by Jenny Smiechowski
If you’ve ever suffered from dizziness or ringing in your ears, you know how disruptive these problems can be. Depending on the severity, dizziness can prevent you from driving, working or even standing up, and ear ringing can wreak havoc on your sleep and social life.
Luckily, for most people, these ailments are temporary. They happen due to an acute illness like a cold, flu or ear infection, and they clear up once you’re feeling better. But for someone with Meniere’s disease, they’re a regular occurrence—one that could last the rest of their life.
Meniere’s disease is an inner ear disorder that affects around 615,000 people in the U.S. (1). The exact cause of Meniere’s disease is unknown, but a popular theory suggests it’s caused by a buildup of fluid in the inner ear (2). When the disease strikes, you experience one or more of the following symptoms:
- Dizziness (vertigo)
- Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
- Hearing loss
- A feeling of fullness in the ear
Meniere’s disease is an unpredictable disorder. Some of Meniere’s sufferers deal with uncomfortable symptoms every day, while others have episodes as infrequently as once a year (3).
Unfortunately, most people with Meniere’s do eventually develop permanent hearing loss (1). So regardless of how frequently Meniere’s interferes with your life, you’ll want to do everything you can to curb its progression.
When it comes to treating Meniere’s, conventional medicine can offer symptom relief from motion sickness drugs and anti-nausea drugs, along with diuretics to reduce fluid retention (4). In some cases, people even get steroid injections in their ear or undergo surgery with varying success (4). But there are less invasive yet still effective options for taming your inner ear troubles.
If you turn to natural remedies, you can find remarkable relief from many of Meniere’s worst symptoms. Here are six natural methods for managing your Meniere’s disease:
The University of Michigan has conducted years of research showing that people with Meniere’s can drastically improve their symptoms by following a strict low-sodium diet (5). That’s because sodium causes your body to retain water, and scientists suspect Meniere’s disease is caused by water retention in the ear. This type of diet requires reducing sodium intake to 1,500 to 2,000 mg daily (6). There’s also anecdotal evidence that cutting out chemical food additives like MSG and aspartame reduces Meniere’s symptoms, but no studies have been conducted to confirm this for sure. Studies have, however, connected aspartame intake to an increased risk of tinnitus, one of the main symptoms of Meniere’s (7). And MSG restriction makes sense since MSG is a form of sodium. You may also want to get tested for food allergies since those could contribute to the development of fluid in the ear and ultimately Meniere’s (8).
Staying hydrated is an essential part of staying healthy, but it may be particularly important for people with Meniere’s disease. A 2006 study found that Meniere’s sufferers who drank 35 ml of water per kilogram of body weight daily for two years dramatically improved their vertigo and their hearing (9). In fact, their hearing improved more than those who only followed a low-sodium diet and took diuretics (9). As a point of reference, that would be equivalent to drinking roughly 10 cups of water per day if you weigh 150 pounds. Water’s positive effect on Meniere’s maybe because water helps clear sodium from the body.
- Mind-body therapies
The mind-body connection can be a powerful tool in the fight against Meniere’s too. People with Meniere’s have found relief from mind-body therapies like tai chi and hypnosis, among others. A 2009 study, for example, found that people with dizziness and balance disorders like Meniere’s experienced an improvement in their symptoms after eight weeks of practicing tai chi (10). Studies also show that biofeedback can improve Meniere’s symptoms and that hypnosis can alleviate tinnitus (11).
Numerous studies show that acupuncture improves Meniere’s disease symptoms. In fact, a systematic review of 27 studies determined that Meniere’s disease sufferers benefit from acupuncture whether they start treatments when they’re first diagnosed or after the disease has progressed (12). The review also shows that different types of acupuncture benefit people with Meniere’s disease, including body, ear or scalp acupuncture, fluid acupuncture point injection or moxibustion (12). Some studies even show that the most severe symptoms of Meniere’s disease, like vertigo, can go away completely after a few acupuncture treatments (13).
Homeopathic remedies can temporarily ease two of the worst Meniere’s symptoms: vertigo and tinnitus. In fact, a randomized double-blind controlled clinical study found that homeopathy is just as effective as the prescription drug betahistine at relieving vertigo (11). The homeopathic remedy they used in the study included Cocculus indicus, Conium maculatum, and Ambra grisea. If you’re a Meniere’s sufferer and you’re interested in homeopathic treatment, you may want to try Native Remedies’ VertiFree™ Tablets for Common Vertigo Symptoms, which contain several homeopathic ingredients, including Cocculus indicus.
Studies show that certain herbs have a positive effect on specific Meniere’s symptoms. For example, ginger root can relieve Meniere’s-related nausea (11), and vinpocetine can improve tinnitus (14). Gingko biloba was also shown to temporarily ease tinnitus in some studies. A 2002 study, for example, showed that taking ginkgo supplements for 12 weeks lowered the volume of ear ringing in tinnitus sufferers (15). Native Remedies’ TinnaRex™ contains gingko biloba, along with other tinnitus-fighting herbs so you may want to give that a try to manage your Meniere’s disease.
If you’re ready to tame your Meniere’s symptoms naturally, try one (or more) of the safe and effective methods listed above. Although Meniere’s is a serious condition that can take a toll on your quality of life, many people have mastered their Meniere’s through lifestyle changes and natural remedies—so don’t give up hope!
- “Ménière’s Disease.” National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. N.D. Web 20 Jun. 2017. < https://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/menieres-disease;.
- “Meniere’s disease.” Mayo Clinic. N.D. Web 20 Jun. 2017. < http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/menieres-disease/basics/definition/con-20028251;.
- “Ménière’s Disease.” DrWeil.com. N.D. Web 20 Jun. 2017. <https://www.drweil.com/health-wellness/body-mind-spirit/ears-nose-throat/mnires-disease/;.
- Nordqvist, Christian. “Meniere’s Disease: Causes, Symptoms and Treatments.” Medical News Today. 14 Apr. 2016. Web 24 Jun. 2017. < http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/163888.php;.
- Boles R., et al. “Conservative management of Méniére’s disease: Furstenberg regimen revisited.” The Annals of Otology, Rhinology, and Laryngology. 01 Jul 1975, 84(4 Pt 1):513-517. doi: http://europepmc.org/abstract/MED/1155886. Web 24 Jun. 2017.
- “Meniere’s Disease.” University of Maryland Medical Center. N.D. Web 24 Jun. 2017. <http://www.umm.edu/programs/hearing/services/menieres-disease;.
- Packer, Lisa. “Research shows possible link between aspartame and tinnitus.” HealthyHearing.com. 1 Oct. 2015. Web 24 Jun. 2017. <http://www.healthyhearing.com/report/52544-Research-shows-a-possible-link-between-aspartame-and-tinnitus;.
- Derebery, M.J. “Allergic and Immunologic Aspects of Meniere’s Disease.” Otolaryngology–Head and Neck Surgery. 1 Mar. 1996. 114(3):360-365. doi: 10.1016/S0194-59989670204-8. Web 24 Jun. 2017.
- Naganuma H. , et al. “Water May Cure Patients With Meniere Disease.” The Laryngoscope. Aug. 2006. 116(8): 1455-1460. doi: 10.1097/01.mlg.0000225904.78569.0c. Web 24 Jun. 2017.
- “Tai Chi May Be An Effective Treatment For Dizziness, Balance Issues.” Science Daily. 5 Oct. 2009. Web 24 Jun. 2017. <https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2009/10/091004141000.htm;.
- Sen, P. and M Papesch. “Is There Any Evidence For Complementary And Alternative Therapy In Menieres Disease.” The Internet Journal of Otorhinolaryngology, 2004. 4(1). doi: http://ispub.com/IJORL/4/1/9465. Web 24 Jun. 2017.
- Long, A.F., et al. “Exploring the Evidence Base for Acupuncture in the Treatment of Ménière’s Syndrome—A Systematic Review.” Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine, 2011. doi:10.1093/ecam/nep047. Web 24 Jun. 2017.
- Steinberger, A. and M. Pansini. “The treatment of Meniere’s disease by acupuncture.” American Journal of Chinese Medicine. 1983;11(1-4):102-5. doi: 10.1142/S0192415X83000173. Web 24 Jun. 2017.
- Hahn, A., et al. “Multimodal Therapy for Chronic Tinnitus.” International Tinnitus Journal, 2008. 14(1): 69–72. doi: http://www.tinnitusjournal.com/articles/multimodal-therapy-for-chronic-tinnitus.pdf. Web 24 Jun. 2017.
- Morgenstern, C. and E. Biermann. “The efficacy of Ginkgo special extract EGb 761 in patients with tinnitus.” International Journal of Clinical Pharmacology Therapeutics. May 2002;40(5):188-97. doi: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12051570. Web 24 Jun. 2017.