by Alakananda Devi (Alakananda Ma), M.B., B.S. (Lond.)
According to Ayurveda, tinnitus in not a disease but a symptom of prana vayu disturbance. Prana vayu is a subdosha of vata which resides in the head and governs all higher cerebral functions, including swallowing and the inspiratory phase of respiration. If tinnitus goes untreated, other symptoms of prana vayu disturbance may follow, including anxiety, fear, nervousness, sleep disorder, tics, tremors, and stuttering. There may be other symptoms of vata disturbance in the ear, specifically dried ear wax, pain, and deafness.
Vacha (Acorus calamus) oil nasya, has a powerful effect in calming and balancing the prana vayu. To obtain the maximum effect at the head (the seat of prana vayu), and to circumvent any side effects of hyperacidity or nausea which occasionally occur when vacha is ingested, vacha is used in this case as a nasal medication. A preparation of sesame oil medicated with calamus root is taken nasally, five drops per nostril, at night and in the morning. The nasya should be warmed to blood heat before administration.
Foot massage, wherein the soles of the feet are massaged with warm sesame oil, has a specific effect in calming the prana vayu. At bedtime, warm sesame oil should be applied to the soles of the feet and also to the scalp. This treatment rapidly normalizes the prana vayu.
To calm the vata in the ears, ten drops of warm sesame oil is applied daily to each ear. The oil is allowed to remain in the first ear for five or ten minutes, then that ear is cleaned, and the same procedure is followed with the other ear, with the patient lying on the other side. Typically, this treatment should alleviate tinnitus, and most other symptoms of prana vayu disturbance, within eight to ten days.
Oral administration of sarasvati churna can be given in doses of a quarter teaspoon twice daily after meals. Since it contains vacha, sarasvati churna should not be used in pregnancy, bleeding disorder or peptic ulcer.
Consumption of caffeine, nicotine, or cocaine can disturb the prana vayu leading to tinnitus, as can excess television watching, excess use of computers, or sleeping near an electrical outlet. Lifestyle adjustments are thus an essential part of the effective treatment of tinnitus.
Tinnitus and Kundalini
Tinnitus, a warning symptom of disturbed prana vayu, should be carefully distinguished from perceptible nad, an indicator of active kundalini. The nad, or cosmic sound current, can be perceived only when our normally dormant potential energy, known in Ayurveda as kundalini shakti, the 'serpent power', is awakened. Practitioners who are unaware of or unfamiliar with this phenomenon may present to their physician complaining of tinnitus, when in fact they have begun to experience the nad. The following qualities distinguish perceptible nad from tinnitus:
- Nad is heard only in the right ear
- The sound typically resembles the buzzing of a bee, the ringing of Tibetan bells, singing bowls, or other musical instrument
- The sound usually heralds or accompanies an altered state of consciousness
The treatments for tinnitus will neither help nor harm a person experiencing perceptible nad In fact, oiling the soles of the feet and the scalp, the ears, and the nose, are beneficial preventative measures for anyone. However, it will be extremely helpful for the person experiencing this phenomenon to understand that, far from being a warning symptom of some imbalance, ringing ears due to nad are a positive sign of spiritual progress.
In summary, tinnitus is a symptom of prana vayu imbalance. If it goes untreated, more serious symptoms may result. Warm oil and vata-soothing herbs are most valuable in the treatment, and may be administered locally in the ears, nasally, and orally. Tinnitus should be carefully distinguished from kundalini phenomenon.
Peer-reviewed article first published in the Protocol Journal of Botanical Medicine.
Alakananda Devi (Alakananda Ma) is director of Alandi Ayurvedic Clinic in Boulder, Colorado, and principal teacher of Alandi School of Ayurveda, a traditional ayurvedic school and apprenticeship program. She can be reached at 303-786-7437 or by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.