The research on Panax ginseng’s ability to repair hearing damage is compelling. A number of tests with Korean Red Ginseng suggest that the Ginsenosides in ginseng can protect ear cells from damage caused by cisplatin and gentamicin, two medications shown to have a negative impact on hearing.
Hearing damage caused by excessive noise has also been shown to improve after treatment with the Ginsenoside metabolite called compound K. Below, we’ll look into scientific research on the topic.
Ginseng & Hearing Research
Study 1: Protective effect of Korean red ginseng extract on cisplatin ototoxicity in HEI-OC1 auditory cells. Extracts of the ginseng plant have been shown to have a number of beneficial effects in reversing pathological and physiological changes brought about by stress and aging.
For this reason, researchers working out of the Department of Otolaryngology at Korea University College of Medicine decided to test ginseng’s ability to treat hearing loss and tinnitus. Because Cisplatin (an antineoplastic drug) can result in hearing loss after prolonged use, it was used to test the hypothesis.
The ginseng extract also stopped the cell death that occurs in the auditory system after taking cisplatin. The researchers were able to conclude that Panax ginseng has the ability to preserve hearing in those taking cisplatin, with the potential implication that ginseng supplementation could also fight against hearing loss that occurs as a result of aging.
Study 2: Korean red ginseng prevents gentamicin-induced hearing loss in rats. Another Korean study out of Ajou University School of Medicine was designed to test whether or not Panax ginseng supplementation could prevent hearing loss brought about by the antibiotic drug gentamicin (GM). In the study, 35 rats were separated into four groups.
The first group received daily injections of 160 mg/kg of GM for five days. The second group was given the same daily injection of GM, along with a Korean Red ginseng supplement dosed at 500 mg/kg. The third group was only given the ginseng extract, and the fourth was a control group.
At the end of the study, the researchers found that the group who received the combination of GM and ginseng had significantly less hearing loss compared to the group that only received injections of GM.
The results of this study were statistically strong enough for the research team to conclude that the Ginsenosides present in the ginseng extract can help preserve hearing normally lost as a result of GM injections.
Study 3: Post-exposure treatment with ginsenoside compound K ameliorates auditory functional injury associated with noise-induced hearing loss in mice. Nambu University ran a study to test ginseng’s ability to treat noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL). Because other studies seem to indicate that the compounds found in Panax ginseng can help repair the sensory hair cells of the cochlea, it was hypothesized that these same compounds could treat the damage brought about by excessive noise damage.
This study was also able to isolate the Ginsenoside compounds Rh1 and Compound K, allowing a more detailed understanding of how ginseng is able to fight hearing loss.
Treatment with the ginseng extract was started 24 hours after noise exposure, and was continued for seven days. A number of metrics were used to test changes in hearing ability, including measurement of cochlear hairs.
Conclusion While human studies on Panax ginseng’s ability to treat hearing loss are limited, the above studies make a compelling case that Ginsenosides have a potential for application in a number of hearing related conditions.
Temporary hearing loss is normally occurs when sounds are unable to pass into the inner ear. For example, earwax build-up can be removed by drops, a syringe or suction. Hearing loss caused by a bacterial infection can be treated with antibiotics. Surgery can be used to drain a fluid build-up, repair a perforated eardrum, or correct problems with the hearing bones.
Hearing loss caused by damage to the inner ear or to the nerves that transmit sound to brain (sensorineural hearing loss) is permanent. If your hearing is impaired, treatment can improve your hearing and quality of life. There is a variety of hearing aids available depending on where the issue is and what options are available for that cause.