Dizziness and Vertigo

Chinese Medicine has been used in the management of Dizziness & Vertigo fo millennium 

Dizziness could be a sense of mild light-headedness or a serious loss of balance and equilibrium. Chinese medicine may have an alternative or complementary approach that can assist you in managing this condition.  At the mild end of the range, dizziness may only last a few seconds. Frequently, blurry vision or spots in the vision may also be present. 


Vertigo is generally more severe and is characterized by a sudden sensation of spinning or that one's surroundings are rotating. Vertigo presents with or without moving the head. The room may spin, sway or rock. Vertigo, unlike the previously described dizziness, lasts for minutes or even hours at a time. Often times it is accompanied by a sense of fear, anxiety, nausea, vomiting and, at times, tinnitus.  

Man suffering from dizziness with diffic

From a western medical perspective, there are a few causes that give rise to vertigo. Essentially, central vertigo is caused by possible nervous system damage from head or neck injuries. Low blood pressure may cause some dizziness, especially when rising quickly. Vertigo can be due to inner-ear issues and stems from damage to the small crystals within the balance organ that lies within the ear.  Vertigo may also be due to more serious conditions, and investigations with your western physician should be undertaken with the aid of imaging scans and blood tests.


From a Chinese medicine perspective, dizziness and vertigo may be caused by a myriad of things. Often seen in the clinic are cases of postural dizziness that manifest when rising quickly. This is often diagnosed by the term "blood deficiency of the liver" or a "deficiency of Qi". With some herbal medicine this can often be moderated and possibly stopped in a rather short time.  A more severe type of vertigo, known as "positional vertigo", arises with turning the head to a particular side. This type of vertigo is considered to be triggered within the ear and can be greatly reduced by using the Eply's Manoeuvre, a technique where the patient is moved in particular ways to reset the crystals in the ear, with acupuncture also being used in the session.


Dizziness and vertigo can be due, according to Chinese medicine, to liver fire ascent to the head. Stress and/or anger, or other internal disorders cause the powerful Qi of the liver to ascend to the head, causing a lightheaded type of dizziness that presents with or without a headache. Often, blurry vision and other symptoms may accompany this kind of presentation. 


Another type of vertigo, according to Chinese medicine, is  "wind heat" – a condition that arises from the external environment and more commonly occurs in windy and hot times of the year or climates.  The more severe and longer lasting the vertigo, the more likely it is that unresolved turbid fluids in the body, called “damp-heat”are involved.  Damp-heat rises to the head and blocks the sensory orifices.  The  concepts of "damp" and "damp-heat" are often seen with the more chronic and long-standing conditions.  Generally, such conditions require an approach that deals with the symptoms of dizziness, but very much focuses on diet and lifestyle choices that lead to such turbidity to manifest in the first place.  Chinese medicine always takes the holistic approach and treatment option for any condition and will take the view of the "whole" to treat the presenting symptoms. 


When observing patients from a Chinese medicine perspective, a practitioner must take into consideration a vast array of bodily signs and symptoms, such as the nature of the radial pulse and the appearance of the tongue. Many questions are asked about the nature of vertigo, and a detailed history is taken.  All this information is collated systematically to derive the most accurate diagnosis possible of the presenting condition. The underlying condition is then treated from a Chinese medicine view-point.  There are several treatment protocols for any given combination of Chinese medicine patterns, signs and symptoms and the practitioner's role is to come up with the safest, most powerful and effective approach, given the information provided.


Both acupuncture and herbal medicine are generally used to manage dizziness and vertigo. If positional vertigo is present, then the Epley's Maneuver may be adopted with some follow-up home exercises to provide further support.

For further discussion about this vast subject, and if you have any questions about it or regarding other concerns, please feel free to call me on the number below.


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