A sudden sensation of spinning is one of the first signs of vertigo. According to research or other evidence, the following self-care steps may be helpful.
Go for the ginkgo
Take 120 to 160 mg a day of a standardized extract of the herb Ginkgo biloba to reduce symptoms
Ease vertigo symptoms by taking 15 mg a day
About This Condition
Vertigo is a sensation of irregular or whirling motion, either of oneself or of external objects.
The word is sometimes incorrectly used as a general term to describe dizziness. The most common form of
vertigo is benign positional paroxysmal vertigo (BPPV), in which brief attacks are brought on by certain
changes in head position.1 BPPV may be due to a
previous head injury, viral infection, and certain drug therapies,
although in about half the cases the cause is unknown.2, 3 BPPV tends to resolve without
treatment within weeks to months, but may persist for years in some cases.4, 5
People with vertigo may have sudden sensations of spinning or whirling motion that may be accompanied by lightheadedness and loss of balance, and less often by sweating, fatigue, nausea, and vomiting.13, 14
Healthy Lifestyle Tips
Head positions that bring on sudden, acute attacks of vertigo, particularly bending the neck back while looking up, should be avoided. In one report, for example, the head position used in salons for shampooing hair was associated with the onset of vertigo.15 According to one authority,16 certain chronic or repetitive body positions may produce painful nodules, called trigger points, in the muscles of the head and neck, which can lead to dizziness and possibly vertigo. These positions include forward bending of the neck as when sleeping on two pillows, backward neck bending as when painting a ceiling, and turning the neck to one side as in some reading positions.17 A healthcare practitioner knowledgeable in postural education can give advice on avoiding such positions.
Numerous preliminary reports suggest certain “vestibular rehabilitation” exercises may help some cases of vertigo.18, 19, 20, 21, 22, 23 These exercises were also found to be effective in relieving vertigo in two controlled studies,24 including one on BPPV.25 While vestibular rehabilitation exercises may be done at home, initial guidance by a qualified practitioner is necessary.
BPPV appears to be caused by an accumulation of free-floating cell fragments in the fluid of the inner ear.26, 27 Certain manipulation therapy maneuvers, referred to as particle repositioning maneuvers (PRMs), are intended to relocate this debris to a harmless location,28, 29, 30 in order to improve symptoms. Both preliminary31, 32, 33, 34, 35 and controlled36, 37, 38 trials achieved significant improvement in, or elimination of, BPPV using these maneuvers. Most studies report that over 90% of people with BPPV treated one or two times with PRM respond to this treatment, although up to 45% may develop BPPV again within a few years, requiring further treatments.39, 40, 41
Research indicates some cases of vertigo are related to spinal disorders affecting the head and neck.42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47, 48 Preliminary studies report that certain treatments, such as spinal manipulation,49, 50, 51, 52 physical therapy,53 and combined approaches including manipulation and specific exercise programs,54, 55 result in significant improvement of vertigo symptoms.
Trigger points are thought by most,56, 57, 58 though not all,59 authorities to potentially cause pain and abnormal function in other parts of the body. Trigger points appear to develop as the result of injury, poor posture, structural abnormalities of the leg or pelvis, emotional tension, and other body stressors.60, 61 Also known as myofascial pain dysfunction (MPD), this condition, when it affects certain muscles of the head and neck, has been associated with vertigo in preliminary research.62, 63, 64 Musculoskeletal healthcare specialists and other practitioners can often treat MPD with a variety of natural therapies, including deep pressure massage,65, 66, 67, 68, 69 transcutaneous electrical nerve stimulation (TENS),70, 71 and other approaches,72 but no controlled studies have investigated the effectiveness of these treatments specifically for vertigo.
In a preliminary study of people with migraine headaches, most of whom (83%) also experienced vertigo, a combined and individualized approach using dietary changes, medication, physical therapy, lifestyle changes, and acupuncture resulted in complete or substantial improvement of symptoms in a significant number of participants.73 In addition, a large number of case studies presented in two preliminary reports suggest acupuncture may help to reduce symptoms of vertigo.74, 75 These preliminary studies have yet to be confirmed by controlled clinical trials.
The right diet is the key to managing many diseases and to improving general quality of life. For this condition, scientific research has found benefit in the following healthy eating tips.
Watch what you eat
In preliminary studies, vertigo associated with high triglycerides, type 2 diabetes, and hypoglycemia responded to dietary changes aimed at managing the underlying condition. Try avoiding refined sugars, and eating small frequent meals that are high in protein and complex carbohydrates.
In preliminary studies, vertigo associated with high triglycerides, diabetes mellitus, and hypoglycemia responded to dietary management of the underlying disorder.76, 77 In a preliminary study of people with migraine headaches, most of whom (83%) also experienced vertigo, a multifaceted approach including dietary changes was investigated. Dietary changes involved the elimination of foods and food additives suspected of causing migraine attacks. This approach resulted in complete or substantial improvement of symptoms in a significant number of participants.78 No other research has investigated the effects of diet on vertigo.
Uncover food allergies
Work with a knowledgeable practitioner to uncover possible food sensitivities that may contribute to vertigo.
In preliminary studies, vertigo associated with high triglycerides, diabetes mellitus, and hypoglycemia responded to dietary management of the underlying disorder.79, 80 In a preliminary study of people with migraine headaches, most of whom (83%) also experienced vertigo, a multifaceted approach including dietary changes was investigated. Dietary changes involved the elimination of foods and food additives suspected of causing migraine attacks. This approach resulted in complete or substantial improvement of symptoms in a significant number of participants.81 No other research has investigated the effects of diet on vertigo.
Our proprietary “Star-Rating” system was developed to help you easily understand the amount of scientific support behind each supplement in relation to a specific health condition. While there is no way to predict whether a vitamin, mineral, or herb will successfully treat or prevent associated health conditions, our unique ratings tell you how well these supplements are understood by the medical community, and whether studies have found them to be effective for other people.
For over a decade, our team has combed through thousands of research articles published in reputable journals. To help you make educated decisions, and to better understand controversial or confusing supplements, our medical experts have digested the science into these three easy-to-follow ratings. We hope this provides you with a helpful resource to make informed decisions towards your health and well-being.
3 StarsReliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.
2 StarsContradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.
1 StarFor an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support.
1 gram of powdered root daily
Ginger has been shown to be effective at reducing symptoms.
One gram of powdered ginger(Zingiber officinale) root in a single application has been reported to significantly reduce symptoms of artificially induced vertigo in one double-blind trial.82 In a double-blind trial, 1 gram of powdered ginger root was found to have very little effect in reducing vertigo related to seasickness.83
120 to 160 mg a day of a standardized herbal extract
Taking ginkgo may help reduce symptoms.
In a preliminary clinical trial, a standardized extract of Ginkgo biloba (GBE) significantly reduced symptoms of vertigo in a group of elderly people with mild cognitive impairment.84 Participants were given 40 mg three times per day for one year. GBE has also been reported to significantly reduce vertigo of unknown cause in preliminary85 and double-blind86 trials. The amounts given were 120 mg and 160 mg per day, respectively, for three months.
15 mg daily
Supplementing with vinpocetine has been shown to ease symptoms.
A preliminary trial showed that 15 mg per day of vinpocetine had a moderate or greater effect on reducing the signs and symptoms of vertigo in 77% of patients with this condition.87 Other preliminary reports exist describing benefits of vinpocetine for vertigo and other symptoms of inner ear disorders,88 but controlled research is needed to evaluate these claims.
Consult a qualified healthcare practitioner
Studies have shown vitamin B6 to be effective at reducing symptoms.
Two preliminary human studies reported that vitamin B6 supplementation reduced symptoms of vertigo produced with drugs in a laboratory setting.89 Vitamin B6 supplementation has not been studied in BPPV or other forms of vertigo and may not share the same causative mechanism as experimentally induced vertigo.
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The information presented in Aisle7 is for informational purposes only. It is based on scientific studies (human, animal, or in vitro), clinical experience, or traditional usage as cited in each article. The results reported may not necessarily occur in all individuals. Self-treatment is not recommended for life-threatening conditions that require medical treatment under a doctor's care. For many of the conditions discussed, treatment with prescription or over the counter medication is also available. Consult your doctor, practitioner, and/or pharmacist for any health problem and before using any supplements or before making any changes in prescribed medications. Information expires June 2014.
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