You might be wondering, does medical marijuana treat tinnitus? Currently there is no clear-cut answer. Some researchers believe it might be beneficial, but others say it could be harmful. The verdict is out among marijuana users too. Many tinnitus sufferers have reported improvement with cannabis, but others have less than dismal results.
What is Tinnitus?
Tinnitus is a persistent ringing, buzzing, whistling, hissing, or chirping in the ears. In some cases, the sound even moves and beats in harmony with the heart. The sound’s level can vary and may be intermittent or non-stop. Many sufferers are most aware of the sound late at night when everything is quiet. The American Tinnitus Association states that approximately 50 million people in the US suffer from the disorder and around two million have a debilitating form. Many sufferers report problems with work and relationships due to tinnitus. Often conventional treatments fail to solve the problem so many are turning to medical marijuana to find relief from tinnitus.
Causes of Tinnitus
Exposure to loud noises often causes tinnitus. In fact, reports show that up to 90 percent of sufferers often have a noise-induced hearing loss. It is believed that the disorder results when the sound-sensitive cells of the cochlea sustain damage. Often people who work in noisy professions such as rock musicians, pilots, forest workers, individuals in the military, and landscapers suffer from tinnitus. Often, a single exposure to extremely loud noise causes damage that leads to the disorder.
Other causes of tinnitus include:
- Earwax buildup
- Certain prescription medications
- High blood pressure
- Circulatory problems
- Cardiovascular disease
- Underactive thyroid gland
- Some autoimmune disorders
- Disorders of the neck or jaw such as temporomandibular joint (TMJ) syndrome
- Injuries to the head or neck
Medical Marijuana Results Vary in Tinnitus Sufferers
Although some medical marijuana users swear that cannabis helps alleviate tinnitus, others may not experience the same results. In many cases, smoking cigarettes, drinking, and caffeinated beverages make the ringing worse. Dr. Yiwen Zheng of the University of Otago in New Zealand found during a study little difference among tinnitus sufferers who used synthetic cannabinoids. Most experienced no reduction in the noise levels and others even reported increased frequency.
The Endocannabinoid System and Cochlear Nucleus
All mammals have what is known as an endocannabinoid system that is made up of CB1 and CB2 receptors. The endocannabinoid system’s receptors bind easily with the cannabinoids found in marijuana. Many researchers still maintain hope that medical marijuana might be the magic cure for tinnitus because it was found that there are CB2 receptors in the brainstem vestibular and cochlear nuclei. In another study that involved mice, administration of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) caused the hyperactive behavior in the cochlear nucleus which may reduce tinnitus but further clinical studies that involve humans is necessary to draw any definitive conclusions.
Although tinnitus is not a life-threatening condition, it does affect an individual’s life and can be extremely annoying over time. Ideally, if you are a tinnitus sufferer and you live in a state where medical marijuana has undergone legalization then you might want to see if cannabis has a positive effect on the condition. Please be sure to consult with your physician prior to use. In many areas, a physician must diagnose you with the disorder to receive a medical marijuana card.