Vertigo-the spinning illness
Filed under Clinical Cases
Vertigo is a sensation of spinning. The person will report that either the world seems to be spinning or he, himself, is spinning. A spinning sensation, therefore, is common to vertigo. It is difficult to prescribe on common symptoms as there are over six hundred homeopathic medicines that can cure vertigo. The trick, then, is to find one homeopathic medicine that closely corresponds to the person suffering from vertigo. To do so requires careful questioning of the patient and a detailed knowledge of the various homeopathic medicines.
True vertigo is not the same as dizziness which is a feeling of light-headedness or a faint feeling. Dizziness can occur from an emotional upset such as the sight of blood, from standing up too quickly, or from an illness such as the flu. Vertigo is significantly worse than dizziness and people with vertigo cannot walk or drive. It is sometimes referred to as “Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo.”
The homeopath does not treat vertigo per se, but instead pays attention to the symptoms accompanying the vertigo. As the accompanying symptoms will vary from one case of vertigo to the next, so will the curative homeopathic medicine vary.
A fifty-two year old woman caught cold and within three days developed debilitating vertigo. She had nausea with the vertigo. The vertigo was worse looking at something moving. Nausea with vertigo is common, vertigo worse when looking at a moving object is more unusual. As the mental state is often the key to a successful prescription, I asked about stress. It turned out her daughter had given birth to a baby girl, her first granddaughter, a month earlier. Her daughter was behaving irresponsibly, going out at night with her girlfriends to drink beer and coming in late. Other evenings, she took the small baby with her when she left to hang out with her friends. My patient was worried more for her granddaughter than her daughter. One night, her daughter came in after 1 a.m. and she only got three and a half hours of sleep. Two days later the vertigo began.
Her loss of sleep leading to vertigo was an important symptom. So was her worry and anxiety for her tiny granddaughter. These two factors pointed to Cocculus indicus. Cocculus also has vertigo worse from looking at a moving object.
She mentioned she had a lifelong tendency to carsickness and Cocculus is one of the principle medicines for motion sickness.
I consulted the Repertory and used the following rubrics (a symptom that appears in the Repertory is known as a rubric).
- Vertigo after loss of sleep,
- Vertigo looking at a moving object.
- Vertigo and nausea from riding in a car.
All rubrics contained Cocculus and Cocculus was given.
Twelve hours later, she reported the vertigo was mostly gone. ”It’s better, a lot better,” she said, “though I still have to be careful not to move too quickly.” Her head continued to feel “heavy,” a symptom she had not mentioned the day before but which is part of Cocculus symptomatology. Her appetite, which had been nil, was back, strongly, always a good sign. The vertigo stayed gone and the cold slowly resolved.
A very different vertigo required a different homeopathic medicine. A 59 year old woman called me early one morning as I was about to board a flight to Honduras. Though I had known her for over twenty years I could barely recognize her voice which sounded as though she was being strangled. She had woken at 5 a.m. with the room spinning. She got up, took a dose of Meclizine, a drug used to treat nausea, vomiting and dizziness of motion sickness. She went back to sleep only to wake forty-five minutes later from vertigo. “I felt the bed was spinning,” she said. She was unable to stand or lie down. She vomited which immediately triggered violent spasms in the throat interfering with her speech and breathing.
As I listened to her talking, I could tell she was having trouble speaking. There was an almost crowing sound as she breathed in. “When I inhale, I am straining to breathe,” she said. “It is as if someone is squeezing my throat.” The only position she could bear was sitting on the floor leaning against the bed. The vertigo was worse when she closed her eyes.
She was in a bad way suffering from what is known as “laryngospasm,” where the vocal cords involuntarily contract or spasm partially blocking the flow of air into the lungs. Laryngospasm can be caused by acid reflux. In her case, the vomitus irritated the vocal cords resulting in spasm. Laryngospasm typically subsides in a couple of minutes but her case was not typical as it was persisting.
I needed a homeopathic medicine that took into account both the vertigo and the laryngospasm. It had to act fast.
I consulted the repertory and chose the following rubrics (symptoms):
- VERTIGO – as if everything were turning in a circle
- VERTIGO – closing the eyes aggravates
- THROAT – spasms
The medicine selected was Belladonna which addressed all the symptoms. Belladonna is known for conditions which come on suddenly and violently. She took a dose (she had homeopathic medicines at home) at 7:30 a.m. Ten minutes later, she was already much better. By 10:30 a.m. she went to work.
Homeopathy: there is nothing like it in acute illness.