Do you often feel like everything around you is spinning or moving, causing you to lose your balance? You might have vertigo. In most cases, it will get better without treatment. However, essential oils might help relieve the symptoms. In this article, you’ll learn the basics of vertigo and some of the best essential oils for this condition.
- 1 Vertigo: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments
- 2 What causes vertigo?
- 3 Other possible causes of vertigo include:
- 4 Essential Oils for Vertigo Attacks
Vertigo: Symptoms, Causes, and Treatments
Vertigo is not a disease. Instead, it’s a symptom of certain illnesses, mostly those that affect the inner ear. The exact number of vertigo sufferers is not known because majority of vestibular disorders—referring to diseases or injuries of the brain and inner ear that control balance and eye movements—are underdiagnosed. It rarely affects young children. 1 It’s more common in people who are in their early 20s or beyond.
What does it feel like to have vertigo? If you have vertigo, you’ll most likely feel like as if you, or your surroundings, are spinning or pulled to one direction when you’re really sitting or standing still. Other symptoms that you might feel include nausea, headache, tinnitus (ringing in the ears) or hearing impairment, nystagmus (repetitive, involuntary eye movements), sweating, and vomiting.
An episode of vertigo could be abrupt and lasts for a few seconds to hours. If it’s mild, you’d barely notice it. However, severe cases of vertigo could affect balance and daily activities.
What causes vertigo?
Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), also called benign positional vertigo (BPV), is the most common cause of vertigo. People with BPPV experience brief bouts of mild to severe dizziness, which are caused by a change in the position of your head.
BPPV typically follows a neck or head injury. Other less common causes of BPPV are damaged inner ear, ear surgery, migraine, and positioning on your back for a long time.
Here’s how BPPV develops:
Your inner ear, also called the labyrinth, consists of three sections: the vestibule, the semicircular canals, and the cochlea:
- The vestibule is positioned in front of the semicircular canals and behind the cochlea. Its primary function is to sense changes in linear acceleration (referring to the change in speed in a straight line) and gravity.
- Meanwhile, the semicircular canals are fluid-filled tubes that’s responsible for your balance.
- The cochlea is a spiral-shaped structure that transforms vibrations into nerve impulses, which are sent to your brain to be analyzed.
When any part of your inner ear is damaged, it could lead to a host of minor to serious symptoms. In BPPV, calcium carbonate crystals, also called otoconia and ear rocks, break free and find their way to one of your semicircular canals. This disrupts the normal flow of fluid within this canal, so when you move your head—like when you turn over in bed—the loose calcium carbonate crystals affect your balance and trigger the moving or spinning sensation that’s associated with vertigo.
Other possible causes of vertigo include:
Labyrinthitis is an inner ear infection that’s typically caused by the cold or flu virus. When you have this condition, you may experience vertigo, dizziness, nausea and vomiting, poor balance, ringing or buzzing in your ear (tinnitus), high-frequency hearing loss in one ear, and inadequate eye focusing.
Symptoms of labyrinthitis will go away within 7 to 21 days. You can expect to fully recover within 1 to 2 months. Treatments may include medications for dizziness and nausea and prescription antihistamines (desloratadine).
Ménière’s disease is a rare and lifelong inner ear condition that causes vertigo, tinnitus, pressure in the ear, and fluctuating and progressive hearing loss. It can happen to anyone at any age, but it’s more common in people between the ages of 20 and 50.
There’s no cure for this condition. The goal of treatment is to reduce the frequency and severity of vertigo episodes. Some of the prescription medications used for relieving dizziness and shortening an episode include diazepam, lorazepam, meclizine, and glycopyrrolate.
Vestibular neuronitis happens when there’s an inflammation of your vestibular nerve, which delivers sound and balance (equilibrium) signals from your inner ear to your brain. Symptoms may include dizziness, nausea, vomiting, abrupt and severe vertigo, difficulty concentrating, and balance problems.
Treatment would include bed rest and medications (steroids, antiviral medications, antibiotics, and nausea and vomiting medications). Vestibular neuronitis typically resolves after a few weeks.
There’s a long list of medications that may cause dizziness or vertigo. Here are some of them:
- Painkillers (codeine)
- Antibiotics (sulfamethoxazole, aminoglycosides, and minocycline)
- Anti-inflammatories (prednisone, parecoxib, and celecoxib)
- Anticonvulsants (pregabalin and phenytoin)
- Gastrointestinal medications (sucralfate and omeprazole)
- Medications for heart diseases (furosemide, nifedipine, and prazosin)
The treatment for vertigo will depend on what’s causing it. In most cases, you don’t need any treatment because it will go away on its own. Your doctor may prescribe medications, special exercises (for improving your balance) and head movements, and treatments specific to the main cause of vertigo. You can also do something to alleviate the symptoms of vertigo, such as:
- Lying in bed (preferably in a quiet, dimly lit room)
- Moving your head slowly and carefully
- Relax to relieve stress or anxiety
Now, let’s discuss some of the essential oils that may help alleviate vertigo and its other associated symptoms.
Essential Oils for Vertigo Attacks
Ginger Essential Oil
Ginger essential oil can have a positive impact on emotions and sleep. When used in aromatherapy, it’s believed to alleviate anxiety, depression, and fatigue, as well as promote better sleep due to its warming quality.
Like fresh ginger, the essential oil has been widely used in supporting healthy digestion and treating digestive problems. Studies have suggested that the active compounds in ginger essential oil, particularly gingerol, can safely treat nausea and vomiting caused by pregnancy or chemotherapy. 2
- Add 4 drops of ginger essential oil, 3 drops of lemon essential oil, and 2 drops of lavender essential oil into a diffuser. Diffuse for 20 to 30 minutes as necessary to relieve nausea and feelings of spinning.
- Pour 2 teaspoons of coconut oil into an amber glass bottle with dropper. Add 3 drops of ginger essential oil. Gently shake the bottle or use a stainless-steel stirrer to mix the oils. Apply a small amount on your inner forearm and wait for 30 minutes to 12 hours to test for allergies. Then, massage 1 to 2 drops on your stomach and temples to get rid of anxiety and nausea.
Because it’s phototoxic, ginger essential oil may trigger allergic reactions when your skin is exposed to ultraviolet light (like from the sun). Avoid ingesting it without the supervision of a qualified aromatherapist because it can cause ulcers, heartburn, and nausea.
Lavender Essential Oil
There are many ways lavender essential oil can help with vertigo. In aromatherapy, it’s used to induce sleep and alleviate stress and anxiety disorders. It might even be a possible alternative to medications for anxiety, particularly lorazepam (Ativan), without the possibility of causing addiction. 3
Some people with vertigo might also suffer from tinnitus (ringing in the ears). In some cases, low doses of medications for anxiety, such as diazepam (Valium), can reduce the ringing or buzzing in the ears. Placing a medication containing steroid and alprazolam (an anti-anxiety medication) in the middle ear has also shown to be effective for some people.
You can also use this to treat migraines and headaches. In a study published in the European Neurology, one group of migraine sufferers was asked to inhale lavender essential oil for 15 minutes. 4 The result was positive, causing the researchers to suggest that lavender essential oil is a possible treatment for migraine.
- Diffuse 4 drops of high-grade lavender essential oil for 20 to 30 minutes to help you relax and sleep. You can combine it with essential oils that’ll help you concentrate and feel energized, such as lemon essential oil, rosemary essential oil, peppermint essential oil, and frankincense essential oil.
- If you don’t have a diffuser, or if you lead a busy and active life, you can take advantage of the medicinal properties of lavender essential oil by making an inhaler. Simply soak a cotton wick in a bowl containing 5 to 10 drops of lavender essential oil and peppermint essential oil. Use tweezers to put the cotton wick inside a blank inhaler tube. Place the cap in the bottom.
- To relieve a headache, massage 1 to 2 drops of diluted lavender essential oil on your temples, between your eyebrows, above your nose bridge, and the back of your neck.
Lavender essential oil is generally safe, even in pregnant women who are in their second or third trimester. 5 In rare instances, it might cause headaches, nausea, vomiting, and chills. Younger boys might develop gynecomastia (enlarged breasts), so they should avoid using this. If you’re taking any medication for sleep or anxiety, avoid using this because it will enhance the effects of whatever you’re taking.
Basil Essential Oil
Can’t focus on what you’re doing because of dizzy spells? Stressed out? Basil essential oil is a good option. When inhaled, its stimulating properties can keep you alert and energized. Some people use it to unwind and remove anxious thoughts, fear, nervousness, and other negative emotions.
Labyrinthitis, one of the common causes of vertigo, often follows a respiratory viral infection, such as the common cold and the flu. Basil essential oil is used as a natural cold or flu remedy due to its ability to fight off viruses. 6
Sometimes, it’s used as an ear infection remedy. In one study that used an animal model, researchers discovered that basil essential oil was able to heal more than half of the animal subjects with middle ear infections caused by the bacteria H. influenzae (Haemophilus influenzae). 7
- Get the most benefit from basil essential oil by combining it with other essential oils, such as eucalyptus, lavender rosemary, lemon, hyssop, clary sage, geranium, marjoram, neroli, juniper, bergamot, and clove bud.
- Dilute 3 drops of basil essential oil, 3 drops of rosemary essential oil, and 2 drops of lavender essential oil in 4 teaspoons of fractionated coconut oil. Perform a skin patch test before rubbing a drop or two on your stomach, temples, between your eyebrows, and above your nose bridge to relieve stress and headaches.
- For ear infections, dilute 1 drop of basil essential oil and 1 drop of tea tree oil in 2 teaspoons of carrier oil (olive oil, jojoba oil, or coconut oil). Apply a small amount on your inner forearm to see how your skin will react to the essential oils. If your skin doesn’t become inflamed or irritated within 12 to 24 hours, the oil blend should be safe to use. Soak a cotton ball in the mixture, and then place it in your ear. (Don’t shove it into your ear.) By doing this, you’ll allow the essential oils to dribble slowly into your ear canal.
When used topically for a short period, basil essential oil is generally safe. Don’t ingest it without the supervision of a qualified aromatherapist because it could cause diarrhea, palpitation (heart beating too fast or too hard), convulsion, dizziness, and nausea.
Peppermint Essential Oil
Peppermint essential oil is often used to relieve a migraine and tension headache due to its soothing effect and analgesic (painkiller) compounds, such as menthol. The result of a study published in the Schmerz reveals that peppermint essential oil is a possible remedy for a tension-type headache. 8 Also, it suggests that it could be as effective as over-the-counter pain relievers, particularly acetylsalicylic acid and paracetamol.
Inhaling it can improve your concentration and boost your energy levels. Thus, it can be very beneficial when you’re exhausted, stressed, or feeling nauseated. Combine it with spearmint essential oil to make it more effective in treating nausea and vomiting. 9
- To ease headaches and tension: Dilute 2 drops of peppermint essential oil and 2 drops of eucalyptus essential oil in 2 teaspoons of carrier oil (coconut oil, jojoba oil, or almond oil). Perform a skin patch test prior to liberal application. Then, massage a drop or two of the mixture on your wrists, temples, between your eyebrows, and above your nose bridge.
- To relieve dizziness or nausea: Massage a few drops of diluted peppermint essential oil on your abdomen, back of your neck, and bottoms of your feet. Add 1 drop of essential oil for every teaspoon of carrier oil to make a 1% dilution. You can also put 3 to 4 drops in your diffuser then let it run for 20 to 30 minutes, every 2 hours.
Improper use of peppermint essential oil may cause low heart rate (less than 60 beats per minute), nausea, skin irritation, headache, breathing difficulties, nose blisters, and/or seizure. Don’t use it if you’re pregnant or breastfeeding or have a medical problem, such as diabetes, gallstones, gastroesophageal reflux disease, and diseases affecting the stomach and intestines.
Rosemary Essential Oil
You may know of rosemary essential oil for its ability to stimulate hair growth. However, it has other therapeutic properties that may help prevent or manage vertigo.
As what you’ve learned, stress and anxiety can trigger vertigo or make it worse. Rosemary essential oil is energizing, making it an ideal choice for fighting mental fatigue. And when you inhale it for 5 minutes along with lavender essential oil, it can help lower stress. 10 Thus, you can avoid health issues associated with chronic stress, such as vertigo.
It’s also an effective painkiller and anti-inflammatory when used topically. One of its major active compounds, camphor, improves blood circulation and acts as a “counterirritant,” which means it irritates the surface of the skin to distract your brain from the pain or discomfort. Use it alone or in combination with other essential oils to relieve some of the symptoms that come with vertigo, such as headaches, nausea, and vomiting.
- Dilute 4 drops of rosemary essential oil, 3 drops of lemon essential oil, and 3 drops of peppermint essential oil in 4 teaspoons of almond oil. Massage 1 to 2 drops on your temples, stomach, wrists, and the back of your neck. The massaging action and therapeutic aroma of the essential oils will help relieve nausea, vomiting, and headaches.
- Diffuse 3 to 4 drops of rosemary essential oil, tea tree oil, and frankincense essential oil in your home or office to relieve nausea, dizziness, and stress, as well as kill any cold or flu viruses that stay suspended in the air.
Consuming rosemary essential oil is not advisable because of its camphor content. It could cause convulsion, damaged kidney, and spasms. In some cases, death. If you have blood sugar problems or are pregnant, avoid using this essential oil. Also, always perform a skin patch test to make sure you’re not allergic to it.
Frankincense Essential Oil
Whenever you feel overwhelmed with stress—at work and in your personal life—use frankincense essential oil. This essential oil has been used since the ancient times to dispel negative emotions and promote mental relaxation. Just apply diluted frankincense essential oil to different parts of your body or diffuse a few drops via a vaporizer to take advantage of its stimulating and comforting properties.
How does it work? The theory is the powerful aroma of frankincense essential oil stimulates the brain’s limbic system, which is responsible for our memories, emotions, and arousal.
Is your vertigo due to a cold or flu? Frankincense essential oil might help shorten its duration. Aside from helping you breathe better and expelling mucus from your airways, it can also help you fight the infection because of its strong anti-inflammatory and immune system-enhancing properties. 11
- Diffuse 5 drops of chamomile essential oil, 3 drops of frankincense essential oil, and 1 drop of grapefruit essential oil for 20 to 30 minutes, every 2 hours. This blend works great for relieving nausea and uplifting your mood whenever you’re stressed out.
- Try making an aromatherapy spray to keep the air clean and fresh, while preventing the spread of the cold or flu virus. Start by adding 12 teaspoons (2 ounces) of distilled water and 6 teaspoons (1 ounce) of vodka to a 4-ounce amber glass spray bottle. Add 5 to 15 drops of frankincense essential oil, eucalyptus essential oil, and lemon essential oil. Gently shake the bottle or use a stainless-steel stirrer to mix all the ingredients.
Some of the possible side effects of frankincense essential oil are stomach pain, bloating, excessive stomach acid, nausea, and minor rashes. This is likely unsafe for pregnant or breastfeeding women, people who are taking blood thinners (anticoagulants), and people who have a blood disorder. Don’t take this internally without consulting your doctor or a qualified aromatherapist.
Cypress Essential Oil
Cypress essential oil may not be one of the most popular essential oils out there, but don’t dismiss it so quickly. It contains various medicinal properties that may prevent or treat vertigo and its associated symptoms.
Cypress essential oil has a spicy, herb-like, and mildly woody aroma that’s described as calming, refreshing, and uplifting. These qualities make it a perfect option whenever you have trouble sleeping or are overwhelmed by negative emotions and stress, which could trigger vertigo.
Cypress essential oil is also used for supporting a healthy respiratory system throughout the year. In a study published in the Complementary & Alternative Medicine, researchers found out that cypress essential oil can prevent the growth of certain bacteria. 12 Coupled with its anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties, it can potentially prevent or treat bacterial respiratory infections.
- There are different ways you could use cypress essential oil to combat vertigo. When you’re anxious or fatigued—which could trigger another episode of vertigo—diffuse 5 to 7 drops of cypress essential oil in your home or office to keep you calm and energized. If you want, add other mood-enhancing and medicinal essential oils, such as frankincense, lavender, chamomile, bergamot, peppermint, cedarwood, and lemon.
- Protect yourself from respiratory infections that may cause vertigo by using this blend: add equal parts of cypress essential oil, eucalyptus essential oil, lemon essential oil, and rosemary essential oil to your preferred diffuser or a bowl of steaming, non-scalding water. You could also pour 3 ounces of vodka (or vinegar) and coconut oil in an amber glass spray bottle then add these essential oils one drop at a time. Use this blend to disinfect items in your home that are exposed to respiratory viruses or bacteria.
Diluted cypress essential oil is likely safe if you use it topically. Make sure to perform a skin patch test and see if you develop an allergic reaction. However, it’s often not recommended for pregnant women because of its ability to regulate menstrual period.
Melissa (Melissa officinalis) Essential Oil
Melissa, also called as lemon balm or balm mint, is used in traditional medicine to treat various health problems, including headaches, nausea, insomnia, anxiety, dementia, high blood pressure, and diabetes. 13 A study published in the Journal of Biodiversity and Environmental Sciences suggests that Melissa officinalis leaves and the oil extracted from these leaves have been used as a treatment for vertigo for hundreds of years. 14 Melissa essential oil helps by relieving vertigo-related nausea and dizziness.
It also has sedative, anti-anxiety, and antidepressant properties. 15 These qualities may help lessen episodes of vertigo or lessen its effects.
Researchers have also evaluated melissa essential oil for its ability to fight bacterial infections. They’ve identified three chemical compounds in melissa essential oil that are known for their antimicrobial actions: citral, citronellal, and trans-caryophyllene. 16 Because of this, melissa essential oil might be beneficial when it comes to treating infections that may contribute to vertigo, such as the common cold and the flu, although more peer-reviewed studies are necessary to prove this.
- Diffuse 3 drops of melissa essential oil, 2 drops of lavender essential oil, and 2 drops of peppermint essential oil for 20 minutes to 30 minutes to get rid of vertigo and lessen feelings of stress. If you don’t have a diffuser, you can simply add 1 to 2 drops of each essential oil to a paper towel or cotton ball then place it inside a self-sealing plastic bag.
- If you’re feeling nauseated, rub a few drops of an oil blend containing melissa essential oil and ginger essential oil on your stomach, back of your neck, and bottoms of your feet.
Melissa essential oil has no known severe side effects. However, it may sensitize or irritate the skin, especially if it’s used undiluted and in high concentrations. Always perform a skin patch test and speak with a qualified aromatherapist and health care professional before using it internally or externally to avoid adverse reactions.
Note: Some shady suppliers may sell adulterated melissa essential oil. They usually use citrus essential oils or lemongrass essential oil in exchange for this essential oil. Buy only from reputable brands or resellers.
Thyme Essential Oil
Thyme essential oil is known as a stress-reliever. When used aromatically or topically, it can leave you feeling calm, energized, and focused.
It’s also used to treat a great number of ailments, including nausea, respiratory infections (such as the common cold), depression, dysmenorrhea, and joint diseases (such as gout). Most of its medicinal benefits are attributed to its volatile compounds, particularly thymol, camphene, and alpha-pinene. 17 These compounds support immune system function with their antifungal and antibacterial activities. That’s why thyme essential oil can effectively protect your body from internal and external infections.
- Protect yourself from respiratory problems that may cause vertigo. Simply add 2 to 4 drops of thyme essential oil and eucalyptus essential oil to a diffuser or a bowl of steaming, non-scalding water for steam inhalation therapy.
- Keep your immune system healthy by mixing 3 drops of thyme essential oil, 2 drops of lavender essential oil, and 2 drops of Roman chamomile essential oil in 4 to 6 teaspoons of any mild carrier oil. Massage on your inner ankle, below your knees, the webbing between your big and small toes, and under your collar bones.
- Due to its pain-relieving and anti-inflammatory properties, thyme essential oil can be used to relieve vertigo-related headache. Just dilute 1 to 2 drops of thyme essential oil and rosemary essential oil in 2 teaspoons of carrier oil. Perform a skin patch test to see how your skin will react to the essential oils. If you don’t develop an allergic reaction, apply a drop or two of the blend on your temples, forehead, and the back of your neck.
Thyme essential oil may cause some people to experience vomiting, dizziness, and/or skin irritations. Never use it undiluted on your skin. Always perform a skin patch test prior to liberal application to see if you develop an allergic reaction.
Aside from children and pregnant or breastfeeding women, it’s also not recommended for people with abnormally high blood pressure, thyroid disease, abnormally slow heart beat (less than 60 beats per minute), digestion issues, and sensitivities to plants belonging in the Lamiaceae family (lavender, basil, sage, and rosemary).
Vertigo: When to See Your Doctor
Vertigo normally goes away without causing serious complications. Essential oils can help alleviate vertigo and other symptoms that are related to this condition, but they don’t treat the root cause.
Also, there are less common and life-threatening diseases that may trigger vertigo, such as stroke or tumors (cancerous or noncancerous). Seek immediate medical help if you experience any of these symptoms:
- Persistent vertigo
- Severe headache
- Vomiting and nausea
- An abnormally high body temperature and chills
What are your favorite home remedies for vertigo? Have you tried any of these essential oils to treat your symptoms? I’d like to hear from you, so don’t forget to leave a comment or two below.
 University of Iowa Hospitals & Clinics: https://uihc.org/health-topics/vertigo-frequently-asked-questions
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