Dizziness and lightheadedness are symptoms of vertigo, also known as benign paroxysmal positional vertigo. During an attack of vertigo, the room may seem like it’s spinning, and you may feel faint, nauseous and sweaty. The problem occurs when your central nervous system, or CNS, gets mixed signals from your inner ear, eyes and muscles. There can be many causes of vertigo, including a head injury, poor cerebral circulation, high blood pressure and menopause. Depending on the cause of your vertigo, herbs may be helpful in relieving dizziness and lightheadedness. Consult a healthcare provider before starting herbal treatment.
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Herbs for vertigo may work in different ways, depending on the cause of the disorder. Nervine herbs can have a normalizing effect on your blood pressure and CNS, while vasodilators and stimulants can improve blood circulation. Check with a knowledgeable practitioner for advice about dosage and preparation of these herbs.
Black cohosh, or Cimicifuga racemosa, is a tall perennial with spikes of white flowers. Herbalists use the rhizomes and roots to treat nervous disorders, and menstrual and menopausal problems. In his 2003 book, “Medical Herbalism: The Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine,” clinical herbalist David Hoffmann, FNIMH, AHG, notes that, as a relaxing nervine, black cohosh has a potent effect on the CNS and may be especially helpful if your vertigo is related to menopause. Do not use this herb during pregnancy.
Ginkgo, or Ginkgo biloba, is a tall tree native to China. It’s an important herb in both Western and traditional Chinese medicine, or TCM. Herbal practitioners use the leaves to treat cerebral insufficiency, dizziness, poor memory and concentration, and insomnia. In their 2000 book, “Prescription for Nutritional Healing,” Dr. James F. Balch and Phyllis A. Balch, CNC, recommend ginkgo for vertigo because it may improve blood circulation and increase the oxygen supply to your brain. Do not combine ginkgo with anticoagulant medicine.
Ginger, or Zingiber officinale, is a perennial used in cooking and herbal medicine. It’s a traditional remedy for stomach problems, nausea, fever, coughs and diarrhea. The rhizomes are rich in volatile oil, and have antibacterial, cholesterol-lowering, hypoglycemic and anti-ulcer actions. Dr. James F. Balch and Phyllis A. Balch, CNC, recommend ginger to relieve dizziness and nausea. Herbalist David Hoffman also notes that ginger stimulates circulation and may help reduce high blood pressure, a possible cause of dizziness. Do not combine large doses of ginger with anticoagulant drugs.
- “Medical Herbalism: The Science and Practice of Herbal Medicine”; David Hoffmann; 2003
- “Prescription for Nutritional Healing”; Phyllis A. Balch, CNC, and James F. Balch, M.D.; 2000