The term “dizziness” can mean different things to different people. For one person, dizziness might mean a fleeting feeling of light-headedness, while for another it could be an intense sensation of spinning. Dizziness is often described as a range of sensation that can include feeling light-headed, faint, unsteady or disoriented. On the other hand, vertigo is a feeling that the surrounding environment is moving or spinning even when you are not.

The human ear is the sensory organ responsible for maintaining balance. More specifically, it is the vestibular system found within the inner ear. Most dizziness or vertigo are often caused by problems of the inner ear. Some of the most common inner ear disorders include benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) and Meniere's disease.

BPPV causes brief episodes of dizziness, usually triggered by positional changes of the head. This might occur when tilting the head up and down, lying down, or turning over in bed. Currently, there is no known cause of BPPV. In most cases, symptoms of BPPV may include dizziness, vertigo, loss of balance, nausea and/or vomiting.  Episodes of BPPV come and go, usually lasting from a few hours to days.

Meniere's disease is a disorder of the inner ear causing spontaneous episodes of vertigo, muffled hearing or hearing loss, ringing in the ear and a feeling of pressure in the ear. In most cases, Meniere's disease usually affects only one ear. When excess fluid buildup in the inner ear, it can interfere with normal balance and hearing signals. The exact cause of Meniere's disease remains unknown; thus, it is likely a result from a combination of factors. Stress and emotional disturbances, dietary changes such as an increase in salt intake, or a family history are common triggers.

While many may think that dizziness is rarely a sign of a serious condition and will eventually pass with some rest, it is worth noting that a dizziness episode accompanied by certain red flag symptoms could indicate a more severe health issue that requires immediate medical intervention. If you experience dizziness with:

  • Sudden numbness or weakness on one side of the body, sudden confusion, slurred speech;
  • Chest pain, heart palpitations, shortness of breath;
  • Head injury with severe headache or loss of consciousness,
  • please seek medical assistance immediately.

    In TCM, the term Xuan Yun (眩晕) is used to describe the two major forms of dizziness. Xuan is defined as giddiness and blurred, blackout vision whereas Yun is the sudden spinning sensation or loss of balance. The onset of dizziness or vertigo is believed to be closely associated with the imbalance in the Liver, Spleen and Kidney organ system. Emotional stress, unhealthy diet, poor blood and Qi circulation, and ageing are common causes. Clinically, there are several TCM syndromes observed in patients with recurring episodes of dizziness. Below are some corresponding herbal tea, recipes, and acupressure massage you can try at home to help manage a dizziness or vertigo episode.

    1. Excess phlegm and dampness
    Symptoms: Dizziness, nausea, chest tightness
    Tangerine peel tea
    Ingredients: Tangerine peel 6g, poria cocos 6g
    Preparation: Place all the herbs into a cup and pour boiling water over. Steep for 10-15minutes before consumption.

    1. Hyperactivity of Liver yang
    Symptoms: Dizziness, headache, ringing in the ear, irritable
    Chrysanthemum honeysuckle tea
    Ingredients: Yellow chrysanthemum 6g, honeysuckle 6g, licorice root 2-3 pieces
    Preparation: Place all the herbs into a cup and pour boiling water over. Steep for 10-15minutes before consumption.

    1. Qi and blood deficiency
    Symptoms: Dizziness, fatigue, paleness
    Herbal pork bone soup
    Ingredients: Pork bone 250g, angelica sinensis 20g, codonopsis pilosula 20g
    Preparation: Smash pork bone. Boil pork bones for 3 hours. Add herbs to pork bone soup, and simmer for 20 minutes. Remove the herb remnants, and add salt to taste.

    1. Liver and Kidney yin deficiency
    Symptoms: Dizziness, ringing in the ear, poor memory, lower back pain and knee weakness
    Sang ji gou qi tea
    Ingredients: Taxillus chinensis 9g, wolfberry 6g
    Preparation: Place all the herbs into a cup and pour boiling water over. Steep for 10-15minutes before consumption.

      Acupoints massage:
  • Bai Hui Xue. Located in the center at the top of the head
  • Feng Chi Xue. Located behind the ear bone, in the depression where the neck meets the skull
  • Nei Guan Xue. Located in the inner forearm, three finger-widths above the wrist crease
  • Zu San Li Xue. Located four finger-widths down the bottom of your kneecap, along the outer boundary of your shin bone
  • Feng Long Xue. Midpoint of the imaginary line between the highest point on the outer ankle bone and the bottom of kneecap, two finger-widths outside the boundary of your shin bone
  • It is recommended to massage the following acupoints once or twice daily, for 3-5 minutes each time. However, if the symptoms persist or aggravate over time, do seek professional help as soon as possible!    

    Health Education