Learning & Resource Center Articles
Acupuncture for Vertigo
By: Vanessa Vogel Batt, L.Ac., MSTOM
Have you ever had the feeling that, against all odds, somehow the ground beneath your feet suddenly trembled and caused you to lose your sense of balance? Unless you were in an earthquake, it could be that what you experienced was a medical condition called vertigo. Some words used to describe this unsettling sensation are spinning, whirling, swaying side to side and swirling. The intensity of vertigo is what distinguishes it from being a simple case of dizziness.
The cause is usually related to an inner ear problem. The delicate components of the inner ear play a key role in helping us keep our physical balance while adjusting our body position. They are what enable us to run, dance and walk a tightrope without falling down. Factors that are known to cause vertigo include head trauma, neurological problems, migraine headaches and side effects from certain prescription drugs.
Symptoms that may accompany vertigo include nausea, nystagmus (abnormal spastic eye movements), headaches, sweating, hearing loss and tinnitus (ringing in the ears). Symptoms of vertigo can last anywhere from a few minutes to many hours. In some cases, professional treatment is unnecessary as the condition may resolve itself.
However, in other cases, medical treatment may be essential to treat the problem. Fortunately, acupuncture and Oriental medicine can offer help in this department. Often, this medical condition is linked with the element of wind and is even described with the same words as this naturally-occurring phenomenon.
For instance, the alarming sensations associated with a bout of vertigo are known to come on suddenly, sweep through the body and bring about symptoms that may come and go quickly. The wind also seemingly comes out of nowhere at times and, without warning, picks up speed. In nature, as in the body, wind can be erratic and even chaotic.
A practitioner of acupuncture and Oriental medicine is able to influence the effects of wind in a patient's body through the use of specific acupuncture points. For example, if it is discovered that uncontrollably rising and whipping wind is causing a patient to experience loss of balance and nausea, it is necessary to needle acupuncture points that will promote a smooth, orderly flow of Qi. Qi is the most basic and essential form of energy needed for all life to exist.
A practitioner of acupuncture and Oriental medicine may choose to needle points on the liver meridian, since one job of the liver is to ensure that Qi flows cooperatively and evenly throughout the body. A meridian, or channel, is the pathway on which Qi travels throughout the body. The energy from the meridians is accessed through the use of acupuncture needles to promote healing.
Unhealthy wind in the liver meridians may stem from a condition called liver yang rising. Yang energy is active, warm and masculine in nature. There are acupuncture points located on the feet that 'command' this quickly rising yang energy to gently simmer down and return to normal. By doing so, vertigo and symptoms associated with it, such as ringing in the ears, headaches and disorientation, may be reduced or avoided completely.
For some patients, however, an acupuncture treatment is needed to strongly direct Qi upwards to the head where it can benefit the brain. When the brain has more energy available to it, it is better able to stave off the symptoms of vertigo. There is a saying, according to the theory of acupuncture and Oriental medicine, that "where Qi goes, blood flows". Therefore, applying acupuncture needles at the top of the head can bring Qi and blood to nourish and energize the brain.
The feeling of having two feet firmly on the ground is what enables us and helps to stay focused, capable and aware in this world. If you notice odd symptoms that occur with virtually no warning, and they cause you to lose your equilibrium, consider discussing the situation with your practitioner of acupuncture and Oriental medicine. In the meantime, if you experience a bout of vertigo, there are a couple of points on the body you can gently massage to address your symptoms.
Located in the middle of your eyebrows, just above the bridge of the nose, is a very calming, sedating acupuncture point called Ying Tang. This point can be pressed with the pads of your fingertip whenever any unpleasant sensations threaten your sense of balance. Make yourself comfortable by sitting down and close your eyes when performing this exercise for best results.
If you also experience nausea, continue with the above exercise and simply place the palm of your free hand over your stomach. The stomach is located below your rib cage, in the center of your body. Let the warmth from your palm help ease any tension in this area. This technique can be applied safely for as long as it takes for your body to regain its equilibrium.
Find an Acupuncturist near you to learn how acupuncture and Oriental medicine can help you!
About the Author: Vanessa Vogel Batt, L.Ac., MSTOM, studied at the Pacific College of Oriental Medicine, and practiced acupuncture and Oriental medicine in New York for several years. Vanessa enjoys traveling the world, and has published articles on acupuncture and Oriental medicine and related health topics for websites and publications in both the U.S. and abroad.