Ménière’s disease is an inner ear disorder characterized by vertigo (feeling as if the room around you
is spinning around), tinnitus, and hearing loss.
Dizziness is the sensation that you are spinning or that your surroundings are spin- ning around you. Sometimes the sensation is mild and passes quickly, but it can also be so intense or prolonged that you may lose your balance and fall. Understandably, dizziness frequently produces nausea and vomiting.
Dizziness is not a disease in itself. Like pain, it’s a symptom of an underlying prob- lem, and any course of treatment for dizziness must begin with an investigation into the possible causes. Because the body keeps its balance through a complicated inter- play of several organs, including the ears, the eyes, the nerves, and the muscles, ﬁnd- ing the source of dizziness is not always easy.
Fortunately, dizziness often has its roots in a relatively minor cause. We’ve all expe- rienced a spinning sensation when standing up too quickly after sitting or lying down for a long period of time; it may happen in airplanes, where there’s less oxygen than most of us are used to. Occasional episodes of this kind are nothing to worry about. (If you experience it frequently, however, see a doctor.) Dizziness may also be the result of a fever, motion sickness, hyperventilation, a buildup of a wax in the ear canal, or a reaction to alcohol or drugs—factors that are either easily treated or temporary.
Sometimes, however, the underlying cause takes more effort to address. High blood pressure, anxiety, arteriosclerosis, food allergies, anemia, low blood sugar, hypothy- roidism, and diabetes can all lead to dizziness. If nausea, vomiting, and a loss of hear- ing accompany the dizziness, you may have Ménière’s disease, a disorder of the inner ear. In rare cases, dizziness is a warning sign of neurological disease or brain cancer.
If you experience dizziness, ﬁrst rule out the obvious causes: motion sickness, fever and infection, and drug or alcohol use. In the case of motion sickness or fever, the dizziness will pass when travel or the illness ends. If your problem is related to alco- hol or street drugs, stop using them; if you ﬁnd that you can’t, see the Substance Abuse section. For dizziness related to prescription medications, contact your doctor about alternatives.
If you can’t immediately determine the cause on your own, see your doctor. He or she will take a thorough medical history to determine the most likely causes and will probably run a battery of tests. As you and your doctor search for the proper diagno- sis, you can use the complementary therapies described further on to relieve your symptoms and reduce your chances of triggering an episode. In some cases, these ther- apies may resolve the problem altogether.
• Spinning sensation
• Nausea and vomiting
• Loss of hearing
Dozens of disorders and conditions can cause dizziness. Following are some of the most important.
• Returning to a standing position
after a long period of sitting or lying
down (orthostatic hypotension)
• Motion sickness
• Medications, street drugs, or alcohol
• Wax build-up in the ear canal
• A disorder of the inner ear (such as
• Low blood sugar
• Circulatory disorders, such as high blood pressure or arteriosclerosis
• Neurological disorders
• Brain tumors
• Allergies (environmental and food)
The following tests help assess possible reasons for dizziness: Anemia—blood
Low or high blood sugar—blood, urine
Blood pressure—have your doctor check for orthostatic hypotension
Thyroid disorder—blood or saliva
Inner ear testing—by an ENT doctor
Food allergies/sensitivities—blood or electrodermal
Nutritional deﬁciencies can cause dizziness, and they can also cause some conditions that lead to dizziness. Eat meals that are based on a wide variety of basic, whole foods that you have prepared yourself. Keep your blood-sugar levels even by planning sev- eral small meals throughout the day, rather than three large ones. If you’re nauseated, you may ﬁnd that this strategy helps relieve your discomfort.
Some cases of dizziness have been linked to a deﬁciency of B vitamins, so add brewer’s yeast to your meals. Other good sources of B vitamins are brown rice and leafy green vegetables. These vitamins will also help relieve anxiety.
Dizziness is sometimes caused by impaired circulation to the brain. Improve your blood ﬂow by adding garlic, onions, and cayenne to your meals.
Food to Avoid
A response to a food allergen can cause dizziness. Read the entry on Food Allergies, and follow the elimination diet discussed there, to determine whether a food is the rea- son for your problem.
Even if your symptoms are not directly related to alcohol, avoid it. Alcohol can upset the inner ear and can aggravate other conditions that cause dizziness.
Excess sodium seems to affect the inner ear. Restrict your intake by avoiding processed, canned, or packaged foods, and don’t use table salt to season your meals.
Avoid candy, cakes, cookies, and other sweets. These products will cause your blood-sugar levels to spike and then plummet, with dizziness as a possible result.
It’s possible that chemicals added to food affect the intricate system that produces our sense of equilibrium. Avoid processed and junk food, along with any food made with additives.
Super Seven Prescriptions—Dizziness
Super Prescription #1 Ginkgo biloba
Take 120 mg two to three times daily. Ginkgo improves circulation through the inner ear.
Super Prescription #2 Ginger (Zingiber ofﬁcinale)
Take 300 to 500 mg or 2 to 3 ml three times daily. This ancient remedy is used for nausea and dizziness.
Super Prescription #3 Homeopathic Combination Dizziness and Nausea For- mula
Take a 30C potency twice daily to see if there is improvement. If there are no changes within three days, pick another remedy that best matches your symptoms from the Homeopathy section.
Super Prescription #4 Ashwagandha (Withania somniferum)
Take 1,000 mg twice daily. If dizzy spells are related to nervous exhaustion or over- work, this tonic herb soothes and strengthens the frazzled mind.
Super Prescription #5 Panax ginseng
Take 100 mg two to three times daily of a product standardized to between 4 and
7 percent ginsenosides. This herb strengthens the adrenal glands. Low adrenal func- tion may be the root problem, resulting in low blood pressure and the accompa- nying dizziness.
Super Prescription #6 B complex
Take a 50 mg complex twice daily. It combats the effects of stress that may be asso- ciated with dizziness.
Super Prescription #7 High-potency multivitamin
Take as directed on the container. If you are anemic, choose a formula that con- tains iron. It provides a base of nutritional support.
Pick the remedy that best matches your symptoms in this section. Take a 6x, 12x, 6C, or 30C potency twice daily for two weeks to see if there are any positive results. After you notice improvement, stop taking the remedy, unless symptoms return. Consul- tation with a homeopathic practitioner is advised.
Aconitum Napellus is for sudden dizziness associated with anxiety, panic, or shock. Your pulse may be rapid, and you may even fear that you’re going to die.
Bryonia (Bryonia alba) is for dizziness that occurs when you get up from a sitting position, turn your head, or bend over. You are irritable and have a great thirst for cold drinks.
Cocculus is for motion sickness and the dizziness that occurs from looking out the window. Nauseousness and/or vomiting may accompany the dizziness.
Conium is helpful when dizziness is worse from lying down or turning over in bed. Dizziness occurs from moving the head or the eyes.
Gelsemium (Gelsemium sempervirens) is for dizziness caused by a viral infection, making a person feel drowsy and droopy. It is also used for dizziness that follows stage fright.
Nux Vomica (Strychnos nux vomica) will ease dizziness that’s brought on by a hangover or the ill effects of spoiled/contaminated food.
Pulsatilla (Pulsatilla pratensis) is for dizziness that comes on when you’re in a warm or stuffy room. You feel worse when lying down. There is relief from walking or sitting in the open air.
When you feel dizziness coming on, sit down in a comfortable place, focus on a nonmoving object, and work the following points, all located at the top of your head: Governing Vessel 19, 20, and 21. Know these points so that you can use them when- ever you need to, without having to look them up.
A general massage is an excellent way to stimulate circulation throughout the body. You can also practice a simple head and neck rub at home or see a massage therapist.
Work the areas corresponding to the eye/ear and the neck.
Try constitutional hydrotherapy to improve circulation to the brain.
Lavender combats the sensation of vertigo. For immediate relief, place a vial of the oil directly under your nose and inhale deeply.
Ginger oil will reduce nausea. You can inhale the oil directly from the vial or use it in an abdominal massage.
Black pepper, eucalyptus, and rosemary increase circulation. You can use these oils separately or in combination; add them to a bath or dilute them with a carrier oil and use in a massage.
Essential oils are perhaps most famous for their stress-relieving properties. If you’d beneﬁt from oils with calming properties, try the following: lavender, bergamot, ylang ylang, geranium, or rose. You can use these oils in any preparation you like, but you should avoid using any one for an extended period of time, as you may grow immune to its effects.
Anxiety and stress can cause dizziness. Even if your symptoms are caused by an underlying disorder like diabetes or hypothyroidism, stress can aggravate the prob- lem and trigger an attack. That said, you should be wary of any doctor who diagnoses you with stress-related dizziness without ﬁrst checking for physiological causes. This misdiagnosis frequently happens to women, who are told their dizziness is “just stress,” when, in fact, an underlying disorder is at work.
General Stress-Reduction Therapies
Meditation, stretching, and mild exercise can help improve the symptoms of dizziness.
Bach Flower Remedies
Select the appropriate remedy, and place 10 drops of the liquid under your tongue. Hold the drops in place for thirty seconds and swallow. Use as often as needed.
If you are prone to panic attacks, keep a bottle of Rescue Remedy on hand. At the ﬁrst sign of overwhelming stress or anxiety, a few drops will produce a calmer state of mind.
Aspen will help if your dizziness is produced by fears that you can’t name. You may feel a generalized sense of anxiety, rather than stress over a speciﬁc problem.
If you are shy and withdrawn and are able to name your fears but are unable to talk about them with others, take Mimulus.
Those whose anxiety is caused by worries for other people will beneﬁt from Red
• When you feel dizzy, sit down and focus your gaze on a ﬁxed object until the sensation passes. This technique will shorten the duration of the dizziness and reduce nausea. Obviously, it will also prevent you from losing your balance and falling.
• Smoking inhibits circulation and can lead to dizziness. If you smoke, quit. Even if you don’t smoke, you must avoid exposure to smoky rooms or bars.
• If you are prone to dizziness, avoid sudden changes in your posture. If you’ve been lying down or sitting for a long time, don’t jump to your feet. Get up slowly.