As published in the February 2007 issue of Vitality Magazine
What is the meaning of my life? Many of us have been confronted with this great existential question which tends to surface when we’re feeling a lack of balance. According to psychoanalyst Danielle Quinodoz, the need to find a psychic meaning for our personal history may be the key to warding off the emotional anxiety which manifests in vertigo, or “loss of balance” in life.
The word vertigo is derived from the Latin vertere, to turn, reflecting the mistaken impression that our surroundings revolve around us. It refers to a disturbance of the perception of space combined with the illusion of movement.
Occurring without warning, vertigo can come and go unpredictably. It can be triggered by turning the head to one side, looking up or down, upon rising from bed, upon exertion, and even while sleeping, urinating or hearing loud noises. Vertigo can be accompanied with nausea, sensation of falling to one side, headaches and many other discomforts. Each person’s trigger and experience is often unique.
Most cases of vertigo, and those to which this article relates, are due to an inner ear problem and in most cases are not very serious. However, there are serious reasons for vertigo, such as stroke, brain tumours, low blood pressure, heart arrhythmias, multiple sclerosis and migraine headache. When experiencing vertigo, it is important to eliminate such serious causes by consulting a medical professional.
Our sense of balance depends on the coordination of data supplied by three sensory systems; the optokinetic apparatus (optical data), the proprioceptive apparatus (which supplies data about muscles and tendons and tells us about changes in the position of the body), and the vestibular apparatus (which comprises of the otolithic system and the semi-circular canals located in the internal ear which keep us informed about the static position of the head, bodily movement and gravitational pull). When these three systems supply coherent data, these data are integrated to provide us with a sense of balance. When one of these systems provides data that do not agree with those provided by the other two systems, then vertigo may ensue. The big question then becomes “what causes the distortion in the data provided?”
Homeopathy recognizes that the core issue in any chronic illness is due to an energy block at the physical or emotional levels. This energy block is often a consequence of emotional trauma such as loss, grief, anger, anxiety and depression. The feelings of trauma are stored in our cell memory and can spontaneously manifest in various physical discomforts including vertigo.
A 61 year old patient sought homeopathic treatment for his benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) as a last resort. This is a condition where calcium debris dislodges from the inner ear and strays into one of the fluid filled semicircular canals of the vestibular system. These microscopic flecks of calcium debris do not in themselves lead to problems, but sometimes in their meandering they brush against delicate, hair-like cells, sending misinformation to the brain.
Overwhelmed by vertigo and nausea, he had initially made an emergency visit to his doctor’s office. “I felt dim and lightheaded, like I was going to fade out,” he explained. The attack had begun out of the blue, while playing with his grandson. Lifting him high in the air, “I tilted my head back, and suddenly it seemed that my body was turning, and the room was spinning around.” After a few visits to specialists and several tests, he was diagnosed with BPPV.
He was instructed by his doctor to do the Epley maneuvers, which involve moving the head into four different positions sequentially, taking advantage of gravity to roll the calcium flecks out of the sensitive part of the canal to a place where they cause less trouble. The patient continued to have episodes of vertigo, despite the Epley maneuvers, which is when he came to see me.
During the homeopathic consultation I learned that shortly prior to the onset of his vertigo the patient had suffered huge emotional trauma – specifically anxiety – as a result of losing a considerable sum of money in the stock market. The homeopathic remedy Conium was chosen based on the specific symptoms of his vertigo, his unique expression of stress, as well as his personality and character. After three months of homeopathic treatment the patient was symptom free and feeling positive about the future.
In search of a natural solution for her vertigo, a thirty-six year old woman diagnosed with Ménière’s disease (a disorder where there is an imbalance in fluid pressure between two inner ear fluid chambers) came to see me a year ago. She was determined to heal herself rather than resorting to prescription drugs recommended by her doctor. Her vertigo episodes lasted anywhere from 20 minutes to 24 hours and felt debilitating. She also experienced a sensation of fullness, a buzzing noise and temporary hearing loss in one ear during the attacks of vertigo.
The initial interview revealed that she was going through a very stressful period in her life prior to the onset of her vertigo. She was faced with possibly losing her job, she was forced to move from her apartment, and her ten year old son had decided to live with his father after the divorce. As a result of her anxieties relating to her impending life changes, she had difficulty sleeping and concentrating at work.
What needed treatment in this case were her core anxieties around her life circumstances. The remedy Causticum was suited to her vertigo symptoms, her anxiety pattern and her personality in general. After five months of homeopathic treatment she felt calmer, happier and the ear symptoms together with the vertigo disappeared.
In my experience, all cases of vertigo have an underlying emotional disturbance associated with it. The person is usually threatened (consciously or unconsciously) with life’s demands and realities. Life feels unsafe and overwhelming. They are faced with a high intensity or high stakes decision, commitment or undertaking. As a result they experience vertigo or lose their sense of “balance in life”.
In Classical Homeopath there are many possible treatments for vertigo. Remedies are chosen according to the person’s specific physical symptoms and core emotional issues combined. Taking a carefully selected homeopathic remedy is synonymous to throwing a pebble in the very centre of a lake. The “ripples” created by the remedy meticulously and efficiently heal the entire organism from the inside out; mind body and spirit.
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