Ayurveda, tinnitus and other ear problems
I turned to Ayurveda in December 2016 and it changed my life.
A yoga teacher once told me that she had a terrible problem with her ears while on holiday in India and Ayurveda cured her.
It was the first I’d heard about Ayurveda but it wasn’t relevant to me, as I didn’t have any health problems at the time. If anything, I thought it sounded completely insane.
But after developing my own ear problems, her story kept whirling around my head. I’d been virtually housebound for 11 months and was increasingly depressed by my snail-like progress. I decided to put my doubts aside and try Ayurveda.
I’m so glad I did.
What is Ayurveda?
Ayurveda is India’s ancient healing system. It dates back 5,000 years and is widely regarded as the world’s oldest system of health.
It means ‘science of life’ and has two main principles. Firstly, it tells us how to live healthy, happy lives. Secondly, it gives us methods for curing diseases.
How it works
According to Ayurveda, the human body (like everything else in nature) has three doshas called vata, pitta and kapha which act as the body’s invisible intelligence. The doshas are present in all of us but their exact ratio varies between one person and the next, which is what makes us unique.
The key to living healthy, happy lives is to keep the doshas in balance. This is easier said than done as they’re constantly fluctuating according to our age, the weather, what we eat and drink, our thoughts, actions and stress levels.
Disease occurs when toxins build up in our bodies. This causes one or more of the doshas to accumulate beyond a healthy level. When out of balance in this way, the doshas wreak havoc on our bodies.
About the doshas
The doshas govern every aspect of our physiology and give us our personal characteristics.
Vata governs movement in the body such as the heartbeat, blinking and the journey of food through the GI tract. It gives us creativity, speed of thought, anxiety and nervousness.
Pitta is the body’s fire, and controls body temperature, metabolism and digestion. It’s responsible for passion, ambition, anger and competitiveness.
Kapha gives the body its physical form and enables children to grow. It is the body’s cement, glue and lubrication. It gives us physical strength, lubricates our joints and moisturises our skin. It gives us loyalty and forgiveness; makes us sluggish and greedy.
Ayurveda and ear disorders
Most ear disorders, such as excessive ear wax, tinnitus, hyperacusis and Meniere’s disease, are caused by a vata imbalance. This means vata has accumulated to an unhealthy level and needs to be reduced.
Confusingly vertigo can be caused by a vata, pitta or kapha imbalance depending on the symptoms. It’s thought mine was caused by a vata imbalance.
Understanding other symptoms
Ayurveda also explains my other symptoms.
Vata creates fear, anxiety and nervousness. A vata imbalance explains the fear and panic with which I responded to everyday sounds such as laughter and running water and why I became agoraphobic. It also explains the creativity I’ve discovered since becoming unwell.
Similarly, it gives a reason for my chronic insomnia. Each dosha has a dominant time of day; vata’s is 2-6 am and pm. As vata governs our thoughts, this is why I constantly woke at 2am with my mind racing and I couldn’t fall back to sleep until after 5am.
Vata governs movement around the body. When it becomes aggravated, it hinders the movement of pitta and kapha which can cause them to become out of balance too.
The savage fever, the rash that ran from my armpits to my knees, and the anger unleashed by the illness are all symptoms of a pitta imbalance.
Diagnosing and treating dosha imbalances is both a science and an art.
I found a wonderful Ayurvedic doctor in London who guided me through the bewildering process.
The first step was to reduce vata because the symptoms caused by this imbalance (tinnitus, hyperacusis and insomnia) were the most severe. Because of vata’s disruptive effect on the other doshas, settling vata should help bring pitta back into balance too.
Each dosha has specific attributes that help rebalance the body and cure disease. Vata’s attributes are dry, rough, light and cold, like a piece of chalk.
In Ayurveda, “like increases like” while opposites create balance. For example, eating dry rough foods such as raw oats, or light, cold foods such as lettuce will increase vata. Oily, heavy foods like avocados and full fat milk reduce vata.
Vata is also pacified by massaging sesame-seed oil into the body. This is called abhyanga. Sesame oil is used because it is naturally warming, which helps to balance vata.
In addition to a strict vata-pacifying diet and the daily abhyanga massage, the doctor also prescribed a sesame oil nasal spray to calm vata in my ears, nose and throat, and herbal pills to settle vata’s influence on my mind.
Did it work?
The results were instant and transformative.
The insomnia stopped almost immediately and the tinnitus started to reduce, especially in the mornings. My mind became more settled which gave me clarity for the first time in almost a year.
Within a month I was able to tolerate noise to such an extent that I returned to the office three days a week. A few months later I was back at work full-time.
Ayurveda has not been plain sailing – there have been setbacks and I have often been brought to my knees. However the results have been so extraordinary that I’ve never doubted the power of this system of healing and, over the last 18 months, I’ve gone to extreme measures to fully immerse myself in it.
The next post gives a more personal description of Ayurvedic treatments for ear disorders and their results.
Ayurveda sounds bonkers and I started off being sceptical. However I am now a true convert and I’d encourage anyone with a long-term health issue to give it a try.