The science is still inconclusive, but many people report that a magnesium supplement reduced their tinnitus symptoms. However, it’s not currently listed as a treatment for this condition.

Anyone who’s ever dealt with tinnitus knows that this ear condition can be frustrating and in some cases disorienting.

Tinnitus is when the ears perceive noise even when none exists. In particular, the condition is hallmarked by hearing a ringing in the ears. However, people have reported experiencing other sounds such as buzzing, clicking, whistling, hissing, and roaring.

Sometimes the sounds that tinnitus can cause are referred to as phantom noises since they occur without the presence of external auditory stimuli. More importantly, the condition can be incredibly annoying as it can impact one or both ears and also interfere with daily life.

Understandably, people often look for remedies even though, to date, there’s no known cure for tinnitus. Many people rely on medications or supplements like magnesium to control symptoms. Keep reading to learn why and how well these supplements work.

While there are several confirmed treatments to manage tinnitus symptoms, the evidence for magnesium supplements is still early. We don’t know for sure whether it helps relieve tinnitus symptoms.

Magnesium is considered a beneficial mineral that the body needs, but the direct link to improving tinnitus is still limited, and in many ways, inconclusive. Factors such as the severity of a person’s condition, as well as how much magnesium is prescribed can all influence supplementation efficacy.

What does the science say?

A 2016 study looked at an overview of the most commonly used dietary supplements to treat tinnitus symptoms. Along with magnesium, researchers also followed a cohort of 1,788 tinnitus patients from 53 different countries that consumed melatonin, Ginkgo biloba, lipo-flavonoids, vitamin B12, and zinc.

Melatonin was found to aid in sleep, while Ginkgo biloba supported hearing and concentration. The others — including magnesium — either didn’t yield measurable results or led to adverse side effects.

Another 2016 study found that magnesium could be beneficial in treating tinnitus symptoms. Researchers reviewed 76 patients diagnosed with either severe or catastrophic forms of the condition as well as 86 participants with no tinnitus symptoms and gave them magnesium serum at different concentrations.

Although the amount of serum given to the study group was lower than the control group, participants with tinnitus noticed improvements. The researchers concluded that larger study groups are needed, but the treatment is promising.

A 2017 study wanted to determine if receiving magnesium supplements could restore auditory function after exposure to loud noises — a common cause of tinnitus. Although the results were promising, the study was conducted on animals.

Another alternative treatment for tinnitus

If you’re interested in alternative treatments for tinnitus, meditation has been shown to produce results in many people.

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Formally, the medical community doesn’t endorse magnesium supplements to manage tinnitus symptoms. Even the American Tinnitus Association (ATA) doesn’t recommend taking dietary supplements — including magnesium — as a cure-all solution for tinnitus symptoms.

Although the organization does note that some preliminary studies are pointing to a link between magnesium and improved ear function, they stop well short of endorsing the supplement. Also, keep in mind that dietary supplements aren’t regulated as strictly by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as both over-the-counter (OTC) or prescription medications.

Because of this, it’s easy to accidentally consume too much magnesium or select a supplement of questionable origin or quality. Likewise, if you have other preexisting conditions, consuming magnesium can exacerbate other symptoms or create new health issues.

However, the body needs magnesium to function properly. So, aiming to supplement this mineral if your daily diet is insufficient is a good idea. The National Institutes of Health (NIH) recommends that adults get between 310 to 420 milligrams (mg) per day. Consider incorporating magnesium-rich foods such as spinach, squash, black beans, pumpkin seeds, flaxseed, or quinoa.

Can magnesium worsen tinnitus?

Since research is limited on the effects of magnesium on tinnitus symptoms, it’s hard to say definitively that the mineral can make the condition worse. Anecdotally, some people have mentioned that consuming magnesium led to no improvement or a slight worsening of symptoms.

When starting a magnesium supplement, be sure to start with the lowest dose possible and monitor any change in your symptoms — for better or worse.

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For the average healthy individual, magnesium complications are unlikely if you’re getting your intake through foods. Even if you do eat too many magnesium-rich foods in a single sitting, the kidneys are capable of removing excess magnesium consumed through foods and preventing side effects.

Magnesium and prescription interactions

However, consuming too much magnesium from supplements can lead to side effects if you’re also taking medications to treat other conditions.

  • If you’re taking bisphosphonates, magnesium-rich supplements can reduce their efficacy. Avoid this risk by separating when you take your medications versus supplements by 2 hours.
  • Magnesium can make antibiotics insoluble. Either take the antibiotics at least 2 hours before or 4–6 hours after taking a magnesium supplement.
  • Magnesium supplementation can become inefficient if you’re also taking loop or thiazide diuretics. These specific drugs increase magnesium loss through the urine. If magnesium supplements have to be taken, consider speaking with your physician about switching to potassium-sparing diuretics that reduce magnesium secretion.

Don’t forget!

For best absorption and to avoid drug interactions, make sure to space out taking magnesium with other medications or fiber supplements. Always talk with your doctor before starting a new supplement.

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Supplementation side effects

Even if you don’t have other underlying conditions that require medications, taking high dosage supplements isn’t without risks.

The most common side effects are diarrhea, nausea, and cramping — usually from consuming too much magnesium carbonate, gluconate, oxide, or chloride.

Tinnitus is a frustrating and at times debilitating condition that’s known for creating noise in the ears even when no external stimuli are present. While some forms of the condition can resolve themselves or reduce symptoms with time, other people may need medications to control the symptoms.

Although magnesium is a critical mineral the body needs for auditory function, the nutrient hasn’t been fully studied to confirm if magnesium supplementation can consistently control tinnitus symptoms. Before attempting to take any supplement, always consult your physician.