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Can CBD Treat Vertigo? – May 2022

Treatment for vertigo symptoms depends on what is causing it. For those who want to go natural, CBD is an excellent option, given its many potential benefits.

In a study that utilized data from the National Ambulatory Medical Care Surveys to study dizziness, it was found that vertigo and dizziness rank among the most common reasons for consultation and referral to specialist care ( 4 ) .

In a MedlinePlus article on dizziness and vertigo, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) says that dizziness makes people feel lightheaded or disoriented. If people feel like they or the room is spinning, they have vertigo. Both dizziness and vertigo make people lose their balance ( 5 ) .

In a 2018 study published in the journal Frontiers in Neurology , CBD was shown to reduce the recurrence of adverse events when used as add-on therap y ( 6 ) .

The authors of the study also found that CBD reduced fatigue, sleepiness, irritability, insomnia, appetite loss, aggressiveness, nausea, and dizziness in most of the subjects.

In another research , which was published in the British Journal of Pharmacology , results suggest that CBD may be an effective treatment for nausea and vomiting ( 7 ) .

CBD has also been shown to wield potent anti-inflammatory effects, as one study , which was published in the American Journal of Physiology-Heart and Circulatory Physiology in 2007, shows ( 8 ) .

The study mentioned above was done on animals. However, the authors also noted that since 2005, CBD had been approved for the treatment of pain, inflammation, and spasticity linked to multiple sclerosis in humans .

CBD’s anti-inflammatory characteristic may prove beneficial to alleviate the swelling of the inner ear, also referred to as labyrinthitis.

Vertigo is a symptom of labyrinthitis, National Health Service (NHS) UK says ( 9 ) .

How CBD Works To Alleviate The Symptoms of Vertigo

Endocannabinoids are neurotransmitters that attach to cannabinoid receptors in the nervous system.

Within the human body is the endocannabinoid system (ECS), which regulates a variety of functions including appetite, sleep, pain and immune system response ( 10 ) .

The ECS is composed of two primary cannabinoid receptors (CB1 and CB2).

The role of the CB2 cannabinoid receptor in immune regulation was demonstrated in a 2009 study supported by the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)-NIH.

In the said study, the authors noted that CB2 receptors most often found on the cells of the immune system help moderate inflammation and immune response to pathogens ( 11 ) .

Given that vertigo is a symptom of inflammation, it can be deduced that treating inflammation may help treat vertigo symptoms.

Anti-inflammatory drugs are also used to treat vertigo and dizziness, says Vestibular Disorders Association (VeDA) ( 12 ) . But can CBD also help with inflammation, and how?

A 2018 study published in the Journal of Pain Research has demonstrated that CBD may help reduce chronic pain by influencing endocannabinoid receptor activity, reducing inflammation, and interacting with neurotransmitters ( 13 ) .

In another study published in the Molecules Journal that same year, data have shown CBD’s ability to decrease swelling by signaling to the body to shut down its inflammation response ( 14 ) .

Meanwhile, a 2018 study published in the Journal of Frontiers in Neurology found that continuous and consistent doses of CBD oil, administered over an extended period helps reduce dizziness ( 15 ) .

However, the results do not provide a direct connection to CBD oil’s effects on vertigo. Given that vertigo occurs at an entirely different intensity level as compared to normal dizziness, it is difficult to assess whether CBD could treat conditions that cause vertigo as a symptom.

The Pros and Cons of CBD Oil for Vertigo

The Pros

  • CBD “is generally well tolerated with a good safety profile,” as the World Health Organization (WHO) states in a critical review ( 16 ) .
  • Scientific studies mentioned above show that CBD may help suppress dizziness, nausea, and vomiting, which are often linked to some cases of vertigo.
  • CBD’s anti-inflammatory characteristic, as shown in the studies mentioned previously, make CBD potentially beneficial in treating vertigo symptoms.
  • Unlike some commonly prescribed medications for vertigo, such as ondansetron, diazepam, lorazepam, and prednisone, CBD oil may be purchased without a prescription in locations where they are legally available.
  • In a review , CBD has been shown to be well-tolerated at doses of up to 1,500 mg per day ( 17 ) .

The Cons

  • Studies are too limited to determine whether or not CBD is an effective treatment for conditions other than the ones approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
  • As with the use of any natural chemical compound, there are risks involved in using CBD. According to the Mayo Clinic, possible side effects include drowsiness, dry mouth, diarrhea, fatigue, and reduced appetite ( 18 ) .
  • CBD can alter how the body metabolizes certain medications, as studies reveal ( 19 ) .

Research indicates that the CYP450 family of enzymes is responsible for metabolizing several phytocannabinoids (cannabinoids that exist naturally in the cannabis plant), including CBD ( 20 ) .

How CBD Oil Compares to Alternative Treatments for Vertigo

Vertigo is a type of dizziness characterized by the illusion of rotational motion, says the American Academy of Family Physicians . Associated symptoms include nausea, vomiting, and excessive sweating. Because vertigo can have multiple concurrent causes, especially among the elderly, a specific diagnosis can be elusive ( 21 ) .

Still, certain medications are prescribed by doctors to help with symptoms like nausea, vomiting, and dizziness.

The American Gastroenterological Association recommends antihistamines for the treatment of nausea associated with vertigo or motion sickness ( 22 ) .

Meclizine is an antihistamine that works by blocking the signals to the brain that cause dizziness, nausea, and vomiting says Mayo Clinic ( 23 ) .

Meclizine is also used for vertigo (dizziness or lightheadedness) caused by ear problems (2 4 ) .

When there is no definite cause of vertigo, doctors may advise their patients to opt for vestibular rehabilitation therapy (VRT). This procedure strengthens the vestibular sensory symptom, which reduces the frequency and intensity of vertigo symptoms, as explained in the 2011 study published in the Journal of Clinical Neurology ( 25 ) .

Another technique that can allay vertigo symptoms is the Epley maneuver, which involves a series of changes in the position of the head and body. This type of exercise, which can be done at home, helps to treat the symptoms of benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), according to an article posted in Johns Hopkins Medicine ( 26 ) .

Meanwhile, some essential oils are being advertised and/or recommended for ailments including vertigo and tinnitus (the perception of noise or ringing in the ears), says Robert M. DiSogra, AuD, who has more than 40 years of experience in audiology and has published and lectured extensively on pharmaceuticals and nutraceuticals for hearing loss and tinnitus ( 27 ) .

However, in an article published by the American Academy of Audiology, DiSogra says that, although essential oils possess numerous therapeutic properties, they do not help with vertigo or tinnitus.

More importantly, DiSograa advises against the ingestion of essential oils or its placement into the ear canal, saying that massage is the best way to apply essential oils to help relieve symptoms ( 28 ) .

A 2013 study published in the Evidence-Based Complementary and Alternative Medicine Journal showed the anti-inflammatory effects of lavender on the central nervous system ( 29 ) . However, note that using essential oils is not a recognized treatment for vertigo. Instead, these oils are used to help ease the symptoms linked to the disorder.

Magnesium therapy is another tool that may help with vertigo symptoms.

In a 2018 study published in Open Heart Journal , vertigo was presented as a less severe sign of magnesium deficiency ( 30 ) .

However, there is no substantial evidence that links vertigo to magnesium deficiency. Neither is there a study that supports magnesium therapy as a treatment for vertigo. More studies are needed.

Also, despite the efficacy of prescription medications, like antihistamines, used to help with vertigo symptoms, these drugs bring about side effects.

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Side effects that may be caused by antihistamines include clumsiness or unsteadiness, nausea, vomiting and headache ( 31 ) . Ironically, these are the same symptoms of most vertigo cases ( 32 ) .

Cannabidiol (CBD), on the other hand, is a natural alternative that has shown to have little side effects, and the side effects of CBD are less common than those associated with most pharmaceutical medications used to treat vertigo symptoms.

CBD may also be used as a dietary supplement like magnesium or as a topical like essential oils.

Given CBD’s potential to help with vertigo symptoms, as shown in the studies mentioned earlier, using it may help provide some much-needed and quick relief.

Still, before experimenting with different CBD products, speak to a doctor about a CBD treatment or using CBD oil for treating vertigo symptoms.

How to Choose The Right CBD for Vertigo

Pure CBD oil, tinctures, and concentrates are CBD products designed for the sublingual method of application, which is ideal when taking CBD for vertigo symptoms.

CBD products in these forms can easily be held in the mouth to give time for the active ingredients to be absorbed by the capillaries in the mouth before being swallowed ( 33 ) .

However, regardless of the form of CBD product of choice, careful consideration must be employed in choosing the best CBD oil for vertigo symptoms.

  1. Research on the exact legal stipulations applicable to CBD in the area where it would be purchased and used.
  2. Purchase only from legitimate and reliable big brands. Majority of companies that manufacture the best CBD oil products purchase their hemp from farms that are located in California, Texas, Europe, and Colorado.
  3. When buying from an online store, research product reviews. When buying from a physical store or dispensary, check whether the store is authorized by the government to sell CBD.
  4. One important thing to look for in CBD products is certification codes. Several certification authorities approve certain products only after some thorough screening tests.
  5. Compare company claims about their products’ potency with that of the third-party lab reports.
  6. Consulting with a trusted medical professional who is experienced in CBD use is ideal before one purchases his or her first bottle of CBD.

CBD Dosage For Vertigo

There are no standard CBD doses prescribed for vertigo. Thus, it may be best to start with a dosage that is recommended and displayed on the product label.

Recording any progress and side effects that may be experienced during the therapy may also be beneficial.

How to Take CBD Oil for Vertigo

As vertigo symptoms come on suddenly, the sublingual method of taking CBD may be ideal.

In this method, CBD oil is held under the tongue for up to 90 seconds, giving time for the mucous membranes in the mouth to absorb the oil’s active ingredients before the oil is swallowed.

The benefit of the sublingual process is that CBD oil bypasses the digestive system and liver metabolization, allowing the compounds to reach the bloodstream and interact with the ECS more quickly (3 4 ) .

Pure CBD oil, tinctures, and concentrates are CBD products that are excellent for the sublingual method of application.

Still, a consultation with a physician is an excellent idea before using any CBD supplements to ensure there are no adverse reactions to existing medications.

Understanding Vertigo

Data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey revealed that about 35% percent of Americans over 40 years old had had some form of vestibular dysfunction, the most common of which is vertigo ( 35 ) .

Researchers of a study published in the JAMA Internal Medicine Journal said that while dizziness and vertigo are common, the cause of this disorder often remains unexplained ( 36 ) .

The authors also said, “The underestimation of dizziness and vertigo symptoms with regard to their effect on personal and health care is reflected in the fact that large percentages of the underlying disorders remain underdiagnosed and, therefore, are presumed to be insufficiently treated.”

What Causes Vertigo?

Vertigo could be caused by many factors, including inner ear infections and migraines. It could also be brought about by some medications, including those used to treat anxiety or high blood pressure or anxiety ( 37 ) .

However, one of the most common causes is an inner-ear condition called benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV) ( 38 ) .

BPPV is believed to be caused by calcium carbonate crystals (otoconia) coming loose within the ear canals. BPPV can also be caused by a head injury, damage caused by an inner ear disorder, or degeneration of the vestibular system in the inner ear due to ageing.

Although there is also an association between BPPV and osteoporosis, in a large number of cases, there is no known cause (39 ) .

Ménière’s disease is an inner ear disorder that causes a feeling of fullness or congestion in the ear, severe dizziness (vertigo), ringing in the ears (tinnitus) and hearing loss. Usually, Ménière’s disease affects only one ear.

The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD) estimates that more than 600,000 people in the United States are currently diagnosed with Ménière’s disease and, as of 2017, 45,500 cases are newly diagnosed each year ( 40 ) .

Labyrinthitis is the irritation and swelling of the inner ear that can cause vertigo and hearing loss.

Labyrinthitis is often caused by a virus and, sometimes, by bacteria. Having a cold or flu can trigger the condition. Other causes include allergies or certain medicines that are damaging to the inner ear.

Smoking, drinking large amounts of alcohol, and stress may raise an individual’s risk for labyrinthitis ( 41 ) .

While there are cases when vertigo is the side effect of other medical conditions, there are also times when doctors are baffled by the exact cause of vertigo in some people.

Understanding CBD

Medical marijuana is a natural medicine from the Cannabis sativa or Cannabis indica family of plants. Hemp and marijuana are both primary species of Cannabis sativa.

Medical cannabis is a broad term for any cannabis-based medicine, and it is often used interchangeably with the term medical marijuana.

Of the many active compounds found in a Cannabis sativa plant, two are of interest for medical purposes: THC (delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol).

THC induces psychoactive effects like nausea and dizziness when consumed in high concentrations. CBD, a cannabinoid mostly derived from hemp, is best known for its therapeutic benefits without the euphoric high.

Medicines derived from Cannabis indica plants have higher CBD and lower THC counts. Meanwhile, medicines produced from Cannabis sativa plants have lower CBD and higher THC counts.

CBD oil is derived from the stalks, flowers, and leaves of the hemp plant. Hemp oil, or hemp seed oil, is made from hemp seeds, that contain little to no CBD.

Under U.S. federal law, the use of whole plant Cannabis sativa or its derivatives for any purpose is illegal. On the other hand, CBD derived from the hemp plant that contains < 0.3% THC is legal to consume ( 42 ) .

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has not recognized or approved the marijuana plant as medicine.

For more information on studies related to cannabis, go to https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov.

Conclusion

There is a complexity involved with using CBD oil to treat vertigo directly. Vertigo is a complicated disorder, so it is also challenging to establish whether or not the sudden and intense dizziness is part of a specific medical condition.

Although CBD oil is a potential treatment for the underlying conditions that might cause vertigo, CBD is not necessarily a treatment for vertigo itself.

Still, CBD’s anti-nausea, neuroprotective, and anti-inflammatory properties, as shown in some studies, may be a potential remedy to vertigo symptoms that people experience.

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Table of Contents

Nervous & Sensory System

Dr. Kimberly Langdon, MD

Kimberly Langdon, MD is a retired, board-certified obstetrician/gynecologist with 19-years of clinical experience. She graduated from The Ohio State University College of Medicine, earning Honors in many rotations. She then completed her OB/GYN residency program at The Ohio State University.

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Dr. Kimberly Langdon, MD

Kimberly Langdon, MD is a retired, board-certified obstetrician/gynecologist with 19-years of clinical experience. She graduated from The Ohio State University College of Medicine, earning Honors in many rotations. She then completed her OB/GYN residency program at The Ohio State University.

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Cannabis (Marijuana) for dizziness, nausea or headache.

Marijuana is one of the most popular recreational drugs worldwide, and is the #1 illegal drug in the US (followed by cocaine). It is estimated that in the US, about 13.5% of the population uses it every year. (Zhang, 2019) As medical marijuana has become legal in many countries as well as about half of the states in the USA, it is now possible to discuss its use for treatment of common conditions such as dizziness, nausea and headache.

Cannabis is a generic term used for drugs produced from plants belong to the genus Cannabis (i.e. marijuana). Cannabis is not a single substance but rather is a mixture of up to roughly 60 compounds. Some of them, like THC (d-9-tetrahydrocannabinol), are psychoactive, and most others are not.

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Prescription forms of cannabinoids include:

Cannabinoid formulations (Fife et al, 2015)

Name Constituents FDA approval Legal under federal/state laws
Marijuana THC, CBD, others No No/Yes
Dronabinol (Marinol) THC Yes yes/yes, was schedule I in 1971, but FDA indications suggest there i an accepted use.
Nabilone (Cesamet) Synthetic cannabinoid Yes Yes/yes
Nabiximole (Sativex) Oral spray mix of THC and CBD No No/no — available as of 2015 only in FDA approved clinical trials

What is in Cannabis ?

According to Fife et al, Marijuana is a plant of the species Cannabis sativa or Cannabis indica, and contains many chemical compounds. THC is the chief psychoactive component, while CBD (cannabidiol) has minimal or no psychoactive effects. Other cannabinoids without psychoactive properties include cannabigerol and cannabinol. THC can be measured in the blood, while carboxy THC is detected only in the urine. Hemp, made from the stem of the plant, contains only traces of THC. There are several strains of cannabis, mainly differentiated by the their psychoactive properties. “sativa’ is more stimulating. “indica” is more calming. “hemp” has low or absent THC.

A single dose of cannabis can be detected in the urine for 12 days. Thus someone who is involved in an auto-accident 10 days after using cannabis, could theoretically be cited for “DUI”.

One would think that it might be possible to use a non-psychoactive cannabinoid for a medical purpose, without running into issues with mental status. Nevertheless, due to the odd status in the US where research on cannabis has been suppressed by the government, we know little about the non-psychoactive components of Marijuana. We do not know, for example, if they cause cancer (just an example).

What does Cannabis do the brain ?

Rather astoundingly, Cannabis appears to activate specific endocannabinoid receptors, mainly in the CNS. There are two main cannabinoid receptors, CB1 and CB2. According to Baron (2018), CB1 is found mainly in the CNS. CB2 is more numerous in the peripheral tissues.

THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) is a partial agonist of CB1 (more so than CB2).

Cannabidiol (CBD) has no psychoactive properties, does not attach to CB1 or CB2, but functions as a noncompetitive antagonist at CB1.

The details of what it does to the brain are being worked out and are presently the subject of considerable controversy. While there are claims that cannabis reduces cognitive function, a recent study published in JAMA psychiatry, analyzing 69 studies, suggested that there is only a very small effect after 72 hours (Scott et al, 2018)

Possible indications for Cannabinoids

As of 2015, Fife et al (2015) summarized their conclusions regarding utility of Cannabis in neurological disorders.

There was evidence for effectiveness in spasticity, central pain in MS. Nabiximols was thought to be “probably effective” in reducing bladder spasms (this drug is also used to treat nausea, see below). In movement disorders such as tremor, Huntington disease, and dopamine related dyskinesias, it was thought either ineffective or unknown. For Epilepsy, as of 2015, it was unknown.

Nausea:

THC (brand name Dronabinol) has been extensively studied with placebo controlled trials for nausea. A similar drug called Nabilone is also available. Both of these have been approved by the FDA for treatment of nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy. Another substance called “Nabiximol” is not currently FDA approved for nausea, but it is licensed in other countries and appears to be similar.

Headache

McGeeney (2012) suggests that anecdotal evidence suggests that they “are used” by patients for migraine, including as an abortive, and for cluster headache. Baron (2015) also suggests that there is some evidence for a good effect in migraine. As there is some evidence for an effect in chronic pain, one would anticipate a positive effect also in chronic migraine. Thus evidence is currently extremely weak.

According to Baron (2018), a chemical called anandamide inhibits dilation of blood vessels, modulates CGRP, and cortical spreading depression. CB1 also inhibits pain responses. We consider this also anecdotal.

Vertigo and Dizziness

There are presently (in 2015) no studies of cannabis for treatment of dizziness, and dizziness appears to be more of a side effect than a therapeutic target (Grotenhermen et al, 2012). Smith (2006) suggested that there are cannabinoid receptors in the central vestibular system. More studies are needed.

We have had heard from our patients that they have sometimes had a good response to a non-mind altering component of cannabis (CBD). In theory, this might be related to the anti-seizure effects of some components of cannabis. At this date (early 2018), these are just anecdotes.

Products that we have been told were helpful are “Charlotte’s Web”, “Watermelon Pucks”, and “Anandahemp 200”. The first is CBD oil, and can easily be ordered from the internet. The second contains some THC, and is not as readily available. As noted above, THC is approved by the FDA for treatment of nausea and vomiting associated with chemotherapy, and thus it is not surprising that “Watermelon Pucks” might be helpful in some people with dizziness. To be very clear, I am not advocating for these products, but I am simply transmitting what patients are telling me.

Legal status of cannabis in Illinois.

As of 2019, cannabis is scheduled to be available for recreational use by early 2020. Presently, In Illinois, the Illinois Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program requires physicians to certify the diagnosis of a debilitating condition or terminal illness for a qualifying patient seeking to apply for a medical cannabis registry identification card. Whether or not a physician chooses to provide a written physician certification is up to the health care practitioner. More information is here: https://www.dph.illinois.gov/topics-services/prevention-wellness/medical-cannabis/physician-information

According to Fife et al (2015), the system used in Illinois is the usual one used to handle the odd situation where the Federal government states that licensed physicians cannot legally prescribe herbal marijuana (although they may prescribe nabilone or dronabinol). Physicians can document that the patient has a medical condition that justifies the use of marijuana under that state’s law. Patients then may proceed to acquire the marijuana, under the particulars of the laws of their state. Nevertheless, certain institutions, including the Department of Veteran affairs, may have policies banning physicians from discussing medical marijuana with their patients.

Note that THC can be detected in the urine as long as 12 days after a single “dose”. This means that in Illinois, should one be involved in an auto accident, it is theoretically possible to be cited for DUI, 12 days after ingesting a small amount of medical marijuana.

Qualifying conditions for cannabis in Illinois:

An individual diagnosed with one or more debilitating conditions is eligible to apply for a medical cannabis registry identification card. The qualifying patient must obtain a written certification from a physician specifying their debilitating condition, unless they are a veteran receiving health services at a VA facility. Veterans must submit one year of medical records from the VA facility where they receive services. Effective January 1, 2015, the Act was amended to include eligibility for children under age 18 and to add seizure disorders to the list of debilitating conditions. On June 30, 2016, the Act was amended (Public Act 099-0519) to add Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) as a debilitating condition and to allow persons diagnosed with a terminal illness to apply for a medical cannabis registry identification card. The Act is effective until Jan, 1, 2020.

Qualifying patients must be diagnosed with a debilitating condition, as defined in the Compassionate Use of Medical Cannabis Pilot Program Act, to be eligible for a medical cannabis registry identification card in Illinois.

On this list, conditions that might cause or be associated with dizziness include Arnold-Chiari, Cancer, Hydrocephalus, MS, myoclonus, and TBI. Neither migraine nor intractable nausea are included here.