My goal is to help others (maybe that’s you!) who are suffering from Meniere’s disease, severe allergies or other autoimmune conditions. The common denominator in all of these is inflammation. Eating clean and finding natural solutions to manage these has been my key to success. By eating clean, you minimize or eliminate the foods or external allergens/toxins that could be contributing to inflammation thereby reducing or even eliminating symptoms. The important thing through all of this is to listen to your body. Only YOU know when something is affecting you. The catch is to find it and until you do, don’t stop looking for the root cause. This is true for all ailments really. It truly is the only way you’ll find the key combinations to help you heal. Some of you, like me, might be able to discontinue the use of all prescription medications. Others, may find a balance between natural methods (including clean eating) and a small amount of medications. The moral of the story is to do what works for you.
Here’s the “short” list of things I’ve tried in an effort to improve my Meniere’s and allergy symptoms as I’ve mentioned that these are interrelated. I’ve read studies that indicate upwards of about 80% of Meniere’s sufferers have an allergic component that triggers their symptoms so these solutions are inclusive of both Meniere’s symptoms and how they relate to allergies. I have additional allergy solutions here. I’ve included a brief description as to why these could work for you, and if it worked or didn’t work for me. Remember, each of you is an individual and the root cause for your symptoms may differ from mine. Just because something wasn’t as successful as I’d like it be, it’s definitely worth exploring to see if it’s a solution for you. Each experience led me to new conclusions and directed a new path for me to explore, ultimately leading me to a place where I feel I am FINALLY beginning to heal and manage both Meniere’s disease and allergies in a positive, permanent way.
Healing with Food – This by far the BEST method I’ve found of helping your body heal and manage symptoms of Meniere’s and allergies. By eating a more whole foods diet, you give your body the nourishment it needs to start the healing process. Your body is already programmed to know how to heal itself, it just needs the proper tools. Many diseases (like Meniere’s) are rooted in inflammation which can stem from multiple sources but are often instigated by what we eat resulting in a permeable gut lining. A permeable intestinal lining can cause inflammation and food sensitivities among other things. Non-pharmaceutical approaches like eating clean, getting plenty of probiotics and avoiding inflammatory foods may have significant downstream effects in repairing damaged intestinal lining thereby reducing inflammation. Your body will then be able to focus on what’s important and function at its optimum level. This is a very good thing.
To jump start your healing, I’d recommend doing a 30 day food challenge called the Whole30 (book available here). Some of you may also be interested in a temporary restrictive way of eating called the AutoImmune Protocol (AIP for short) which is specifically aimed at healing autoimmune disorders (like Meniere’s) with nutrient dense foods.
Get a good ENT (Otolaryngologist) – An ENT who is supportive of your ideas and can intelligently converse about different options that might work for you is indispensable. I often bring ideas I’ve researched to my doctor (some conventional and some more alternative) and discuss with him. He is always supportive and will do additional research if he doesn’t have the background in a given area of a natural healing method to be sure he has no objections in the rare event that it could do me harm. If he has other suggestions, he mentions them to me as well. I, in turn, listen and will often try his suggestions. The decision on how to treat my Meniere’s symptoms is ultimately mine and he supports it fully.
Myringotomy (ear tubes) – My ENT had suggested placing an ear tube in my left ear (the one with definite Meniere’s) while I was pregnant with my son. It worked WONDERS. Almost instantaneously, the pressure was gone and I had a restored sense of balance. It was a Godsend. I would highly recommend talking to your ENT about this procedure if you have dizziness daily and are looking for another way to avoid drug therapy.
Find an Allergist – For anyone with Meniere’s or severe allergies, I suggest finding an allergist who listens to you and is enthusiastic about your healing. This is important as studies show there is a very strong link between those having Meniere’s also having allergies either seasonal or food related. Allergies are often a source of inflammation and for those of us with Meniere’s, that inflammation ends up in our inner ear/sinuses and causes the symptoms identifiable as Meniere’s disease. I can’t live without my allergist, seriously. He is ultimately the cornerstone who started this little seed of clean eating in my mind and helped it grow to its full healing potential. With his guidance, I was able to cut out all allergy medications and I currently undergo immunotherapy shots once a month as they have helped me tenfold. In part because of this therapy, I can now clean my house without experiencing serious allergic reactions and dizziness due to my dust allergies. My allergist also was the key to finding a great ENT who would work with me and my natural solutions.
Chiropractic – I had read in numerous reports that a correctly aligned spine, namely in the top few vertebrae was incredibly important for proper inner ear and sinus function and for your system to handle allergens. The first x-ray I had at my initial chiropractic appointment indicated some spinal subluxation (misalignment) and a severe backwards curve of a negative 7 degrees at the neck. A fully functionally normal spine is supposed to be at a positive 45 degrees neck curve. Yikes. Fast forward a few years and my spine is nearly straight in its vertical alignment and my neck curve is nearly 35 degrees in the positive direction which is a SIGNIFICANT improvement. The nerves are no longer being squished and can now operate near normal. I do believe that a good portion of my improvement in dizziness, ear ringing, and dealing with allergies (all controlled by the function of nerves in the upper few vertebrae) is due to a properly aligned spine. My chiropractor has also been a huge influence in educating me on the effects of clean eating.
Have an Evaluation done for TMJ – TMJ and Meniere’s share a number of symptoms and as a result, many TMJ sufferers are misdiagnosed with Meniere’s. Much in the same manner that a spinal misalignment in the upper cervical vertebrae can cause vertigo and poor nerve operation in the ears, the same is true with misalignment of bones and structures in your jaw even if you don’t have jaw pain. It’s worth getting an evaluation from a TMJ specialist to see if this may be the root cause of your symptoms. If so, treatment for TMJ may be part of the answer to significantly reduce your symptoms.
Acupuncture – overall a positive experience. I was originally hoping that it would help eliminate my Meniere’s symptoms but it didn’t. That’s okay. The use of acupuncture did permanently eliminate the carpal tunnel I had developed in my right hand. Acupuncture is significantly helpful when I have an impending sinus infection. Thankfully, through eating clean, I haven’t had that happen in a LONG time.
Food and Environmental Exposures Journal – If you have Meniere’s disease (or any other autoimmune disease including allergies) it’s important to figure out what triggers the onset of symptoms or creates an increase in your symptoms. To do this is pretty easy but it is time consuming. Get a notebook and for a month, document the foods you eat, the products you put on your body (lotions/laundry detergents/deodorant), the weather conditions, and the other environmental items you are exposed to like the perfume counter in a dept store, being outside during allergy season, being in a library that has old musty/dusty books. Also be sure to document any symptoms each day at multiple times of day. From this, you can start to see a pattern. For me, I noticed I got itchy eyes and congestion resulting in an uptick of Meniere’s symptoms after being in a library reading old books or cleaning my house. From there, I figured out I was probably allergic to dust. An allergy test confirmed this. I also learned from this experience that not all reactions happen immediately after exposure as is the case with food sensitivities. An allergic reaction will typically happen within a few hours of being exposed but a sensitivity can occur up to 3 or 4 days later. For me, my tendency to react to dairy happened about 6 hours after ingesting and caused tingling sinuses, congestion, an increase in ear ringing and ear fullness which then occasionally caused Meniere’s vertigo. This would last about a day if I had a large amount of dairy and then would gradually subside. If you have suspected food sensitivities, I strongly recommend an elimination diet to find out for sure what is causing them. This is the gold standard in the allergy world for determining food sensitivities.
Biofeedback Therapy -The therapy I tried is called Nano SRT and it involves mini electric impulses fed to and from your body to discover sensitivities that may be causing your Meniere’s or allergy symptoms and lessen your response to them. I do think this has helped me but hasn’t fully healed my allergies. I can finally have the windows open during allergy season which I hadn’t been able to do in many years. I also had my son do this and he can now eat green peppers without breaking out in hives. He still tests positive for peanut and almond so I haven’t tried to give them those food items yet but the therapy has seemed to eliminate the allergic response he used to have for green peppers. Another method of biofeedback that I have heard of but have not personally tried is NAET. I’ve read a number of testimonials indicating success. Might be worth trying.
Essential Oils – I use essential oils for making cleaning solutions, homemade deodorant and for health. There are so many helpful oils out there and each has a different purpose. If you’d like a reference book, this one is the one I have and use regularly. For the purpose of sinus congestion due to allergies or a cold, I combine a few drops of lemon eucalyptus, and peppermint oil with a few drops of carrier oil such as almond oil and massage onto my temples, the sides of my face near your jaw/ear intersection and on my neck/chest. This helps open airways and encourage drainage of your sinuses. Less pressure in my sinuses means less pressure in my ears which for me, means less dizziness. YAY!
Oil Pulling – This is an old Ayurvedic remedy that helps clear your sinuses. To do this, take a spoonful of oil (I use coconut oil but you can use sesame or olive oil too) and swish it in your mouth for 10-20 minutes and then spit it out into the trash. The idea is that the bacteria in your mouth that cause bad breath and oral health issues cling to the oil and are then discarded rather than swallowed. I do this from time to time and can say it definitely makes your mouth feel cleaner and I have noticed that my sinuses drain more effectively after oil pulling which may be just due to the mechanics of moving your jaw to swish. It is also possible that the lessening of bacteria in your mouth leads to less bacteria in your sinuses by virtue that they are connected and therefore can avoid sinus infection.There are some other claims that oil pulling has positive effects beyond oral health but I can’t attest for that. Really, there’s nothing bad that can come of oil pulling so why not check it out?
Sinus Steaming – This is an easy tool for helping clean out your sinuses. I personally can’t use a neti-pot or similar sinus rinses as I notice I get dizzy soon after doing so (possibly from the pressure change of having the solution poured into my sinuses??). Therefore, I sought out another method of clearing sinuses that didn’t include putting liquids up my nose. Sinus steaming is simple. Get a cup of water and heat it to steaming. You can add a few drops of a disinfecting essential oil if you want such as oregano or tea tree oil. Then sit at the table with the cup in front of you and lean your head over the cup close enough that you can feel the steam entering your sinuses when you breathe in. It helps to drape a towel over your head to create a little sauna effect. I’ve found that this not only helps to dislodge any congestion but also is meditative and stress relieving. All wins in my book!
Vestibular Rehabilitation – Simply stated, you gotta keep moving. Movement keeps your vestibular system in tune by forcing it to continue learning and negotiating balance. There are formal programs that your ENT can suggest for this but I opted not to do the formal therapy. Instead, I purchased an Xbox 360 with Kinnect (a device where you control the gaming system with your body movements) and got a few games like sports and Zumba that require continual movement. Yoga or Tai Chi are also great balance and movement related activities. Another thing I’ve recently been doing is to jump on a trampoline that we bought for the kids. Plus it’s fun and good exercise! I do believe that practicing movement (especially when I’m mildly off balance) really helps my system figure out what to do with those mixed movement signals and consequently, I end up feeling less dizzy than I started and over time have noticed my balance is improving. Of course, if you’re in the midst of a more significant spell of vertigo, lay down and wait it out. Moving when you feel like that is just gonna make you barf. Nobody wants to do that.
Supplements – There are a few supplements that I strongly believe in to support Meniere’s disease. I think the best place to gain nutrients is through food but sometimes you need a little help. Below I’ve listed a few reported benefits of each supplement. I don’t take all of these all the time but the top five are a daily thing for me. Note that these listed often have many more health benefits but I’ve specifically highlighted the reasons they may work for Meniere’s.
- Whole Food Multi-Vitamin – this is a great place to start to be sure you’re getting a well-rounded and synergistic assortment of necessary vitamins.
- Vitamin D3 – this is an immune system superhero being anti-viral and anti-inflammatory among other things. A number of studies show that optimizing your vitamin D3 levels has a profound effect on health. Some have even suggested that hearing loss can be reversed or at least prevented. I have found that spending more time in the sun (without sunscreen!!) has helped me a lot as your body naturally makes D3 but during the winter months, I supplement with vitamin D3.
- Vitamin K2 – if you’re supplementing with D3, you’ll create a need for additional K2 so I take this in combination with D3 when I supplement. K2 is fat soluble and works synergistically with D3 and calcium to aid in absorption.
- Vitamin C – another immune system powerhouse. Is also anti-inflammatory and anti-viral. There are some whose Meniere’s can be caused by a viral inflammation such as herpes in the inner ear. This can help immensely in those cases.
- Magnesium –studies have shown to prevent against hearing loss and even help correct noise related hearing loss. I’ve noticed that the ringing in my ears is significantly lower when I’m regularly taking magnesium and I also feel much less off balance. This one is a must-have for me!
- Calcium – helps the nervous system work more effectively.
- Fish Oil/Krill Oil – contains omega 3’s which are linked to improved immunity and reduces symptoms of autoimmune diseases, and decreases inflammation.
- NAC (N-Acetyl Cysteine) – powerful antioxidant targeting the neural system. Helps heal damaged cells (there have been studies indicating that this can help repair hearing loss), reduces inflammation and regenerates liver function which is important for detoxification.
- Alpha Lipoic Acid – anti-inflammatory and has a strong ability to neutralize effects of oxidative stress particularly in its ability to promote healthy nerve function.
- L-Glutamine – this little guy aids in muscle repair. The reason I include this one is to help repair a potentially damaged intestinal lining. Many studies point to this damage being responsible for the development of new allergies/sensitivities particularly to food. So healing this lining is critical for the elimination or minimizing of food sensitivity symptoms and therefore minimizing Meniere’s vertigo for me.
- Ginger Root – great for nausea/motion sickness which is why I take it for Meniere’s. Ginger root also fights inflammation and can boost circulation. Also relieves bloating and other digestive issues.
- Garlic Oil – supports a healthy immune system. Garlic has anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-viral properties making it ideal for anyone with immune issues. Take this as a capsule or just eat more garlic with your food.
- L-Lysine – anti-viral in nature so can help for those with Meniere’s symptoms that may be caused by a viral infection. It didn’t do anything for me so I concluded that the triggers for my symptoms were not viral. Worth trying though!
- Beta Glucans – boosts immune system through its ability to help fight infections both bacterial and viral. It can help prevent future infections as well.
- Grape Seed Extract – high in polyphenols and bioflavanoids which are potent antioxidants. This has anti-inflammatory, anti-histamine and anti-microbial properties.
- Citrus Bioflavanoids – antioxidant that improves capillary permeability to allow nutrients to get to the organs and tissues they need to get to and improves blood flow due to its anti-inflammatory properties.
- Ginko Biloba – improves circulation which in turn promotes proper cell growth and organ function. Poor circulation has been known to be a cause of Meniere’s symptoms. This one actually made me feel worse so I discontinued its use but it could work for you.
- Vinpocetine – improves circulation which in turn promotes proper cell growth and organ function. Poor circulation has been known to be a cause of Meniere’s symptoms.**before you take any supplements, be sure you consult a professional on any dosages and to ensure they do not interact unfavorable with any other supplements or medications that you are taking. Also, if you take a multi-vitamin, check that the dosage in the multivitamin combined with any additional supplement does not exceed the recommended dosage.
** as always, check with a professional (or be sure you do your research!!) before adding herbal supplements to be sure they do not interact with any medications or other supplements you are currently taking.
Reduce or Eliminate Ongoing Medications – I wouldn’t recommend this without a few months of eating clean under your belt and with a doctor’s guidance. The biggest thing that got me thinking (and over the fear) about doing this was the fact that pharmaceuticals are intended to STOP a naturally occurring reaction in your body – a reaction that is supposed to happen in order to protect you. Medications are essentially a toxin that interferes with your body’s God-given natural responses. This may or may not be a good thing. Take antihistamines for example…. Your body is naturally supposed to produce more mucous when you come into contact with a foreign invader like a virus, thereby causing sneezing and post-nasal drip and potentially congestion. These reactions are unpleasant but they simultaneously prevent the entrance of additional virus by causing congestion and flush out the existing by moving mucous around. Years of taking an antihistamine (in my case) left me open to a full on assault of these invaders even though they were innocuous pollens and ultimately made my condition WORSE. Having the drug in my system allowed none of the natural processes to happen and eventually caused problems with my personal biome of healthy gut bacteria thereby causing inflammation and a permeable intestinal lining. This in turn caused an increase in allergic responses and increased food sensitivities resulting in a higher frequency of Meniere’s episodes. It also caused my body to ramp up its reaction to pollens to overcome the effects of the OTC antihistamines. So I quit taking any and all allergy medicines. I also was able to discontinue my use of a diuretic for Meniere’s disease. I finally decided to try eliminating it after I accidently forgot it one day and actually felt better. I figured, I can’t really feel much worse (I was dizzy nearly every day at that point) so if I do, I’ll resume taking it again. At this point, I had been taking this drug for nearly 15 years so I was surprised to discover that not taking it made me feel much better. My point is, not all drugs are going to do you a favor. It’s up to you to determine what drugs have a higher benefit to risk ratio and only continuing those which you feel are truly benefiting you.
Well there you have it, my “short list” of what works for me and continues to make my life better. I hope you can find a few solutions that help you as well. Please drop me a note if you have questions or if any of these suggestions also worked for you! In health ~ Kari
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