How does cannabis alleviate tinnitus symptoms?

How does cannabis effectively treat tinnitus?

There is a growing number of individuals suffering from permanent ear damage, such as exposure to excessively loud music at festivals. However, tinnitus can have various other causes. This condition can be maddening for those affected. A recent study has examined the effects of cannabis on tinnitus.

Tinnitus can stem from a wide range of physical and psychological conditions, including: concussions, smoking, certain medications, ear infections, high blood pressure, anxiety, depression, or hearing loss. Technically, tinnitus refers to the perception of sound originating from the nervous system, unrelated to external stimuli. It can manifest as ringing, buzzing, humming, hissing, clicking, or whistling. This phantom sound is often accompanied by sleep problems, poor concentration, and mood swings. Tens of millions of people suffer from this distressing condition.

Study Among Tinnitus Patients

A recent study conducted among tinnitus patients suggests that cannabis may potentially offer relief. The findings of this study were published in the Journal of Otolaryngology – Head & Neck Surgery in February 2023. The study involved assessing the perception and use of cannabis among 45 adult tinnitus patients randomly selected from an outpatient ear, nose, and throat clinic in Ontario, Canada. . .

Out of the 45 participants, with a median age of 55, only ten reported using cannabis (19 had never used cannabis, and 16 had used it in the past). Among these ten users, eight reported that cannabis helped alleviate some tinnitus symptoms, although not necessarily the bothersome noise itself. Seven out of eight found it helpful for sleep disorders, pain, emotional discomfort, functional problems, and vertigo symptoms. Only three out of ten found cannabis useful for the actual hearing symptoms typical of tinnitus.

Interest in Cannabis Treatment

Out of the 45 participants, 41 indicated interest in using cannabis as a treatment for their auditory symptoms, which are the primary concern for most individuals with tinnitus. However, the ten current users in the study reported the least improvement in auditory symptoms thanks to cannabis. It is worth noting that previous reviews in 2020 and 2019 found inadequate evidence supporting the reduction of chronic tinnitus through cannabis use. Additionally, a December 2020 review by researchers from Yale University and the University of Connecticut stated that “there are no definitive animal data or human studies on the use of cannabinoids to alleviate tinnitus.”

A biological rationale for treating tinnitus with cannabinoids does exist, as explained by the authors. Cannabinoids may potentially work due to their anticonvulsant effects. Tinnitus is associated with a phenomenon known as “neuronal hyperexcitability,” which is also observed in epilepsy.

In a November 2020 review published in Frontiers in Neurology, further complexity and subtleties surrounding this issue were explored. The article wisely pointed out that animal studies demonstrating the potential exacerbation of tinnitus through cannabinoids focused on CB1 agonists. This disregarded other connections involving CB2 receptors, which impact immune function and are increasingly recognized as essential in understanding pathological responses in the nervous system, as well as “non-classical” cannabinoid targets such as transient receptor potential (TRP) channels that affect vision, taste, smell, touch, and hearing. The current evidence remains mixed, inconclusive, and incomplete.

Source: (EN)

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