuts have 245 milligrams and the pecans have 132 milligrams.

Why should you care about magnesium? Research has shown that taking additional magnesium could lower the amount of hearing loss caused by exposure to noise, which in turn could affect your chances of developing tinnitus.

Clams. A body doesn’t need much vitamin B12—only six micrograms according to the FDA—but that doesn’t mean that everyone gets enough, and a B12 deficiency is connected to chronic tinnitus and noise-induced hearing loss. A study published in the medical journal Noise & Health showed that 43 percent of tinnitus patients were deficient in vitamin B12—and when those deficient patients were treated with B12, the severity of their tinnitus improved significantly. Clams are bursting with B12, with three ounces containing 42 micrograms—that’s seven times the daily recommendation. Oysters, being mollusks as well, also have a healthy supply of B12, with nearly 14 micrograms in three ounces. Once again, plants do not manufacture B12, though if you are eating unwashed veggies right out of the garden, you’ll get some from the insects still residing there and their unwashed frass.

Oysters, red meat, seafood. A study published in the American Journal of Otolaryngology found that the severity and loudness of tinnitus was linked to zinc levels—the lower the levels of zinc, the worse the tinnitus, particularly in older people. Low zinc was also linked to hearing loss.

The Daily Value (DV) set by the FDA for zinc is 11 milligrams per day, and you can easily reach that total if your diet includes oysters (32 milligrams in a raw three-ounce serving).

While other meats aren’t quite the zinc powerhouses that oysters are, they can still boost you towards the Daily Value; hamburger, for example, contains four milligrams of zinc in a three-ounce serving, while 100 grams of steamed scallops or lobster contains three milligrams. Vegetarians can turn to baked beans as a cup boasts 3.5 milligrams of zinc, but we are talking about large amounts—a pound to get the DV. I think I’d rather take a properly prepared zinc supplement or fried oysters than a pound of beans or prunes or spinach.

Spinach, leafy veggies, and beans. Research by Japanese scientists discovered that low zinc levels are associated with tinnitus not caused by hearing loss. Vegetarians will have to work harder than seafood lovers to get the FDA’s assigned daily value of 11 milligrams.

For additional advice on proven natural remedies for common health conditions, purchase The Green Pharmacy from

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