Defeat Dizziness, Tame Tinnitus
I have problems with tinnitus, mild dizziness and
lightheadedness. I’ve tried many vitamins and herbs, with no
success. I tried ginkgo for a month, but I am getting tired of it.
Do you have any idea how to solve it?
Willard responds: This is one of the more
difficult health issues I have treated in the last 30 years. I have
seen research stating that ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba) is up to 80
percent successful for tinnitus (ringing in the ears), but another
research paper from a few years ago found no significant cure rate
for tinnitus in almost 1,000 patients, in a double-blind,
placebo-controlled trial. My experience in treating tinnitus with
ginkgo has produced a success rate of around 20 to 30 percent.
Is there a way to get better results? Well, to be honest,
treating tinnitus is very difficult. The overall success rate for
treating tinnitus in our clinic is between 40 and 50 percent. I
have had the best results when using kidney and/or liver herbs
(especially tonics) according to Chinese medical theory. Because
ginkgo works as a tonic for the capillaries of the kidneys,
treating tinnitus with ginkgo makes sense from this perspective. I
also have had favorable results with two Chinese products (patent
medicines): Beijing Concentrated Tinnitus pills and Liu Wei Di
Huang Wan. These are available at health-food stores and herb
Several other supplements have yielded varying levels of
success. One Western herb I recently have used with success is
rhodiola (Rhodiola rosea), 1,000 mg twice daily. I also recommend a
rotation of the following herbs: black cohosh (Cimicifuga
racemosa), 40 to 60 mg twice daily; ligustrum (Ligustrum lucidum),
400 mg three times daily; mullein (Verbascum spp.), 2 to 4 grams
daily of herb equivalent, plus mullein oil in the ears; lesser
periwinkle (Vinca minor), 20 mg three times daily; and zinc, 50 to
100 mg daily.
Foods also can be helpful, such as sunflower seeds, fenugreek
(Trigonella foenum-graecum) seed tea, onions and litchi fruit. I
often refer patients to a reputable acupuncturist and/or homeopath,
as both of these approaches have had some success.
Khalsa responds: Your symptoms are indicative
of many possible conditions, some of which are potentially quite
serious, so medical assessment is essential. Tinnitus is one of the
most difficult conditions to treat with any therapy. It has many
causes, including brain dysfunctions and damage caused by loud
Ginkgo has been shown to benefit tinnitus, but scientific
results have been mixed. Certain recent experiments have shown very
good success, but in others, ginkgo was no better than a placebo.
Natural healing practitioners, who use it widely, report good
outcomes. Ginkgo has antioxidant qualities, and the herb is an
ideal treatment for a host of disorders of the head and brain. And
general inner ear dysfunction, including dizziness and vertigo, is
treated with ginkgo extract.
The original French study on ginkgo for tinnitus used a simple
95 percent alcohol tincture of dried leaf, which proved to be quite
effective, and this preparation is dramatically less expensive than
the highly processed European extracts that now dominate the
Another plant that may help is the cordyceps mushroom (Cordyceps
sinensis). Cordyceps may well be the next ginseng, due to its
seeming ability to increase energy levels, sex drive and athletic
performance. A dose of 3 grams daily may lead to significant
improvements in tinnitus, as well as fatigue, dizziness, cold
intolerance, frequent nighttime urination, low libido and memory
In Traditional Chinese Medicine, where it is called dong chong
xia cao, cordyceps is classified as a general health tonic, with
the capability to improve energy, stamina, appetite, endurance and
sleeping patterns. It’s also used in treating circulatory,
respiratory and immune problems, as well as sexual dysfunction. It
is thought to have a particularly beneficial effect on the kidneys
and lungs. There are scant human studies on cordyceps, but its
traditional uses, along with current animal research, add up to a
pretty compelling picture.
Hepatitis C Help
Could you please advise me as to what type of diet and which
herbs would be best for a 50-year-old man with type one hepatitis
C, with a viral load of about 1 million?
Willard responds: Hepatitis C has become a very
common problem in the clinic in the last several years. We use a
variety of herbs to aid in reducing the body’s viral load and to
support liver function.
The most prominent botanical that we use is a mushroom called
coriolus (Coriolus versicolor), or turkey tail. It has demonstrated
some great results. Most of the research on this mushroom
concentrates on the branch polysaccharides. There are more than 400
published studies on coriolus’ positive effect on critical health
problems, such as hepatitis and various forms of cancer. In the
clinic, we use an 8:1 extract of the mushroom at a dosage of 1,000
to 1,500 mg two to three times daily. The effectiveness has been
surprisingly high, with more than 50 percent of our patients
reducing their viral load substantially within a four-month
We normally add a liver-support formula to the protocol that
contains maitake (Grifola frondosa) in a 4:1 extract, shiitake
(Lentinula edodes) in an 8:1 extract, dandelion root (Taraxacum
officinale), milk thistle extract (Silybum marianum), black radish
(Raphanus sativus) and burdock root (Arctium lappa). The mushrooms
in this formula have proven success in Asia for various forms of
hepatitis, as well as other viruses. Dandelion, milk thistle, black
radish and burdock all are known to be liver-supportive herbs. The
dosage of this formula is also 1,000 to 1,500 mg twice daily.
Khalsa responds: Little is known about how to
specifically treat this controversial disease with natural methods.
What seems very clear, however, is that the process of the disease
can be halted, unless the patient is deep into cirrhosis. Liver
enzymes can be lowered. Every year, we get better at treating it.
Almost all natural therapies I use involve milk thistle, a
liver-supportive herb that seems to prevent further tissue
Yin-chen wormwood (Artemisia capillaris) is a cooling Chinese
herb that is used for inflammatory conditions of the liver. It is
showing promise in these cases. The Chinese dose is 9 to 15 grams
per day as tea. It tastes very bad, though, so you might prefer
Chinese salvia root (Salvia miltiorrhiza), also known as dan
shen, protects the liver and helps restore normal function in
damaged microcirculation. Bupleurum (Bupleurum chinense) and
Chinese skullcap root (Scutellaria baicalensis), both cooling
herbs, may help lower the liver enzymes and prevent the disease
process from proceeding.
Along with these herbal measures, avoiding liver toxins, such as
alcohol and any unnecessary drugs, is critical.
Globe artichoke (Cynara scolymus) contains a sesquiterpene
lactone (cynaropicrin), which gives the plant its well-known bitter
taste. Cynarin, another component, promotes bile flow and has
anti-toxic liver functions similar to milk thistle. Artichoke
promotes liver blood flow and regeneration. It is also cooling.
Steam artichokes as a vegetable, or juice the globe. Supplements
also are available. Other foods that generally benefit the liver
include beets (root and greens), carrots and radishes (all
I’ve seen several dozen people with hepatitis C stay healthy for
eight years or more, and it looks as though they have many healthy
years ahead. 8
Terry Willard is a clinical herbalist, president of the Canadian
Association of Herbal Practitioners and founder of the Wild Rose
College of Natural Healing in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. He is the
author of eight books and a CD-ROM, Interactive Herbal.
Karta Purkh Singh Khalsa has more than 25 years of experience
with medicinal herbs. A licensed dietitian/nutritionist, massage
therapist and board member of the American Herbalists Guild, he
specializes in Ayurvedic, Chinese and North American healing