A homeopathic treatment based on nutritional supplements assists in reducing the symptoms of a condition affecting more than 50 million Americans.

Robert C. Martin, DC, CNN, DACBM, ABAAHP

Ringing, whistling, roaring, and chirping. These are some of the descriptions that sufferers of tinnitus give their symptoms. The condition that affects about 50 million Americans—twice as many who have hearing loss—can range from an occasional to an intermittent to a constant annoyance. “Tinnitus is on the rise and part of the reason is because of what I refer to as acoustic shock or loud noise—noise beyond the capacity to adapt,” says Robert C. Martin, DC, CCN, DACBM, ABAAHP, a consultant with several nutraceutical companies and an Arizona-based internationally syndicated radio talk show host.

Tinnitus can cause loss of sleep or depression, and interfere with concentration. In severe cases, there have even been instances of suicide related to tinnitus. And for all the people it affects, tinnitus is a medical enigma with no cure, only drugs that mask the symptoms.

However, there is a homeopathic treatment—which Martin helped to develop—that has been found to reduce symptoms and support hearing acuity. The product, RingStop, which was released to the market in February 2002, is distributed by E-A-R Inc.

Volumes of Symptoms
As the world gets noisier, tinnitus will continue to rise, particularly in countries like the United States where acoustic shock related to everyday living such as construction noise, traffic, and loud music is common. This shock, which Martin credits as a major cause of tinnitus, is cumulative. But tinnitus can also be caused by factors other than acoustic shock. “[Tinnitus] can be a symptom of ear wax, it can be a symptom of infection like in the sinus area or the ear,” he says. “Stress can be another factor. There are more than 150 drugs today that can cause ringing in the ears…ranging from aspirin to certain types of antibiotics to antihistamines to antidepressants [and substances like] caffeine, alcohol, and tobacco.”

No matter the specific cause, Martin says, it is environment and not age that is responsible for tinnitus. “When you look at underdeveloped or Third World nations, they’ve gone in and done audiometric testing on people in their 70s and 80s and they have intact hearing,” he says. “Tinnitus is not known, it just doesn’t exist there, so we know that hearing loss and tinnitus are not caused by age necessarily.”

And though it is a serious condition adversely affecting quality of life, Martin does not categorize tinnitus as a disease. “It’s compensatory; it’s the body’s attempt to protect or alert like a light on the dashboard of your car,” he says. “The body is sending a message, a strong message that you’ve got problems and you best do something about them. Tinnitus is really any abnormal sound a person perceives that does not originate from some external source; in other words, their brain is actually creating the noise, compensating for something that has been disrupted or deranged.”

Happy Accident
Like many discoveries, Martin was inspired with the idea for RingStop quite by accident. “I was preparing for my radio show one day and I ran across this article about an ear, nose, and throat doctor who had been doing research studies on pigeons in which he would induce hearing loss with sound pollution or loud noises, and see if he could reverse that with nutrients,” he says. “So he gave these pigeons certain nutrients that are known to stimulate the growth of cochlear hairs and a nutrient that is also known to protect those hairs from damage due to outside forces; sure enough, within 3 to 6 months, he was able for the first time in any research to restore some of the hearing capacity and protect that group of pigeons that were getting these specific nutrients from further damage while the control group that did not get the nutrients went deaf and stayed deaf.”

When he was in private practice, Martin used several of the same nutrients to help his patients who had tinnitus—with much the same results observed in the pigeon research. Inspired by this research, Martin developed Hear All in 2000. The homeopathic treatment combined all of the nutrients he used to help his patients into one pill. RingStop, which is directed specifically at tinnitus, followed in 2002. “If a person has ringing in their ears, they should take both RingStop and Hear All, because they’re going to have hearing loss,” he says. “And if people have hearing loss, about nine out of 10 of them are going to have some ringing. These are companion products, and we are also seeing now that when people have ringing, they’re a candidate for Hear All. [RingStop] can be used therapeutically and it can be used to maintain and preserve [hearing], so it’s co-designed. RingStop gives the body the raw materials it needs in order to help manage and heal mechanisms involved in inner ear distress. So for that, RingStop provides preventive maintenance and therapy all in one.”

Because it is homeopathic, RingStop is nontoxic and made from minerals, herbs, and animal products.

Healing Time
Although RingStop has been shown to help stimulate the regrowth of damaged cilia, it is not a wonder drug that promises results immediately. Users have to exhibit some patience, because it can take 3 to 6 months for the benefits of the homeopathic remedy to become evident. And even then, there is no guarantee hearing will be helped. “This is not a panacea by any stretch of the imagination,” says Martin. “There are people with ringing who have had…it chronically. Some of them come to us and they’ve had it for 40 years. We know there are going to be people that this can’t help, who have scar tissue. There are some people who get some results, but not a complete clearing. We are now seeing people who have hope by at least taking some remedial, safe, effective, and inexpensive formula based on scientific rationale.” Martin adds that patients who are taking any medications should consult their physicians before using the product.

One of the difficulties in developing a product like RingStop is that tinnitus is different in every person, so Martin tried to address that problem when developing the remedy. “I put in all the homeopathic remedies that have ever been shown to help different forms of ringing, because some people have ringing from different causes,” says Martin. “Then I put in the supportive nutrients that also support cochlear hair growth, and the nutrients that are deficient [in the user’s diet], and the nutrients that will help auditory function in general as a base.”

Even if RingStop is ineffective, Martin points out there is no real harm done. “The worst that can happen by taking it is nothing. The best that can happen is the problem can be improved or alleviated, and for that it’s efficacious, safe, and inexpensive relative to [other products],” he says.

Changing the Marketplace
Though RingStop has been shown to be effective, its introduction was met with skepticism and E-A-R Inc’s president Gary Gordon was among the skeptical. “Before I would even let anything like this on the Web site, I had to get caught up on our knowledge of homeopathic treatments, in particular [RingStop],” he says. After doing research on homeopathic treatments, Gordon gladly added RingStop to the distribution network’s roster of goods.

This initial skepticism stemmed from a lack of training opportunities in homeopathic medicine for medical personnel including audiologists and dispensers. “Many of the people who are audiologists, hearing aid dispensers, or medical doctors need help understanding homeopathic remedies and how to properly analyze them and give them a fair chance and know what to expect,” says Gordon. Helping to change that situation is E-A-R Inc’s national and international distribution network. Its Web site attracts about 1 million visitors per month.

Since its introduction, the response has been very positive. E-A-R Inc’s booths have been mobbed at trade shows and professional conferences with people eager to buy the product. “I have had audiologists starting to offer this to patients,” says Gordon.

Best Cure Is Prevention
Though Martin sees RingStop as an effective product, he advocates seeing one’s doctor and not just relying on over-the-counter products to treat tinnitus. But even with the effectiveness of RingStop, Martin believes in a more fundamental health approach—prevention. “The first way to stop tinnitus from ever happening is to prevent it,” he says. “We don’t have that emphasis in our society, we just don’t. What we do is let the barn burn down and then worry about smoke alarms. I’m a fan of preventive care, and that means people [going into a noisy environment] should get some ear plugs or some form of ear protection.”

But even with the message of prevention, there is still a large population that can benefit and is benefiting from RingStop. “It’s gratifying to me as a [chiropractor] to have testimonials come in from people who have tried everything and have done everything, and they take this simple supplement and their tinnitus improves or completely goes away,” says Martin. “That’s the reward.”

N. L. Shepherd is a contributing writer for Hearing Products Report.