"It hath flown against me. It hath attacked me. O seven heavens, seven earths, seven winds, seven fires, by heaven be ye exorcised." If you suffered from Tinnitus in Mesopotamian times (4000BC-500BC), this chant would be whispered in your ear until the demon spirit was expelled or the patient faked recovery, favouring the illness over the cure! In ancient Egypt they used infused oil, frankincense, tree sap, herbs and soil and administered the mixture via a reed stalk that they put in the external ear.
The Greco-Roman medicine folk were first to distinguish two types of tinnitus, one stemming from a cold (respiratory) and the other from the head (vascular) – either way, their cure was placing radish, cucumber juice, honey and vinegar in the ear and hoping for the best. In the Middle Ages, they continued with this pouring of things into the ear - a Welsh treatment recommended to take “a loaf of hot bread, divide it in two, and put it in each ear as hot as you could take it and thus perspire and by the help of God you would be cured”! These days, a cure for tinnitus remains elusive and treatment options are as varied as the people who suffer from it, but nutrition can play a positive role its management although it has more to do with eating the right food rather than sticking it in your ear!
Tinnitus is the perception of noise, buzzing, hissing or ringing in the ears, coming from within the ear rather than an external source. Affecting around 20% of the population, tinnitus isn't a condition itself per se, rather it is a symptom of an underlying condition, such as age-related hearing loss, ear injury, wax build-up or cardiovascular system disorder. There is good information of risk factors – prolonged exposure to loud noises, stress, ear wax and blockages, smoking and the natural aging process. Medical conditions associated with tinnitus include high blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, circulatory problems, anaemia, allergies, an underactive thyroid gland and diabetes. Conventional treatment is largely dependent on these risk factors and the management of underlying issues with medication. Nutrition is an overlooked option for many yet most of the associated health conditions are well managed through diet and lifestyle measures.
Excess consumption of sodium is directly linked to tinnitus. It restricts blood vessels, increases blood pressure, and significantly reduces blood flow to the cochlea in the ear. It is also involved in the maintenance of cellular fluid balance which can affect the ear as well as other areas in the body. In Traditional Chinese Medicine, the kidney and ear are associated organs – not only are they similar in appearance, but also share common adversaries. A low-sodium diet involves using little or no salt in cooking, and never adding salt to your food at the table. Processed meats, ready-made foods, canned/powder soups, commercial bread products, many breakfast cereals and certain cheese are especially high in salt which is used as a preservative to increase shelf life.
Sugar metabolism is a factor worth noting, particularly if you also have type 2 diabetes or pre-diabetes. The cochlea of the ear affected by tinnitus have a limited supply of nutrition, with only oxygen and glucose really making any impact to support proper function. Impaired sugar metabolism can directly affect the ear, as it can contribute to many of the conditions associated with tinnitus including diabetes and cardiovascular disease.
Do not be tempted to substitute sugar with artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, even though it is marketed as a diabetic-friendly option. Aspartame and flavour-enhancer MSG are excitatory neurotransmitters. That is, they excite brain neurons and increase levels of electrical activity in the brain and the auditory cortex, the area where tinnitus is perceived. Studies have shown that people with tinnitus may have an elevated level of electrical activity and reducing this activity is helpful. Increasing electrical activity increases intensity and duration of tinnitus.
A diet rich in saturated animal fats and trans fats have a detrimental effect on our vascular system, clogging up the blood vessels and inhibiting the smooth flow of blood and nutrients to organs including the ear. Similarly, elimination of toxins out of organs can be impeded by restricted blood flow to and from organs. Healthy fats such omega 3 from oily fish, nuts and seeds, maintains blood flow by keeping blood thinner and supporting the walls of blood vessels for optimal circulation. A Mediterranean-style diet is the most studied and appropriate diet for both cardiovascular health and tinnitus as it can help prevent many of their common risk factors.
Eating foods that are close to their natural state, varied wholefoods, vegetables and fruits and simple, uncomplicated ingredients offer the best overall management for tinnitus and many of the conditions that are linked with it. For those unwilling to look to diet, I refer you back to the chanting and wish you luck!
Researched and written by Irene :)
An introduction to Celtic Shamanism with Elena Danaan. Another beautiful installment of the Celtic Journey series of workshops with a truly intriguing and genuine druidess! What a wonderful way to spend the Bank Holiday Sunday! Details and contact information in the poster below!
Did you know that Sweet potatoes are super-rich in betacarotene, a precursor to vitamin A and an anti-oxidant! This little recipe provides almost 10,000iu of vitamin A, ready to use in th body for eye health, respiratory linings, lung tissue, gut linings and the skin! This is a simple breakfast recipe, perfect for the weekend! Enjoy :)
Let us know how you get on with this recipe in the comments section!
Asparagus has enjoyed an almost lofty reputation since it was first depicted in Egyptian wall art around 3,000 BC. A revered plant among the Roman upper classes, Greek botanists and early medicine practitioners, asparagus continues to hold its head up high today and is widely available to all people, no matter their standing in the community! Perhaps its spear-like shape gives it an air of superiority or maybe it’s the culinary profession who have made it “all fancy” – whatever the reason, there is a lot to be celebrated once those shoots emerge from the ground and the short-lived asparagus season begins!
In Ireland and the UK, home-grown asparagus is at its best from the last week of April to the first week of June - roughly 40 days and nights of pure asparagus joy! After this time, the spears begin to open and the stems tend to get woody and tough. Like any vegetable, true to its season – asparagus’ timely appearance prepares the body for the bounty of heart-friendly Summer foods that will shortly be in great supply. Rich in rutin, a bioflavonoid, this nutrient strengthens our capillaries and has been used to help lower blood pressure, treat haemorrhoids and varicose veins as well as prevent and treat venous leg ulcers. Another nutrient, folate, much discussed in the media recently, is also in rich supply - a 100g serving of asparagus provides a whopping 67% of our daily requirement. Folate is required to complete red cell formation, reduce levels of homocysteine in the blood and supports the entire nervous system. For women of child-bearing age, folate is well-known for its role in preventing neural tube defects in newborns. Other nutrients of significance include vitamins A, C, E and K, dietary fibre and some minerals.
Asparagus is quite the hero in the gut too providing a special type of fibre, called Inulin, in great quantity! Inulin fibre, also known as a prebiotic, does not get broken down in the first segments of the intestinal tract, but makes it way undigested to the large intestine. Once there, it becomes an ideal food source for beneficial bacteria such as Lactobacilli and Bifidobacteria. A healthy colony of such bacteria is associated with better nutrient absorption, lower risk of allergy and lower risk of colon cancer. Most of the vitamin K provided by asparagus as with other greens is actually created by friendly bacteria in the large intestine – we provide for them and they provide for us, perfect synergy! Vitamin K, most noted for its role in the clotting mechanism is also vital for bone and cardiovascular health.
With the asparagus season comes the age-old debate as to whether or not asparagus produces a funny smell in urine. There is some evidence that sulphur containing compounds may be attributed to the odour, but it is far from conclusive and should not deter from enjoying it while it is in season. Furthermore, who knows, perhaps asparagus just gives us a greater sense of smell, either way, why is anyone smelling their pee? Another notable claim to fame is its aphrodisiac power, again, no real evidence and hopefully it has nothing to do with the pee smell. Saying that, Marcel Proust, a famed French novelist in the 19th century claimed that asparagus “had the effect of transforming his humble chamber pot into a bowl of aromatic perfume” – not sure if the ladies would agree! The aphrodisiac effect of asparagus is more likely due to its suggestive shape rather than a special trait although any food that nourishes the blood vessels and circulation will also be beneficial to sexual health, particularly for men.
Young seasonal asparagus requires very little preparation or cooking. The thinner the stems the quicker it cooks. It is best steamed for a few minutes in a little water standing upright with the thicker ends in the water. This way the tender spear heads are just lightly steamed and impart loads of flavour. The spear heads can also be snapped off and eaten raw in salads. Asparagus is also delicious sautéed in a little butter and fresh herbs. When you buy asparagus, just break off about an inch or two from the end, rinse and wrap the stems in kitchen paper and store in the fridge. Asparagus will keep in the fridge for days and even longer if you place the stems upright in jar leaving the ends in a little water to prevent them drying out. Enjoy!
Researched and written by Irene :)
Good nutrition does not have to be complicated, and it doesn't get more simple than this! Asparagus is in season now and can be enjoyed often while it is at its best! See articles for a deeper insight to this welcome vegetable!
Cook, Talk, Eat with Irene
We are back in the kitchen on Sunday June 23rd! Irene is creating a sharing menu full of the flavour and colour of the Summer, for you to enjoy on the day and all recipes to take away!
This Cook, Talk, Eat food demo is for anyone who gets excited by the seasons and is wondering what to do with such an abundant range of fruits and vegetables!
All our dishes and beverages will have a common theme of "Sharing is Caring" as we delve into the natural world and discover how we are connected to the Summer.
This is a fun, informative workshop which will give you the confidence and know-how to shop for seasonal ingredients, create a sharing menu, full of colour and flavour and to wow your guests this Summer!
Simple and Seasonal - plant based menu, healthy and full of vitality!
A 4-course lunch and Summery beverages included. Recipes for you to take away.
SUNDAY JUNE 23rd 11am-2pm
DINGLE COOKERY SCHOOL
€50pp (only 12 chairs around the table so book early!)
Click to Book
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