Vertigo natural treatment products, remedy and suggestions by Ray Sahelian, M.D.
Feb 11 2014

Vertigo is a symptom that can occur from a number of different medical conditions. The term vertigo refers to the sensation of spinning or whirling that occurs as a result of a disturbance in balance. Most of the time vertigo is not a grave condition, but it is very important that you have a full evaluation by your doctor to make sure there are no serious causes. This is particularly true if the vertigo persists over several weeks or months or you have a sudden onset of vertigo associated with other symptoms such as double vision or symptoms of a stroke.
   Vertigo often occurs as a result of a disorder in the inner ear or the vascular system. The health of these systems reflects, in many ways, the health of the rest of the body. Hence, there is hope that if overall health improving lifestyle changes are made, vertigo symptoms could diminish. If your doctor has ruled out a serious cause of vertigo, consider the following therapeutic options to improve your overall health, which could reduce your vertigo symptoms.
   I do not claim to have definitive answers regarding the natural approach to vertigo treatment. With time I am likely to learn a lot more regarding vertigo natural treatment research, and will share what I find with the readers of this website.

Lifestyle changes
Vertigo has been associated with both high cholesterol and high blood sugar (diabetes).

Diet - Since atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries) and high blood pressure can directly or indirectly be a cause of vertigo, make dietary changes. These include getting rid of junk foods and simple sugars and white bread, and switching to eating more fish, along with fresh fruits, vegetables and whole grains. Stop or reduce sugared drinks and switch to fresh vegetable juices. For healthy diet suggestions, see this diet web page. If you have high blood pressure, see this hypertension page for ideas on how to lower blood pressure. Dietary changes can reduce your risk for cardiovascular conditions and stroke, and they can reduce your need for heart or blood pressure medications which can be a cause of vertigo. If you have high cholesterol, see this cholesterol page. To lower blood sugar, see the page on diabetes. Diabetics have a much higher risk of developing hearing loss as are nondiabetics which indicates high blood sugar levels to be a potential factor in inner ear disease.
   Another possible benefit of eating a healthy diet is that it reduces overall inflammation in the body, which could possibly reduce inflammatory problems within the inner ear.

Smoking - If you are a smoker, do your best to reduce or quit. Smoking causes hardening of the arteries.

Exercise - Try to take a half hour walk every day if you are able to.

Natural supplements that have been studied for vertigo treatment
There is very little clinical research regarding the use of natural supplements for vertigo treatment. I will mention a few but in no way do I present them as proven to be helpful. You could give them a try if your doctor approves and after your doctor has determined that there are no serious medical reasons for your vertigo.
   These supplements are not likely to work right away, but may take weeks or months to help. They don't work within hours like antihistamines. Some of these supplements include fish oil capsules to increase omega-3 intake, reduce inflammation, improve circulation, and reduce blood pressure, ginkgo biloba to improve microcirculation and blood flow, and vinpocetine (a periwinkle extract that improves circulation to the brain). Ginger is actually a very healthy herb and the use of ginger, either added as a spice to your food, or taken as a supplement, would likely provide many health benefits. If you plan to take ginkgo, use a low dose of 40 or 60 mg a day to start. Vinpocetine at 2 or 3 mg a day is a good starting dose, you may initially need to take half of a 5 mg pill. Make sure your doctor approves any of the supplements that you plan to take since certain herbs can interact with medicines. Do not take all these supplements at the same time. Give each one a week to learn how it makes you feel. Once you know the effects on your body of each one separately, you may combined them in low doses. Supplements, in many cases, do interact with prescription medicines.

Cause of Vertigo
This condition can be caused by peripheral and/or central disorders. Vertigo is usually associated with a problem in the inner ear balance mechanisms (vestibular system). It can also be caused by problems with the nerve that connects the inner ear to the brain, or there could be problems in the brain that cause it. When the problem is in the inner ear, it is called peripheral vertigo and is often associated with hearing loss or tinnitus (ringing in the ears).

Having a bone mineral density below normal, osteopenia, or having an even greater loss of bone density resulting in fragile porous bones, osteoporosis, which are both predominantly caused by a lack of calcium, are more common in men and women who also have benign positional vertigo. Dr. Ji Soo Kim, from Seoul National University College of Medicine in Korea, said ""These findings suggest a problem with calcium metabolism in people with vertigo. Women most often have their first case of vertigo in their 50s, when they are also having a drop in bone mass due to loss of estrogen. Estrogen is one of the main hormones that influence calcium and bone metabolism." Neurology, March 2009.

Peripheral vertigo causes more severe symptoms but is less serious. Peripheral, in this case, refers to the inner ear, behind the ear drum.

Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo is the most common cause of peripheral vertigo. This type of vertigo occurs when you move the position of your head in a sudden manner. The attacks last up to a minute. This kind of vertigo results from the dislodgement of normal crystalline structures in the ear's balance detectors. Vestibular rehabilitation exercises may help in this condition. They consist of having you sit on the edge of a table and lie down to one side until the vertigo resolves followed by sitting up and lying down on the other side, again until the vertigo ceases. This is repeated until the vertigo is no longer inducible. Your doctor may offer other exercises for you to do. I am not sure if or how diet or lifestyle changes influence the health of the inner ear, but I would not be surprised if there is a connection.

Ménière's disease results in severe vertigo, ringing in the ears [tinnitus], and progressive hearing loss).

Vestibular neuritis (inflammation of vestibular nerve cells; may be caused by viral infection).

Labyrinthitis is inflammation within the inner ear.

Ototoxicity - Some medications and environmental chemicals (e.g., lead, mercury, tin) can cause ototoxicity (i.e., ear poisoning), which may result in damage to the inner ear or the 8th cranial nerve (acoustic nerve) and cause vertigo. For a list of medications that can cause vertigo, see several paragraphs below. Many medications are prescribed for high cholesterol, high blood pressure, high blood sugar, or heart problems. Many of these conditions can be helped  with dietary and lifestyle changes, hence the additional importance of diet in the long term approach to vertigo treatment. Also, some NSAID medications such as ibuprofen are prescribed for pain, and it is possible that these medications cause damage to the inner ear. Pain is sometimes due to inflammation in the body due to prostaglandins and leukotrienes, and these can be reduced by adopting a healthy diet that reduces overall inflammatory markers. Thus, your need for pain medications can be lowered.

   Treatment of peripheral vestibular disorders that cause vertigo is most often with antihistamines such as meclizine (Antivert) or diphenhydramine (Benadryl). Some doctors prescribe low doses of diazepam (Valium). However, these drugs cause fatigue and lethargy.

Central vertigo causes include the following:
Migraine headaches - See migraine information here.
Decreased blood flow to the brain
Brainstem problems and tumors
Cardiovascular disorders such as bradycardia (slowed heart rate), tachycardia (rapid heart rate), or a sudden drop in blood pressure. Orthostatic hypotension (sharp decrease in blood pressure upon rising from a lying or sitting position to a standing position may be caused by diabetes, dehydration, and anemia).
Strokes and brain hemorrhage
Head trauma
Multiple sclerosis can cause vertigo.
Systemic diseases (e.g., kidney disease, thyroid disorders)
Tumors that affect the central vestibular system, such as acoustic neuroma. Acoustic neuroma leads to vertigo, along with ringing in the ear on one side, not both ears.

Medications that can cause vertigo are numerous.
In some people symptoms of vertigo can be caused by medications such as chemotherapy drugs, certain antibiotics, some cold and flu medicines, painkillers, antidepressants, antipsychotics, as well as drugs prescribed for high blood pressure, cardiac disorders, diabetes, thyroid disease, depression and anxiety. A partial list of these drugs includes, in alphabetical order: alpha blockers, aspirin, gentamicin, Flomax, Lariam used for malaria prevention, mefloquine used for malaria prevention, Naproxen, phenytoin, and many, many others.

Other causes of vertigo
Alcohol, in excess, can cause damage to the cells in the ear.
Diet - Elevated blood lipids, obesity, and diabetes increase the risk. A low calorie, high-protein, low-simple carbohydrate diet may improve symptoms in many patients after a few months of dietary changes.
Cerumen impaction. If you have trouble hearing, ask you doctor to check your ear canals to make sure there is no wax occlusion.

Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo may be due to cupulolithiasis and canalolithiasis. The vertigo disorder is treated with training. Trauma and inflammation in the head and neck region may be regarded as possible causes. Osteoporosis is a risk factor for the recurrence of benign paroxysmal positional vertigo. BPPV is a common cause of severe dizziness. A series of gentle head and neck movements known as the canalith repositioning procedure is the fastest, easiest way to cure BPPV. Ask your doctor regarding BPPV treatment with a canalith repositioning procedure.

Menopause. Feb 3 2014. Menopause and benign paroxysmal positional vertigo.  Data suggest that hormonal fluctuations (especially during menopause) may increase the tendency to develop BPPV.

Questions
Q. I'm at my wits end. I have benign positional vertigo which was diagnosed by my neurologist. He gave me an exercise to do 3 times daily plus told me to take 2 mg of valium before bed which does nothing except help me sleep. It's been about 6 weeks now and even though I do not feel as bad as I did the first two weeks, I'm still light headed and can't practice my yoga daily as I did prior; although I have modified my practice not to bend forward as much it's still difficult. I bought ginkgo biloba to take for it since I read on line that it might benefit my vertigo. Do you have any suggestions at all on what supplements might help me get rid of the vertigo? Any suggestions from you would be so very appreciated.
   A. The treatment of Vertigo depends on the cause of vertigo. I list some ideas for natural treatment options on this vertigo page.

I am in the U.K. My daughter is suffering from a condition called Mdds ( mal de debarquement syndrome), there is apparently no cure for this terrible illness, do you know if the mind power rx might help her?
    We appreciate your email. However, we have not tested or had reports from users of Mind Power Rx who have had these mal de debarquement syndrome symptoms, so we can't say if the product would help or not.