Ginkgo Protects Hearing, Heals Hearing Loss
According to the National Institute on Deafness and other Communication Disorders, National Institutes of Health, up to 40 million Americans under the age of 70 may be affected by noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL). For many in noisy jobs – construction, the music industry (think live concerts), and other sound-intensive work, hearing loss from daily living may seem inevitable. But it doesn’t have to be.
A German study examined the effects of a specific extract of Ginkgo biloba on NIHL and resulting tinnitus (internal “ringing” of the ears). The results of this study showed that ginkgo significantly reduced NIHL, the most common form of hearing loss, and the development of tinnitus. It also appeared to have a protective effect on the processing of sound at the peripheral (the ear and its components) and central (receptors in the brain) levels.
Most people are aware of ginkgo’s brain benefits, however, using ginkgo for recovery of hearing and protecting against hearing loss may come as a surprise. For anyone who works in high-noise environments or has experienced hearing loss from those kinds of environments, ginkgo may provide an effective means for “reconnecting” the auditory signals with the receptors in the brain, while inhibiting future hearing loss.
Tziridis K, Korn S, Ahlf S, Schulze H. Protective effects of Ginkgo biloba extract EGb 761 against noise trauma-induced hearing loss and tinnitus development. Neural Plast. 2014;2014:427298.
Noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL) and resulting comorbidities like subjective tinnitus are common diseases in modern societies. A substance shown to be effective against NIHL in an animal model is the Ginkgo biloba extract EGb 761. Further effects of the extract on the cellular and systemic levels of the nervous system make it a promising candidate not only for protection against NIHL but also for its secondary comorbidities like tinnitus. Following an earlier study we here tested the potential effectiveness of prophylactic EGb 761 treatment against NIHL and tinnitus development in the Mongolian gerbil. We monitored the effects of EGb 761 and noise trauma-induced changes on signal processing within the auditory system by means of behavioral and electrophysiological approaches. We found significantly reduced NIHL and tinnitus development upon EGb 761 application, compared to vehicle treated animals. These protective effects of EGb 761 were correlated with changes in auditory processing, both at peripheral and central levels. We propose a model with two main effects of EGb 761 on auditory processing, first, an increase of auditory brainstem activity leading to an increased thalamic input to the primary auditory cortex (AI) and second, an asymmetric effect on lateral inhibition in AI.