Sodium Valproate, Perfect Pitch, and Tinnitus

Discussion in 'Support' started by Ed209, Nov 29, 2019.

    1. Ed209

      Ed209 Member Podcast Patron Benefactor Ambassador Hall of Fame

      Tinnitus Since:
      There is a study that was conducted in 2013 that investigated whether neuroplasticity could be aided by sodium valproate. It is a well-known fact amongst professional musicians that perfect pitch, or absolute pitch, cannot be learned as an adult. It is believed that the ability of the brain to learn this skill is limited to the first two years of life when the development of the brain is literally exploding. It is estimated that around 1 in 10,000 have this ability, and most of the people that do are from musical backgrounds. This indicates that the brain has the ability to learn sound as it does colours, but it must be done in the very early stages of life before this window of opportunity is lost. The study found that sodium valproate could help adults reactivate this learning processing.

      I’ll add an excerpt below along with a link to the study:

      Until now we had no mechanistic account of the neural processes underlying the critical period of AP. More generally, we have lacked human experimental models with which to measure the potential for a compound to facilitate neuroplasticity in the adult human brain. This study provides the “proof-of-concept” for the possibility to restore neuroplasticity using a drug by offering evidence for a possible effect of VPA on AP perception. In confirmation of our hypothesis, AP performance varied according to treatment condition. Normal male volunteers performed significantly better on a test of AP after 2 weeks of VPA treatment than after 2 weeks of placebo.

      What I found interesting about this is the correlation between the sound pathways of the brain and the increase in neuroplasticity. Maybe there could be a way of using something like this in a coordinated effort with bi-modal stimulation to increase it’s effectiveness?

      BTW, this is just me thinking out loud and being inquisitive. DO NOT try and acquire sodium valproate because of this post as it’s known to be a cause of tinnitus as well.

      However, with a little investigation, you can actually see that this drug is documented to have provided positive results for a certain subset of tinnitus patients.

      Again, I’ll put some excerpts below along with a link to their source:

      A 53 year old man with viral cardiomyopathy developed severe (60 dB) tinnitus after bilateral temporal lobe strokes. Various treatments including masking and diazepam were unhelpful. Carbamazepine (200 mg nightly) was effective but was withdrawn due to progressive hyponatraemia (120 mM after two weeks of therapy), followed by the rapid recurrence of tinnitus. Sodium valproate (200 mg twice daily) was also promptly effective in suppressing tinnitus, and was well tolerated until his death due to cardiac arrhythmia one month later.

      In part due to its diverse aetiology, pharmacotherapy of tinnitus has met with very limited success.2 4 Uncontrolled trials in the French3 and Japanese5 literature have indicated benefit from sodium valproate in selected patients, but its use seems not to have been described in English apart from a specialist monograph.2 Tinnitus loudness5 and sensorineural pathology3 but not lignocaine response5 seem to predict response. Valproate may also differ from carbamazepine in that it seems better tolerated in an unselected tinnitus population.3 Controlled studies of valproate for this common, often debilitating4 condition seem warranted.

      Another drug, sodium valproate (Depakene®) that is in general used for treatment of seizures, bipolar disorders, and mood disorders and depression has had some use in treatment of some forms of tinnitus.


      I have recently been put on to Epilim (Sodium Valproate) 2 x 100mg per day, for the ever so beautiful (sarcasm), bipolar disorder. Anyhow, I have noticed a reduction in my long term Tinnitus, that was caused from hearing loss. At times, it seems to be gone.

      Forty seven patients with tinnitus were given sodium valproate (400mg orally twice a day) after evaluating the effect of intravenous lidocaine (40-60mg). With lidocaine injection, 19 of 47 patients had complete relief from tinnitus, 19 had partial relief (over 30%), and 9 had no relief Of 38 patients who took sodium valproate over two weeks, one patients had excellent relief (over 80% disappearance of tinnitus by subjective evaluation), 8 had good relief (50-80% disappearance), 16 had partial relief (20-50% disappearance), and 13 had no relief. The effect of sodium valproate correlated with the effect of lidocaine and serum level of sodium valproate. It was considered that the efficacy of sodium valproate would increase when used in combined therapy with other drugs or therapies.

      Take note of the part in bold.

      Sodium valproate is believed to increase GABA in the brain and prevent electrical signals building up in the neurons.

      (sorry about the resolution)

      Let me just restate that this is just me being curious. I'm not advocating that anyone go out and take sodium valproate. Also, bear in mind that this is a simplistic view of a complex question, but I thought it was worth posting.
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    2. JohnAdams

      JohnAdams Member Benefactor Hall of Fame

      Tinnitus Since:
      May 1st 2018
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      Aspirin Toxicity/Possibly Noise
      This is prescription only. Someone here needs to get a doctor to prescribe it to them off label and report back ASAP.


      OH NO! Diarrhoea! You're gonna need your D-Pants™.
    3. jay777

      jay777 Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      benzo/ headphones
      Epilim (Sodium Valproate)
    4. AUTHOR

      Ed209 Member Podcast Patron Benefactor Ambassador Hall of Fame

      Tinnitus Since:
      My initial post was written in a rush earlier and I realise now that I never mentioned what perfect pitch (absolute pitch) actually is - for those who may be unaware. Essentially, it is a skill that some develop whereby they can identify and name any pitch, instantly. This includes all environmental sounds. Some are so good at it that they are as accurate, or even more accurate, than a tuner. They can tell how many degrees sharp or flat a note may be, for example.

      What I found interesting from the study is that they demonstrated that a learning process of the brain, that is known to be switched off in early childhood, could actually be reactivated somewhat. The fact that this is in regards to how the brain processes and maps sound interested me even more because of the tinnitus angle. What if the brain could be taught to reverse the maladaptive plasticity of tinnitus? Could this drug be paired with another therapy to help make that happen?

      I searched for a video that could explain perfect pitch in more detail and I found a great one. I’ve seen some of Rick Beato’s videos in the past and I personally think he’s an engaging talker. What surprised me is that he actually mentions the sodium valproate study towards the end. If this kind of thing interests you, I strongly suggest watching the whole thing, or at least from circa 6 minutes onwards.

      Why Adults Can't Develop Perfect Pitch
      • Informative Informative x 1
    5. Bartoli

      Bartoli Member

      Tinnitus Since:
      2009,worsened 2019
      Cause of Tinnitus:
      @Ed209 During my musical studies I had a friend with perfect pitch. Interestingly, both his sister and father had it. His sister wasn't a musician but could still name the notes as she knew some theory. I didn't know it was so rare.

      Also, my GP suggested to try carbamazepine but I decided not to because of the possible side effects. For what it's worth...
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    6. AUTHOR

      Ed209 Member Podcast Patron Benefactor Ambassador Hall of Fame

      Tinnitus Since:
      Yea, that’s really cool and correlates with what’s known about perfect pitch, which is that it’s far more prevalent in musical families and countries that speak tonal languages. The fact his sister wasn’t a musician wouldn’t have mattered, as it’s the exposure to complex music as a child that is the important ingredient and not formal training.

      I’ve only ever met one person who had perfect pitch.
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