Dizziness is a fairly general term used to describe a wide range of sensations, from feeling light-headed, woozy, faint, off-balance, or unsteady. These can sometimes be accompanied by nausea, tiredness, and headaches.
Vertigo is a specific type of dizziness, and presents as a feeling of spinning, as if the surroundings are moving around you.
Vertigo and dizziness affect 20-30% of the population, with the majority being older women.
Both vertigo and dizziness rarely signal a life-threatening condition, yet they can be very worrying and debilitating, and significantly impact your quality of life, making even the simplest tasks seem challenging.
Medications are available and can be helpful in managing symptoms but can also cause some unwanted side effects. Getting to the root cause of the issue is usually the best approach to dizziness and vertigo as it might help get rid of dizzy spells and keep them from coming back for good.
If you want to know more about Chinese Medicine’s natural approach to managing dizziness and alleviating its uncomfortable symptoms while targeting the underlying imbalance to restore optimal health, come and visit us or request free personalised health advice.
How can we help?
Chinese Medicine has a long history of treating dizziness and vertigo.
Acupuncture and herbal medicine offer promising solutions to symptoms, either on their own or as a complement to other approaches.
Research suggests that acupuncture for dizziness may work by regulating the function of the inner ear, improving blood circulation, and reducing inflammation, all of which can contribute to the relief of dizziness.
Similarly, research has shown that Tuina massage, a type of therapeutic massage, can be equally effective in both reducing symptoms and improving overall well-being. According to research, Tuina might work by improving blood circulation, relieving muscle tension, and restoring balance through the gentle pressure and manipulation of specific acupoints related to the head, neck, and ears.
Chinese Medicine treatments for dizziness and vertigo vary depending on the individual’s type and severity of the condition, specific needs and symptoms. They usually consist of a tailored blend of acupuncture and highly personalised herbal formulas.
In addition to acupuncture and Chinese herbal medicine, Tuina massage, lifestyle and tailored dietary advice might be given to further support and facilitate the body’s healing process.
Chinese Medicine takes a comprehensive approach by addressing both the symptoms and the underlying imbalances in the body. By combining different techniques, such as acupuncture, herbal medicine, massage, or specific Qi Gong exercises, you can optimize your chances of finding relief from dizziness and regaining your balance.
How quickly will you see results?
In most cases, a course of 3 to 4 weeks of acupuncture sessions and herbal formulas can be enough to start seeing improvements in symptoms. However, results can vary depending on the individual response to treatment.
Please consult with both your Chinese Medicine physician and GP before starting any new course of treatment for optimal, integrated and safe care.
Dizziness is a sudden sensation of unsteadiness and light-headedness that affects many individuals and is sometimes accompanied by other uncomfortable symptoms such as nausea, tiredness, and headaches. Episodes may last seconds or days and may recur and be triggered or worsened by walking, standing up or moving your head.
Symptoms can range from a mild feeling of disorientation to a debilitating sense of movement making it difficult to maintain balance. The symptoms in a mild case may be relieved by closing the eyes and taking a few deep breaths. In most severe episodes, where nausea, blurred vision, vomiting, and sweating are experienced, laying or sitting for a while may help ease symptoms or prevent fainting.
While some cases of dizziness may be isolated incidents, others may be part of a recurring pattern. These might be due to various causes, including migraines, motion sickness, medication side effects, inner ear problems, or underlying health conditions, such as poor circulation, infections or injuries. Vertigo, in particular, can also be a sign of more serious conditions such as Meniere’s disease and Labyrinthitis.
Dizziness and vertigo rarely signal a life-threatening condition yet constant dizziness can significantly impact daily life. Being blindsided by unexpected dizziness, spinning sensations, nausea, and headaches is unsettling and debilitating and can increase your risk of falls and injuries. Experiencing dizziness while driving a car or operating heavy machinery can increase the likelihood of an accident.
People may also experience long-term consequences if an existing health condition that may be causing dizziness goes untreated.
As a general rule, see your doctor if you experience any recurrent, sudden, severe, or prolonged, and unexplained dizziness or vertigo.
Western Medical View
Western medicine considers most cases of dizziness to be either cerebral or auditory in origin. Dizziness may also be seen in infective and allergic diseases, as well as other disorders such as epilepsy, hypertension, hypotension, anaemia, arrhythmia, and some types of neurosis.
A diagnosis can often be provided through a thorough symptom history and physical examination. In some cases, auditory system and brain stem testing and imaging, occasionally with blood work, may be necessary to determine whether or not the symptoms come from an underlying condition.
Treatments will vary, depending on the cause of dizziness and are usually geared towards symptom control and management.
If a bacterial infection in the ear is confirmed, then antibiotics may be used. Migraine-related vertigo may be treated with the medications typically prescribed for migraines. Anti-nausea drugs like Dramamine may be suggested. Patients suffering from cervical vertigo may be referred to physical therapy to help improve the positioning and strength of their neck/cervical spine.
Chinese Medical View
Dizziness or ‘XuanYun’ (Xuan meaning ‘blurred vision’ and Yun meaning ‘dizziness) can arise from various factors, including imbalances in the body, external pathogenic factors such as wind, dampness, or heat, and emotional factors such as stress or anxiety.
These can be broadly categorized into two main groups: Deficiency and Excess.
Dizziness caused by deficiency occurs when there is an insufficient flow of Qi (the body’s essential energy) and blood to the head. This deficiency can stem from a lack of Kidney Qi or Kidney Essence, which is responsible for nourishing and energizing the body.
Factors such as stress, overwork, excessive sexual activity, and irregular eating habits can weaken the ZF Kidney and contribute to dizziness.
Excess conditions leading to dizziness result from a build up of Phlegm and pathogenic factors that obstruct the clear flow of Yang (the body’s essential warm energy) to the head. Consuming greasy foods, and dairy products, and having an irregular eating pattern can weaken the ZF Spleen and create Dampness and Phlegm, leading to dizziness.
According to Chinese medicine theory, acupuncture and Chinese herbs can be prescribed to address the main factors underlying dizziness. In addition to acupuncture and herbal medicine, Chinese Medicine also emphasizes the importance of lifestyle modifications and dietary therapy in managing dizziness. Making adjustments to one’s diet and lifestyle, such as avoiding excessive consumption of greasy or spicy foods, getting regular exercise, managing stress, and ensuring adequate rest, can all contribute to a healthier balance of Qi and blood circulation.
The treatment approach will depend on whether the dizziness is caused by Deficiency or Excess.
- Deficiency-related dizziness: the goal is to tonify the ZF Kidney and nourish the ZF Liver. This may involve resolving Phlegm and promoting the flow of Qi and blood to the head.
- Excess-related dizziness: the focus will be on clearing Phlegm and pathogenic factors, as well as ensuring the smooth flow of Yang to the head.
When it comes to managing dizziness, simple lifestyle and dietary changes can greatly improve your symptoms and overall well-being.
Here are some recommendations to consider:
- Reduce Stress
Emotional strain can have a significant impact on dizziness. Stress can cause the ZF Liver to produce excess heat energy, known as Liver-Yang, which can contribute to dizziness. Try to find ways to lower stress levels: yoga, meditation, deep breathing exercises, and walking in nature are all effective tools.
- Adopt a Healthy Diet
Try to limit or avoid sugar, processed foods, greasy foods and dairy products. Opt for a balanced diet that includes healthy fats, fresh fruits, vegetables, lean proteins, and whole grains.
- Stay Hydrated
Proper hydration is essential for overall health, including managing dizziness. Try to drink an adequate amount of water throughout the day to maintain proper hydration levels.
These lifestyle and dietary recommendations can serve as supportive measures in managing dizziness. Please consult with a Chinese medicine practitioner, for personalized advice tailored to your specific condition and needs.
+ *CLINICAL PAPERS:
Chiu, C. W., Lee, T. C., Hsu, P. C., Chen, C. Y., Chang, S. C., Chiang, J. Y., & Lo, L. C. (2015). Efficacy and safety of acupuncture for dizziness and vertigo in emergency department: a pilot cohort study. BMC complementary and alternative medicine, 15, 173. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12906-015-0704-6
Oh, H., Shin, S., & Lee, E. (2020). Herbal medicine for cervicogenic dizziness: A protocol for a systematic review and meta-analysis. Medicine, 99(51), e23852. https://doi.org/10.1097/MD.0000000000023852
Huang F, Zhao S, Dai L, Feng Z, Wu Z, Chen J, Guo R, Tian Q, Fan Z, Wu S. Tuina for cervical vertigo: A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials. Complement Ther Clin Pract. 2020 May;39:101115. doi: 10.1016/j.ctcp.2020.101115. Epub 2020 Feb 3. PMID: 32379654. DOI: 10.1016/j.ctcp.2020.101115