Meniere’s disease: Fact, Fiction or Biological Plausibility, Part VIII

Meniere’s disease and herbal supplements

 

  Over the Counter Supplements

1. pla•ce•bo/pləˈsēbō/

Noun: 1. A harmless pill, medicine, or procedure prescribed more for the psychological benefit to the patient than for any physiological effect.

2. A substance that has no therapeutic effect, used as a control in testing new drugs.

I figured I would start by providing the definition of a placebo, because that is the general sentiment among the medical community when it comes to nutritional supplements for Meniere’s disease. If you GOOGLE the term “Meniere’s disease” you will find plenty of offers to buy pills, creams, etc that claim to cure vertigo, tinnitus, Meniere’s disease, and male pattern baldness.

The question is “Do any of these things work, or is it all a bunch of nonsense?”  I think the simple answer is that there is no firm evidence that they work, and no firm evidence that they don’t. All these treatments are based upon a combination of biological plausibility, anecdotal reports, greed, and desperation (in my calm, unbiased opinion). Some treatments literature clearly states that they increase circulation to the inner ear (Lipoflavenoids, and treatments containing Gingko Biloba), while others are less clear. Here is the list of the benefits claimed for a supplement advertised on Google.

 • Relieves symptoms of vertigo

• Relieves dizziness, nausea, sweating and vomiting

• Reduces ringing, roaring or whooshing sensations

• Alleviates disorientation

• Relieves sensations of spinning or swaying

• Balances fluid levels in the inner ear

• Fast-acting formula in a concentrated tincture

• Safe for all ages, also during pregnancy and breastfeeding

There have been attempts to quantify the benefits of several supplement treatments, including prescription Betahistine discussed earlier in this series. Once again, people taking the supplements reported improvement, but there does not seem to be one supplement or medicine or diet that is clearly superior over the many other treatments offered.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/9708713

 

 

 

About Alan Desmond

Dr. Alan Desmond is the director of the Balance Disorders Program at Wake Forest Baptist Health Center, and holds an adjunct assistant professor faculty position at the Wake Forest School of Medicine. In 2015, he received the Presidents Award from the American Academy of Audiology.