Meniere’s disease is usually characterized by a sudden onset of severe vertigo that can last for several hours accompanied by nausea and vomiting, tinnitus, loss of hearing and a feeling of pressure in the ear. It is typically one-sided. The etiology of Meniere’s disease in Western medicine is unknown and treatment is usually focused on symptomatic relief by prescribing various drugs such as antihistamines and valium.
Chinese medicine diagnosis will determine one of four possible underlying patterns of imbalance that could be the cause of the symptoms of Meniere’s:
If the patient has a red complexion, red tongue with yellow coating, a wiry, rapid pulse, bitter taste in the mouth, loud tinnitus and is easily angered – this would be a case of Liver Yang flaring up. If the patient has a white or sallow complexion, a fat, pale tongue that has a scalloped edge, a thin, weak pulse, dizziness that is worse when the patient is fatigued, and tinnitus that is not loud, but continuous – this would be a case of Qi and Blood deficiency. If the patient is plagued by low back and knee pain, low sex drive, impaired memory, and a marked decrease in hearing during the attacks – this person may be diagnosed with a Kidney Essence deficincy. And lastly, if the patient has a slimey, white tongue coating, soggy, slow pulse, poor appetite, tinnitus with a low sound, and nausea and vomiting predominate – this person could have a diagnosis of phlegm obstruction.
Treatment for each of these patterns with acupuncture and herbs would be slightly different to address both the symptoms and the underlying cause. But, here is one moxa treatment that could benefit all patterns. There is an acupuncture point on top of the head, the most yang part of the body, called “hundred meetings”, or DU-20. This point has a powerful effect to regulate the yang of the body, and to strenghthen the Qi, Blood and Kidney Essence.
Have the patient sit in a chair and cut the hair about one centimeter around the DU-20 point. Use a piece of foil to protect the hair, cutting out a hole in the center to expose Du-20. Smooth an ointment over the point to protect the skin and to provide a sticky surface to place the small moxa cones on end. Burn 50 moxa cones the size of a grain of rice one at a time over the point. I light the tip of the cone with an incense stick. When it gets down to the end and becomes too hot, be prepared to scoop the remainder of the cone off the point. A scab may form and fall off within one month, but this is meant to be a direct non-scarring moxa treatment. One treatment should be enough. Studies have shown that this treatment is 98% effective to relieve the symptoms of meniere’s!
I use Ching Wan Hung as my ointment of choice. Ching Wan Hung is one of China’s major herbal medicines for burns – first, second and even third degree burns. It is also great for sunburns, psoriasis, eczema and festering sores. It is a good product for every acupuncturist to have on hand for use in the office or to provide to their patients.