Your Ears Are For More Than Just Hearing
Almost every health concern I hear from my more mature patients boils down to one thing: Staying independent. Mental decline, fractures, loss of hearing or sight all have one effect in common. They rob you of some degree of independence. In many cases, they end it altogether.
That’s why you’ll be glad to hear about one simple secret that could help you stay independent years longer.
Perhaps best of all, it’s a side effect of preserving another important aspect of your good health.
Your Ears Are for More Than Hearing
Deep inside your ears sit your sensors for hearing and balance. Two tiny organs called the utricle and saccule – along with the semicircular canals – make up your vestibular system. This is your center of balance. And it’s not just close to the organs of your inner ear… it’s just about as delicate, too.
For example, the canals in your cochlea – part of your auditory system – contain tiny “hairs” that respond to sound. Nearby, the semicircular canals contain tiny hairs that sense movement.
These hairs are extremely delicate. Loud noises, trauma, and even certain drugs can damage them. In the case of the cochlea, damaged hairs result in hearing loss. Damage to the hairs in your semicircular canals leads to a loss of balance.
That’s a very quick-and-simple explanation. But why am I telling you all this? Well…
By the Time You Hit 40, You’re Losing Your Independence
Massachusetts Eye and Ear is a Harvard Medical School affiliate. They’re also home to the world’s largest hearing and vision research centers. And doctors there recently discovered something you should know.
Your sense of balance begins to break down by your 40th birthday.
They also discovered your sensory thresholds for motion double about every 10 years after you turn 40. In other words, at 50, it takes twice as much movement before you notice you’re off balance as when you were 40. And, at 60, it takes 4 times the motion than at 40.
This helps explain why so many mature adults tend to teeter. And why falls are so common. Which brings us to the scientists’ third – and most disturbing – discovery.
Based on numbers from previous studies, as many as 152,000 Americans die every year from balance-related problems.1 That would put vestibular break-down in the #3 slot as a cause of death.
But here’s where being linked to the inner ear gives you an advantage. Some of the same secrets that defend your hearing also appear to do the same for your sense of balance.
In other words, you may be able to stay steady on your feet – and independent – for years longer.
Call in the Antioxidants
Quite a few studies seem to link vitamin D intake with fewer falls and fewer broken bones. But there’s also research that suggests antioxidants can help.
Take vitamin E, for example.
In 2003, Italian scientists split animal subjects into four groups.
One group got no treatment. These were the control group. The 2nd group was given a common drug known to cause inner ear damage, along with corn oil. The 3rd group got the drug only. The 4th group was given vitamin E along with the drug.
Both the drug group and the drug-plus-corn-oil group suffered hearing losses and balance problems. But the group that also took vitamin E suffered far less damage.2
In a similar experiment the following year, subjects given vitamin E with the damaging drug maintained better hearing and balance.3
And vitamin E isn’t the only antioxidant that promotes inner ear health. And defense against potent drugs isn’t the only benefit they offer.
The Amino Acid Defense
N-Acetyl-Cysteine (NAC) is a form of the amino acid cysteine. Your body easily converts NAC into cysteine… which it can then convert into glutathione, one of the most potent antioxidants in your body.
Doctors suggest NAC for a variety of complaints – largely because of its antioxidant potency. But studies also show NAC has other uses.
Scientists at the University of Buffalo bred mice with a gene mutation that made them unable to recycle glutathione. These mice quickly showed signs similar to age-related hearing loss… as well as signs of balance and orientation problems.
But when they gave NAC to the same type of mice, they showed no signs of hearing loss. Plus, they didn’t display any of the behaviors typical of a loss of balance and orientation.4
A 2014 study published in the journal PLoS ONE showed animals suffering from brain injuries – similar to a mild concussion in humans – recovered more quickly when they took NAC shortly after the injury.
The same scientists also tested NAC on humans in battlefield conditions. They gave some soldiers suffering from blast-induced brain injuries the results were remarkable. The NAC group’s thinking abilities, hearing, and balance all bounced back better and faster.5
One More Promising Secret
According to Japanese researchers, free radical damage may be a major player in the breakdown of balance with age. The researchers point out that antioxidants that work especially well in cells’ mitochondria – the “energy factories” of cells – may prove helpful.
This is because animal studies show these antioxidants effectively defend the tiny “hairs” in the semicircular canals.6
One of the most potent of these antioxidants is Alpha-Lipoic Acid – or ALA.
Most antioxidants are either fat- or water-soluble. ALA is both. That means your body can use it do defend against free radical attack anywhere. This makes it the most versatile antioxidant in your body.
And because it’s also a mitochondrial antioxidant, ALA is a key to cell survival. Because cells that can’t make energy soon dies off.
So how do you take advantage of these potentially balance-boosting antioxidants? Interestingly, the same way you would to defend your hearing.
What’s Good for Your Ears
Hearing and balance may be two very different functions. But their key sensing organs sit side-by-side. Damaging the one (hearing) often damages the other. And, in many ways, defending the one also defends the other.
So… taking care of your hearing may be the easiest way to maintain your balance. And your independence.
Tympanol, Best Life Herbals’ premier hearing formula, contains all three balance-boosting antioxidants mentioned here. Plus, it contains vinpocetine and Ginkgo biloba – both of which boost circulation to the delicate organs in your head.
Yours in continued good health,
Best Life Herbals
1 Rey, M.C. B., et al, “Vestibular Perceptual Thresholds Increase above the Age of 40,” Front. Neurol. Oct 3 2016.
2 Fetoni, A.R., et al, “Protective effects of alpha-tocopherol against gentamicin-induced Oto-vestibulo toxicity: an experimental study,” Acta Otolaryngol. Jan 2003; 123(2): 192-197.
3 Sergi, B., et al, “The role of antioxidants in protection from ototoxic drugs,” Acta Otolaryngol Suppl. May 2004; (552): 42-45.
4 Ding, D., et al, “N-acetyl-cysteine prevents age-related hearing loss and the progressive loss of inner hair cells in γ-glutamyl transferase 1 deficient mice,” Aging (Albany NY). Apr 2016; 8(4): 730-750.
5 Eakin, K., et al, “Efficacy of N-Acetyl Cysteine in Traumatic Brain Injury,” PLoS ONE. 2014; 9(4): e90617.
6 Iwasaki, S. and Yamasoba, T., “Dizziness and Imbalance in the Elderly: Age-related Decline in the Vestibular System,” Aging Dis. Feb 2015; 6(1): 38-47.