Sensori-neural hearing loss (SNHL) is a common disorder which is caused by a dysfunction of the components of the inner ear, which mainly include the cochlea and the auditory nerve. Impaired hearing may result from biochemical, metabolic, vascular, hematologic or endocrine causes. Hearing loss may also be genetically acquired, and may be associated with other abnormalities in the body.
The Ayurvedic treatment of SNHL is aimed at treating the known cause of the condition, and improving the structural and functional integrity of the inner ear and the central nervous system. Medicines like Saarivadi- Vati, Panch-Tikta-Ghrut-Guggulu, Punarnavadi-Guggulu, and Maha-Rasnadi-Guggulu are used for symptomatic treatment of the inner ear. Maha-Manjishthadi-Qadha, Saarivasav, Arogya-Vardhini, Punarnavadi-Mandur, Gokshuradi-Guggulu, Chandraprabha-Vati and Dashmoolarishta are used to treat the various causes of this condition. Herbal medicines like Gokshur (Tribulus terrestris), Amalaki (Emblica officinalis), Guduchi (Tinospora cordifolia), Pippali (Piper longum), Marich (Piper nigrum), Haritaki (Terminalia chebula), Punarnava (Boerhaavia diffusa), Kutki (Picrorrhiza kurroa), Manjishtha (Rubia cordifolia) and Saariva (Hemidesmus indicus) are also very useful for this purpose.
Medicines like Tapyadi-Loh, Ekangveer-Ras, Vat-Gajankush-Ras, Maha-Vat-Vidhvans-Ras, Bruhat-Vat-Chintamani, Abhrak-Bhasma, Trivang-Bhasma, Kaishor-Guggulu and Sinhanaad-Guggulu are used to strengthen and improve the functioning of the auditory nerve and the central nervous system. Herbal medicines like Yashtimadhuk (Glycyrrhiza glabra), Mandukparni (Centella asiatica), Haridra (Curcuma longa), Rasna (Pluchea lanceolata), Guggulu (Commiphora mukul) and Ashwagandha (Withania somnifera) are used to heal and regenerate damaged nerve-cells, thus improving nerve function.
Immunomodulatory medicines like Suvarna-Bhasma, Suvarna-Malini-Vasant, Abhrak-Bhasma, Bhrungraj (Eclipta alba), Tulsi (Ocimum sanctum), Brahmi (Bacopa monnieri), and Jatamansi (Nardostachys jatamansi) are used to reduce the deleterious effects of stress and to boost the immune status of the body. This helps in early improvement in SNHL, and prevents further deterioration of this condition.
It is also important to take into consideration other associated abnormalities in the body. In such situations, the treatment is aimed at healing the body tissues. More commonly, medicines which act on the “Rakta”, “Mansa” and “Meda” dhatus (tissues) are used. These medicines include Patol (Trichosanthe dioica), Patha (Cissampelos pareira), Musta (Cyperus rotundus), Nimba (Azadirachta indica), Triphala (Three Fruits), Draksha (Vitis vinifera) and Kutaj (Holarrhina antidysentrica). Correction of abnormalities in the body tissues indirectly helps in improvement in hearing by reducing the dysfunction of the inner ear.
Patients affected with SNHL often present with no obvious cause for the condition, or may give a confusing history. A typical case history will adequately drive home this point. A thirty-six year old female came for treatment of SNHL of both ears, with more hearing deficit of the left ear. She reported that this problem started after coming back from her native place, where she had an episode of influenza, and had also received a minor injury on the left side of her face, to which she attributed her symptoms. She was treated for her hearing deficit, keeping these obvious causes in mind. However, when she did not report any benefit even after 6 weeks of treatment, a more detailed history was taken, with direct questioning for any other possible causes for her condition. She then reported that she had worked for some time with a construction company, where a large amount of drilling work was in progress. Unable to withstand the noise, she had left the job in two weeks. She was then given different treatment in the light of this new knowledge and she recovered completely with four months of treatment.
Surgery, hearing aids, and speech and language therapy are the currently accepted interventions in the management of SNHL. Ayurvedic herbal treatment can be used as an alternative or supportive therapeutic modality to give better, quicker, or additional benefits to individuals affected with SNHL.