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Medical Marijuana For Tinnitus

Tinnitus may be described as the perception of sound, in the form ringing, clicking, buzzing, hissing and in some instances even buzzing, when there is no external corresponding sound present anywhere. The quality of the sound that is heard may be loud, or soft, a high-pitched sound or low-pitched ringing. Everyone of us has experienced this ringing in one form or another during our lifetime. So, what is the cause of this sound in our ears in the absence of a kind external sound that resembles the ring?

In this article we will try and understand what tinnitus is, why we have this experience with our hearing, the cause behind the sound, what does it mean and does marijuana have anything to do with the ringing of your ears.

Why do I have this ringing noise inside my ears?

Although the ringing sensation is in our ears, the real source of the ringing or tinnitus is within the complex cell networks of the brain, which is also referred to as neural circuits. The ringing sounds if one listens to it closely as and when it occurs, it feels like the sound originates in your ears and continues inside your head.

Figuring the human brain and how it works still poses a mammoth challenge, filled with infinite mysteries. Subjects like consciousness, how it comes to be and where it all happens is still baffling to most neuroscientists. So from where in the brain this sound actually originates and why is it still a subject that will require further research and studying. Some scientists are of the opinion that tinnitus is a condition that resembles chronic pain syndrome, which is the persistence of pain even after the wound has been perfectly healed.

In terms of where tinnitus originates, the science and more specifically the neurology is still stuck at ‘could be this’ or ‘may be that’ in their assumptions. No conclusive answer has been yet found to solve the ringing mystery of tinnitus, though strides have been made in research and study of the condition, and our understanding of it is better today than it was yesterday.

What is the cause of Tinnitus?

According to the National Institute of Deafness and Other Communication Disorders, tinnitus is not a disease. However, it is a symptom that something may be not right in your auditory system, the system which overall includes – your pair of ears, the auditory nerve inside your ears which connects your inner ear to your brain, and the various parts of the brain where sound is processed and identified.

The different factors which can cause the condition of tinnitus are –

  • Old age

Tinnitus is often one of the first signs of loss in hearing in aged people. 

  • Side effect of medication

It has been seen among the various side effects drugs and medication, ringing of ears can be on. More than 200 drugs and medications have been identified whose side effect is tinnitus, when you stop taking one of those drugs or medication after consuming it for a long period.

  • Noisy work environment

Exposure to working in noisy environments over a long period of time can lead to tinnitus. People who work in factories, construction sites and such other works of life where the ear is exposed to loud sounds and noises for a long period of time, are more likely to develop the condition of tinnitus over time. The incessant exposure to noise and loud sounds results in the damage of tiny sensory hair cells that are present in your inner ear, which helps to transmit sounds to the brain. The damage of these sensory hair cells  consequently results in what is called noise-induced hearing loss.

  • Exposure to bomb blasts and loud artillery

This cause is more common in people who serve or have served in the military. Military personels exposed to loud artillary and bomb blasts can develop the condition tinnitus if the shock wave of the artillery sounds and bomb explosions squeezes the skull, damaging parts of the brain tissue in the areas that assist in the processing of sound waves.

Treating Tinnitus

Medical science has not been able to come up with a cure for tinnitus yet, but there are treatments available that help to cope with the condition better. Depending on the severity and seriousness of the condition, most of the ENT specialists or Otolaryngologists out there will generally offer a combination of the treatments that are listed below.

  • Use of Hearing Aids

The use of hearing aids has often been proved to help with assisted hearing for people suffering from hearing loss along with the condition of tinnitus. The mechanism involved in the use of hearing aids allows one to control the surrounding level of external sounds and noises, which helps in hearing more clearly. Better your hearing is, the less you will be aware of the ringing sound in your ears.

  • Portable Sound Generators

Portable sound generators are small electronic devices that are wearable, much like your hearing aids. These sound generators which are worn like ear plug-ins produce soft pleasant and soft sounds that will help cover or mask the ringing noise. The level of the masking sound produced by the sound generator depends upon the people using it and their personal preferences. Similar to sound generators, there is another device that produces soft and pleasant sound to mask the ringing. This device is called the table top sound generator and can be placed near your bed before going to sleep.

  • Counseling 

Counseling is another form of treatment that may be used to mitigate your tinnitus. This treatment method does not use any kind of technological devices, but is a program that requires sharing and talking about your condition and living with it. The main goal of counseling is to help make adjustments with your condition and learn to live fully with the condition.


  • Acoustic Neural Stimulation 

The use of acoustic neural stimulation, which is relatively a new form of technique and it used to help people cope with very loud forms of tinnitus or the ringing that is of perpetual nature. The device used for the acoustic neural stimulation is small that can fit in the palms of your hands and comes with a pair of headphones. This device assists in the stimulation of your neural circuits inside your brain, which overtime numbs ringing sounds or tinnitus.

  • Cochlear implants 

Generally the use of cochlear implants is recommended for those who suffer from severe hearing loss along with tinnitus. How the cochlear implants work is that the implants totally circumvent the damaged part or portion of your inner ear and assists in sending direct electrical signals to your auditory nerve.

Marijuana and Tinnitus?

There are popular opinions that say medical marijuana can be used to treat tinnitus, on the other hand there are opinions that say use of marijuana over time  can induce tinnitus. However, how one is actually related to the other is still not known and a subject of conjecture and speculation. This stalemate situation regarding the relationship between use of marijuana and tinnitus has not stopped people from taking surveys from people and conducting experiments on animals. 

Cannabinoid Studies in Animals

In the year 2015, an experimental study was done using rats to find out how cannabis affects the symptoms in animals, in this experiment, rats. The dose of medical marijuana used was in the ratio 1:1, THC to CBD. The rats were divided into 4 different groups, one with tinnitus and the other with normal rats. 

This experiment to see the effects of cannabinoids in animals using rats took place over a month where the rats were given cannabinoids half an hour before the tinnitus behavioral testing. The rats who had the condition of acoustic trauma, but not the condition tinnitus, were observed to have higher risk of developing tinnitus at different sound frequencies, than the control group. With this finding, the experiment was able to show that cannabinoids may induce the development of tinnitus in subjects that have a condition of pre-existing hearing impairment.

Studies on Medical Cannabis and Humans

In the year 2019 a study was carried out to see whether there was an association between the use of cannabis and tinnitus. The main objective of this study was to evaluate and analyze associations and links between the use of cannabis and the frequency of occurrences and severity of tinnitus.  

The method of the study included collection of data from 2705 non-institutionalized adult people between the age of 20 and 69. As a requirement for the study, these 2705 people had to undergo audiometric testing, followed by the administration of questionnaires, which included questions regarding their hearing capability and health, the usage of drugs, information on their current health status and the participant’s medical history.

As per the findings of the study, the participants who used cannabis at least once a month in the last 12 months were seen to be more prone to the sensation of ringing in the ears in that last 12 months. On the other hand, the use of other kinds of substances and drugs like heroin, cocaine, methamphetamine and alcohol, were not associated or linked with tinnitus. 

Different types of Tinnitus

When it comes to the variants of tinnitus that people experience, there are three types of tinnitus – the Subjective tinnitus, the objective tinnitus, people who experience both forms of subjective and objective tinnitus, Pulsatile tinnitus.

  • Subjective Tinnitus

Subjective tinnitus is the type of tinnitus, which occurs when a person hears clear sounds and noises inside their head or within their ears that other people nearby cannot hear, because there is no such external source for the sound. As this is clearly caused due to the malfunctioning of a given person’s neurological and auditory reactions, and does not have any pertinent external cause. Hence the term subjective tinnitus.

  • Objective Tinnitus

Objective tinnitus refers to the noise that people hear in their ears which has an actual and tangible source within the ear and the brain. In objective tinnitus, the noise that is emitted from a person’s ears is audible to other people if listened closely. So unlike subjective tinnitus this form of tinnitus has an actual and concrete source from where the noise emanates.

These sounds are generally produced as a result of internal ear auditory functions and bodily movements. A common example is the sound of waves that people hear when they cover their ears with their hands formed in the shape of a shell. The sound that you hear is not the not of the actual waves but the sound of the circulation of your blood. Severity in objective tinnitus may be a symptom of abnormal blood circulation within your veins and your arteries calling for an immediate visit to your doctor.

  • Pulsatile Tinnitus

When a person hears a mix of wave sounds and noises closely resembling to thumbing, both sounds following a steady and uniform beat pattern, then the person experiencing this can be said to have a Pulsatile Tinnitus condition. The sounds that the person experiences is a mix of subjective and objective tinnitus. One of the sounds will only be audible to him or her and the other other will be audible to other people as well. This third type of tinnitus is also often referred to as pulse-synchronous tinnitus.


To summarize, tinnitus is a condition that is not uncommon, the older one gets the more vulnerable one becomes to this condition. As for the relationship of tinnitus to use of marijuana, the studies and experiments that have been done and conducted regarding this subject shows that medical marijuana is not the solution to treat tinnitus, on the contrary, as per the finding of the studies done, frequent use of marijuana may induce the condition of tinnitus.

When it comes to healthcare and disease, ‘prevention is always better than cure’. So in terms of auditory health, one should not expose one’s ears to loud noises in whichever form it might be. Our auditory nerves can only take up to 85 decibels, above that can lead to not just tinnitus but permanent hearing loss.

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