Acupuncture & Tinnitus

Acupuncture & Tinnitus

I started acupuncture in February after hearing loads of stories about friends of friends who were cured of tinnitus by acupuncture.

The acupuncturist came highly recommended and I confess to having a stereotypical image in my mind of what an acupuncturist looks like. This guy isn’t it.

He’s a tall, lanky, middle aged American and gives treatments in his grand Highgate home, a far cry from the manky acupuncture clinics that I’ve previously visited.

The only way he meets my stereotype is his wisdom. He’s like a lanky Yoda, the Jedi Master from the Star Wars films, and he imparts extensive knowledge about the body and the healing system while sticking needles into my ear.

Tinnitus & Traditional Chinese Medicine

According to Traditional Chinese Medicine, the ear is connected to the kidneys, liver and gall bladder and ear disorders, including tinnitus, are caused by problems with these internal organs rather than being a specific auditory issue.

My symptoms, especially the fever and rash running from my rib cage to my knees, apparently indicate a problem with my liver and gall bladder.

I’m not prescribed any Chinese herbs as the acupuncturist is concerned about my liver function. Instead he puts needles in the acupuncture points for the gall bladder meridian on my arms, legs, feet and ear.

He also puts me on a strict anti-mucus diet. My ear, nose and throat tubes do not feel congested but the theory is that mucus prevents qi (the body’s energy) from flowing around the whole body.

Diet from hell

I’m astounded at the list of food I can’t eat. I try to be positive and ask about the foods which are permissible and he simply says “brown rice and lentils are good. Also have cayenne pepper, ginger and honey. And drink plenty of jasmine green tea – jasmine has a healing effect on internal organs”. That’s all I can eat?

Brown rice is too crunchy; chewing it triggers the most awful high pitched screeching sound in my ear. He doesn’t budge: “overcooked brown rice is fine”.

I also can’t eat salt. My osteopath looked up Betahistine, one of my medications, in a medical journal and it works by draining excess fluid from the inner ear and salt retains fluid in the body.  Great, salt is in everything so now I can’t even eat bread.

I am too ill to remember the long list of food I couldn’t eat so I create a very limited menu which required minimal effort in the kitchen and minimal chewing as both cause crippling tinnitus.

Breakfast: soya yoghurt with oats or porridge with linseeds and no salt (basically gruel).

Lunch: overcooked brown rice with green lentils. Sometimes I make soup but this requires withstanding the sound of the blender (see March 16 – Tinnitus & the Victorian Lady).

Dinner: overcooked wholewheat pasta with red lentils and Cayenne pepper.

I stick to it religiously for over 6 months. God it’s dull!


My friend Nikki gave me a gold spoon to add a touch of glamour to my depressing gruel-like breakfast.

Spontaneous healing

One of my acupuncturist’s pearls of wisdom was recommending the book Spontaneous Healing by Dr Andrew Weil.

Dr Weil is a Harvard educated doctor and in the book he acknowledges the limitations of conventional medicine and gives wonderful, uplifting accounts of people who have recovered from seemingly incurable illnesses by using alternative approaches.

The book saved me from falling too far into a black hole of depression and suicidal thoughts. It gave me the confidence to believe that I would get better, I just have to find the right alternative medicine to unlock my natural healing system.

The book is amazing and I recommend it to anyone struggling with health issues. Dr Weil’s influence runs throughout this blog.

Did it work?

Acupuncture has helped so many people with tinnitus and I’m convinced it helped my body through the peak of its crisis. I didn’t have the Eureka moment that I’ve since had with other alternative approaches and I stopped going after about 5 months.

However my Yoda-esque acupuncturist imparted so much wisdom and knowledge about the body’s healing system that he helped give me the strength to start climbing the steep road of recovery, not to mention the steep hill to his Highgate home, and that was worth its weight in gold.


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