Supplementary or complementary therapies are therapies which were not developed specifically for managing tinnitus but which claim to contribute to reducing tinnitus annoyance.
Hypnotherapy is the use of hypnosis for self-improvement and/or the release of problems. All hypnotherapy employs hypnosis; but not all hypnosis is hypnotherapy.
Hypnosis is a trance state, or deep state of relaxation, in which your attention is narrowly focused and relatively free of distractions. Your attention may be focused either inwards (on self-talk, daydreaming, meditation, etc) or outwards (on a task, reading, practising an art or craft, intently listening to a speaker, etc). Because of this narrow focus, other internal or external stimuli are ignored or blocked out of your conscious awareness for a period of time. If you are totally focussed on something else you will find you are not attending so much to the tinnitus sounds.
Hypnosis can be achieved with help from a practitioner (hypnotherapist) or on your own, perhaps with the aid of music or other relaxing sound. Hypnosis is like guided daydreaming: a form of relaxed concentration. Your body is relaxed first, then the conscious part of your mind, one’s critical thinking, becomes relaxed. This offers an opportunity to introduce relaxed, positive thoughts or images which help you to react less negatively to stimuli, such as tinnitus sounds.
Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM)
TCM uses a method called identifying patterns to determine treatment.
A TCM practitioner gathers information about the patient by
- observing their general appearance and their tongue
- palpation of their pulses
- a listening and smelling diagnosis that takes into account the sound of the patient, and reports about the state of their stool
- a thorough questioning of the patient.
Then the practitioner identifies a pattern within the theories of TCM that best describes the imbalance that is causing the patient’s complaint. The pattern could be related to particular acupuncture channels, or to the function of one of the organs or bowels (as these aspects of the body are understood within traditional Chinese physiology and pathology), or to both.
On the basis of the predominant pattern of imbalance that is discerned, a treatment principle is proposed that will resolve the imbalance. If, for example, the patient has a weakness of some aspect that aspect will be strengthened; if there is a problem of heat, it will be cooled; and so forth.
On the basis of the treatment principle, the practitioner will select the acupuncture (see below) and/or herbal treatment that is most suited for the patient. Patients can also be given other treatments, such as Chinese massage, cupping or martial arts exercise, depending upon the choice of methods that are available
Acupuncture is a therapy based on the principle that there is a nervous connection between the organs of the body and the body surface. When an organ is diseased, acupuncture points, as they are called, appear in or just beneath the skin and are tender. Acupuncturists hold that these tender points disappear on treatment no matter how the patient is treated (either conventionally, homeopathically or by acupuncture, for instance).
Acupuncture itself is the insertion of very fine needles (sometimes in conjunction with electrical stimulus) into the skin to modify the activity of the point and so influence other parts of the body. The purpose of this stimulation is to influence physiological, emotional and psychological functions in the mind and body.
Several theories have been presented as to exactly how acupuncture works. One theory suggests that pain impulses are blocked from reaching the spinal cord or brain at various “gates” to these areas. Since a majority of acupuncture points are either connected to (or are located near) nerve structures, this suggests that acupuncture stimulates the nervous system. Another theory suggests that acupuncture stimulates the body to produce certain narcotic-like substances which relieve pain.
Oriental medicine has been used to treat many common ailments such as nerve/muscle/bone conditions (such as arthritis, neuralgia, insomnia, dizziness, and neck/shoulder pain); emotional and psychological disorders (such as depression and anxiety); circulatory disorders (such as high blood pressure, angina, arteriosclerosis and anaemia); addictions to alcohol, nicotine and other drugs; respiratory disorders (such as emphysema, sinusitis, allergies and bronchitis); and gastrointestinal conditions (such as food allergies, ulcers, chronic diarrhoea, constipation, indigestion, intestinal weakness, anorexia and gastritis).
The National Institutes of Health (USA) also found that acupuncture could be useful by itself or in combination with other therapies to treat addiction, headaches, menstrual cramps, tennis elbow, fibromyalgia, myofascial pain, osteoarthritis, lower back pain, carpal tunnel syndrome and asthma. Other studies have demonstrated that acupuncture may help in the rehabilitation of stroke patients and can relieve nausea in patients recovering from surgery.
Controlled trials have failed to demonstrate a general benefit of acupuncture for managing troublesome tinnitus, but acupuncture and other forms of TCM may improve one’s overall health and well-being.
Controlled trials have also failed to demonstrate a benefit of the herbal remedy gingko biloba for relieving tinnitus, and for some takers the tinnitus got louder.
Yoga combines breathing, exercises, relaxation, meditation and visualisation.
Breathing is the basis of your whole existence; it provides energy and controls your health. Learning correct breathing strengthens all the body’s internal systems, reduces stress and blood pressure, and prevents illness by boosting your immune system. By controlling your breathing you can become less anxious and more relaxed.
Exercises, such as stretching, bending and twisting improve your flexibility. Stretching releases tension in the muscles. Bending and twisting strengthen the spine.
Relaxation helps to calm the body and mind and restore the body’s normal energy flow.
Meditation helps you to calm and control your mind. By practising meditation regularly you become less concerned and upset by things. Nervous tension and stress are removed.
Visualisation is like playing a game, where you can bring about success after creating a positive feeling or picture in your mind.
Yoga is not difficult. If an exercise feels difficult you should stop, or don’t bend, stretch or twist as far. You work at your own pace and only do what you are able. In time, as you become more flexible, you will find that you can reach parts of your body that had been unreachable.
Yoga can help you no matter what your state of health. Yoga can be fun and is easy for even children to learn. Many exercises follow animal poses, like the cat, dog, lion or cobra and children can make the animal noises while exercising.
Depending on your health and flexibility you may need private lessons, or you can join a yoga class. There is no competition in yoga. You will find that practising yoga gives you more self- confidence and more self-discipline. As you learn to work with your mind and body, you will become more in control and feel more independent. Yoga is one of the many ways that can help you discover just how much we are capable of.
Yoga cannot cure tinnitus or disability but it can help to stabilise it. Because yoga works on the whole body (your mind, your body and your inner self, the spirit) you gain more confidence and become more relaxed. Also, by tuning-in to your body you learn how to listen to your body rather than your mind. Yoga encourages positive thoughts.
(Adapted from: Virginia Sambucco, Yoga Practitioner)
Sound Therapy is a portable self-help program that uses specially recorded audio- tapes or CDs of highly filtered classical music to “rehabilitate the ear and recharge the brain”. Sound Therapy presents constantly alternating sounds of high and low tone. This, it is claimed, “exercises the middle ear muscles and stimulates the receptor cells in the inner ear”.
There are no controlled trials of Sound Therapy as a technique for managing tinnitus, but Sound Therapy claims to have the following effects (most of which are unproven):
- New vitality and sense of wellbeing
- Obliteration of tiredness and stress
- Deep relaxation and relief of anxiety
- Heightened creativity and mental capacity
- Increased energy, focus and performance
- Deep, beneficial sleep and an end to insomnia
- Improved hearing for those with industrial deafness or hearing loss due to ageing
- Relief of tinnitus(ringing in the ears)
- Better balance and recovery from Meniere’s vertigo
- Improved concentration and learning ability
- Recovery from learning problems such as ADD, dyslexia etc.
- Improved behaviour and communication in children
- Increased voice quality and vocal range
- Better relationships and greater family harmony
Sound Therapy International