Could Vinpocetine Be Helpful for Vertigo?

Q Yesterday I was hit by a serious attack of vertigo, which is still affecting me; it has not gone away. I have no other symptoms except nausea, presumably caused by the vertigo. I’ve never had anything like this before. My guess is that it’s an inner ear disturbance of some kind. Are there any nutrients that might be helpful?

JAMES, Santa Rosa, CA

A Vertigo is the highly disorienting sensation that your surroundings are spinning (contrary to common belief, it is not the same as dizziness, which does not entail the whirling feelings). Vertigo is usually accompanied by nausea or upset stomach. It is most often caused by labyrinthitis, an inflammation of the inner ear that usually disappears spontaneously in about a week, although it can last for a month or more. Vertigo also commonly occurs as a condition known as benign positional vertigo, which is caused by an obstruction (usually temporary) in one of the semicircular canals in the labyrinth. But there are other causes of vertigo too, so in your best interest, please see a doctor first.

Vinpocetine has been used successfully for various hearing impairments related to the auditory sensory nerves, as well as for some ear diseases accompanied by vertigo, such as Ménière’s disease; it was shown to be superior to the vasodilators used at the time of the study in question.1 In patients suffering from tuberculosis, vinpocetine helped prevent hypoacusis (hearing impairment of a conductive or sensorineural nature) in patients with normal hearing, and it improved hypoacusis in patients who had it.2

Vinpocetine has also been used in the treatment of acoustic trauma with subsequent hearing loss and tinnitus (persistent noises, such as ringing, whistling, hissing, or roaring, in the ears).3 Tinnitus disappeared in 50% of the patients who started vinpocetine within one week of the trauma. For those who started later (even much later), 79% had improved hearing, and 66% had a significant decrease in the severity of the tinnitus.

Most of the literature on vinpocetine supports its use at 30–40 mg/day, divided into three or four doses.

References

  1. Ribari O, Zelen B, Kollar B. Ethyl apovincaminate in the treatment of sensorineural impairment of hearing. Arzneimittelforschung 1976;26(10a): 1977-80.
  2. Maliavina US, Ovchinnikov IuM, Fasenko VP, Maliev BM, Kalinina MV, Dadasheva BB. Cavinton prevention of neurosensory hypoacousis in patients with different forms of tuberculosis Vestn Otorinolaringol 2003;(3): 35-40.
  3. Konopka W, Zalweski P, Olszewski J, et al. Treatment of acoustic trauma. Otolaryngol Pol 1997;51:281S-284S.

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