Judy Bowen-Jones

Vertigo, Dizziness & Menieres Disease

Vertigo is a symptom, rather than a condition itself, when you feel as if you, or the environment around you, is moving or spinning.

This feeling may be slight, or it may be so severe that you find it difficult to keep your balance. Vertigo attacks can develop suddenly and last for only a few seconds, or they may last much longer. If you have severe vertigo, your symptoms may be constant and last for several days, making everyday life very difficult. Symptoms associated with vertigo may include: loss of balance, feeling sick, being sick or dizziness.

Vertigo is usually caused by a problem with the balance mechanism in the inner ear, although it can also be caused by problems in certain parts of the brain. Causes of vertigo may include benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), where particular head movements trigger vertigo, migraines, inner ear infections (labyrinthitis) and inflammation of the vestibular nerve (vestibular neuronitis).

Conventional treatment of vertigo includes medication and vestibular rehabilitation training (VRT). Depending on what’s causing your vertigo, there may be simple things you can do to help relieve your symptoms, such as getting up very slowly and moving slowly.


Ménière’s disease is a disorder of the inner ear that can affect hearing and balance. It is characterised by episodes of vertigo, tinnitus, and hearing loss. The hearing loss comes and goes for some time, alternating between ears, then becomes permanent with no return to normal function.
The exact cause of Ménière’s disease is unknown, but it’s thought to be caused by a problem with pressure deep inside the ear. Having a family history of Ménière’s disease increases your risk of developing the disease. Sufferers may also experience stress, anxiety and depression.

Recent research has found that Ménière’s disease may potentially be influenced and worsened by obstructive sleep apnoea, and that risk factors for reduced vascular function in the brain such as smoking, migraines, and atherosclerosis may play a role in triggering attacks.

Conventional treatments for Ménière’s disease include medication, dietary advice – particularly a low-salt diet, physiotherapy to help with balance, sound therapy for tinnitus and hearing aids for hearing loss.

Acupuncture for Vertigo & Menieres Disease

A World Health Organization review and analysis of controlled acupuncture clinical trials (2003) lists Ménière’s disease among “conditions for which the therapeutic effect of acupuncture has been shown but for which further proof is needed”. More recent studies and systematic reviews of acupuncture for Ménière’s syndrome suggest that acupuncture has beneficial effects for both acute and chronic phases of the disease and for the treatment of chronic cervical vertigo. Acupuncture may help relieve vertigo by:

  • Activating specific brain functions
  • Increasing blood flow in the vertebral-basilar artery, thus improving blood flow to the brain
  • Increasing the production of endorphins and neuropeptides which affect negative sensory states
  • Reducing inflammation
  • Increasing local circulation and reducing swelling

Acupuncture has also been shown to stimulate the body’s parasympathetic nervous system and thus reduce stress and anxiety. Acupuncture affects the brain’s mood chemistry and may be helpful in treating depression associated with vertigo.

See also:

Treating Dizziness

“In Chinese Medicine, dizziness can be viewed as either a deficiency or excess condition. In deficiency conditions, insufficient energy reaches the head. In excess conditions, a pathogenic factor prevents clear yang energy from reaching the head. Your treatment will depend on your underlying pattern. I may also recommend some lifestyle changes to help relieve your symptoms”.

Maciocia, G. 2005. The Practice of Chinese Medicine. Dizziness. 60-66. Churchill Livingstone

Research Fact Sheets

For more information see the British Acupuncture Council Research Fact Sheet below.