Medicinal applications of marijuana and marijuana-derived products is an emerging topic of interest for many chronic conditions.
Tinnitus, is no exception. Yet, animal models of tinnitus suggest that agonist of cannabinoid receptors may enhance tinnitus, not reduce it. Nonetheless, animal studies of tinnitus are highly limited in their translation to the human condition and consideration of comorbidities (e.g., stress, attention, sleep disturbance). No randomized control trials have been completed in humans and no epidemiological data exists to inform this relationship (until now).
Recently, Qian and Alyono (2019) performed the first epidemiological study to examine the relationship between tinnitus and reported marijuana use. Data for the study were acquired from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES), a large nationally representative survey of health in the United States. Logistic regression analysis was completed examining the relationship between marijuana use, tinnitus, tinnitus severity, and tinnitus frequency adjusting for age, sex, hearing loss, noise exposure, depression, anxiety, tobacco smoking, salicylate use, and cardiometabolic diseases.
The results showed that monthly use of marijuana was significantly related to increased report of tinnitus (ringing, roaring, buzzing in past 12 months for at least five minutes) and experiencing bothersome tinnitus. However, tinnitus was not related to frequency or quantity of marijuana use; and in persons with tinnitus, marijuana use was not significantly related to tinnitus severity or frequency. The study was limited by its cross-sectional design and may be confounded by persons that use marijuana as a self-medication to help their tinnitus or related comorbidities.
In summary, the study found that persons that use marijuana have a higher odds of experiencing tinnitus at least one time for five minutes in the past year, but no significant relationship to tinnitus severity or frequency was observed.
Qian ZJ, Alyono JC. (2019). An association between marijuana use and tinnitus. Am J Oto. November 13.