Update: 12/2/19. Tinnitus is a health issue I've been dealing with for several years. Cannabidiol (CBD) is one of the most popular alternative treatments for a variety of health issues. How many? You name it, they claim it. So, does CBD help tinnitus/Meniere's disease? I recommend caution for now. Below, I'll show you the research on CBD for tinnitus. After reading this, I think you will agree, it may not just be a waste of money -it may be much worse. Read the other tinnitus reviews in this series for more insights. Here's my podcast on CBD research and side effects.
What Is CBD?
As the name suggests, cannabidiol (CBD) is a molecule in the cannabis plant (Cannabis sativa). Unlike THC, CBD does not get people “high.” Because hemp-derived cannabidiol has become very popular for treating all sorts of health problems (arthritis, depression, PTSD, high blood pressure, etc), it was just a matter of time before people started wondering if it also helped ringing in the ears caused by Meniere's disease or other forms of tinnitus.
The reasoning is that tinnitus has been described as a form of “sensory epilepsy” where brain cells in the auditory portion of the brain become hyperactive, resulting in sounds which only the sufferer can hear. Cannabidiol has been investigated as an epilepsy treatment. Some studies appear to show cannabidiol can reduce the frequency of epileptic seizures.
If tinnitus is a form of sensory epilepsy, might CBD reduce ringing in the ears as it appears to reduce epileptic seizures?
While there are some testimonials this may be true, I think jumping to conclusions may be a mistake.
Let's look at the research.
CBD Tinnitus Research
Currently, there are no human studies of cannabidiol (CBD) and tinnitus. The reason is researchers have not yet given it to people with Meniere's disease or other forms of ringing in the ears to see if it works or doesn't. So far, research has only involved rodents (rats and mice).
This fact alone should make people not want to try it due to the lack of research. That said, preliminary evidence suggests cannabidiol may be something Meniere's disease sufferers want to avoid for now.
Researchers in New Zealand took 50 rats and exposed them to either an “acoustic trauma” (loud noise) or nothing. The rats were given either a TCH/CBD drug or a placebo. They wanted to see if the THC/CBD drug combination reduced the chances the loud noise caused hearing loss and/or ringing in the ears.
To the surprise of researchers, the THC/cannabidiol combination seemed to increase the chances of getting tinnitus. Rats exposed to loud noises that received the THC/CBD drug seemed worse than rats that did not get the drug combination.
To quote the researchers “The results suggest that cannabinoids may promote the development of tinnitus, especially when there is pre-existing hearing damage.”
If you prefer to watch, here's a quick video I created
What Does This Mean?
As I see it, this study has some problems.
For one thing, it was a rat study. I prefer human research. In addition, it involved a combination of THC and CBD. So we can't tell if it was the THC or cannabidiol – or both – which increased tinnitus after exposure to loud noise.
That said, I suffer from Meniere's disease myself. I know how annoying /maddening it can be. Given the possibility of cannabidiol -or anything- aggravating ringing in the ears, I would not take the chance until it's proven to be safe and effective in humans.
Is CBD Bad For Tinnitus?
At this point, nobody can say if CBD helps or hurts tinnitus. All we have is a study of rats that seems to show cannabidiol (combined with THC) may make Meniere's disease and other forms of ringing in the ears more likely. I understand how some will say its worth the risk. For me, I will wait for human proof. I won't do anything that may make my tinnitus worse.