does weed help with vertigo

Dizzy and Disoriented, With No Cure in Sight

It started in 2010 when I smoked pot for the first time since college. It was cheap, gristly weed I’d had in my freezer for nearly six years, but four hours after taking one hit I was still so dizzy I couldn’t stand up without holding on to the furniture. The next day I was still dizzy, and the next, and the next, but it tapered off gradually until about a month later I was mostly fine.

Over the following year I got married, started teaching seventh and eighth grade, and began work on a novel. Every week or so the disequilibrium sneaked up on me. The feeling was one of disorientation as much as dizziness, with some cloudy vision, light nausea and the sensation of being overwhelmed by my surroundings. During one eighth-grade English class, when I turned around to write on the blackboard, I stumbled and couldn’t stabilize myself. I fell in front of my students and was too disoriented to stand. My students stared at me slumped on the floor until I mustered enough focus to climb up to a chair and did my best to laugh it off.

I was only 29, but my father had had a benign brain tumor around the same age, so I had a brain scan. My brain appeared to be fine. A neurologist recommended I see an ear, nose and throat specialist. A technician flooded my ear canal with water to see if my acoustic nerve reacted properly. The doctor suspected either benign positional vertigo (dizziness caused by a small piece of bonelike calcium stuck in the inner ear) or Ménière’s disease (which leads to dizziness from pressure).

Unfortunately, the test showed my inner ear was most likely fine. But just as the marijuana had triggered the dizziness the year before, the test itself catalyzed the dizziness now. In spite of the negative results, doctors still believed I had an inner ear problem. They prescribed exercises to unblock crystals, and salt pills and then prednisone to fight Ménière’s disease.

All this took months, and I continued to be dizzy, all day, every day. It felt as though I woke up every morning having already drunk a dozen beers — some days, depending on how active and stressful my day was, it felt like much more. Most days ended with me in tears. Teaching was nearly impossible; I was unable to write because of blurry vision, and my wife became a caretaker more than a partner; I became addicted to message boards for dizziness, vertigo, benign positional vertigo and Ménière’s disease. Anonymous posters described how their medications didn’t work and their doctors couldn’t cure them. They couldn’t keep their jobs; their friends didn’t understand them; and their spouses left or tried to be supportive, but eventually both suffered.

Finally, my doctor recommended a new neurologist who performed some simple tests and casually gave me a diagnosis of vestibular migraines, a condition that didn’t exist in medical journals 20 years ago.

Apparently, instead of causing severe pain, my migraines manifest as constant dizziness. I began taking Klonopin daily. It immediately mitigated the symptoms, but Klonopin can be addictive. My eyes started to twitch after a few weeks on it, so my doctor looked for another option. After living for two years with incessant dizziness, I settled on a combination of Lexapro and Serzone, both antidepressants, that began to work. In 2013, I could teach and began to write my novel again. I could enjoy life with my wife. We had our first son. I was free.

But there was a downside. A known side effect of the treatment is nightmares. Night after night, I woke up from a tortured dream during which I fought someone off from attacking my wife and baby, or suffered the devastation of them leaving me. I couldn’t sleep for more than a few hours at a time (and still can’t), and neither could my family. Still, compared to the dizziness, it was a trade worth making. I was tired but still able to finish and sell my novel and to teach, and we had our second son.

After nearly three years of being symptom free, I became greedy. Was there a way to live without the dizziness and the nightmares? I thought it might be worth cutting down on the medication to see. In January, I went to half the amount of medication, and I was fine. So I went to a quarter of the amount, and I was fine. So I went off it entirely.

The dizziness came back more viciously than ever. This wasn’t troubling at first; I merely went back on the antidepressants. When they didn’t work after a couple weeks, I grew anxious. But my doctor told me that sometimes the drugs take as long as a month to work. When they were still ineffective after two months, I began to despair. A neurologist explained that sometimes medication doesn’t work a second time — sometimes brain chemistries change, or medications stop proving effective for reasons doctors don’t understand.

So now, we are searching again. It has been five months of dizziness. I am 35 now, doing my best to fight my way through parenting, teaching and working on my book. I am relying on my wife. My neurologist has started me on verapamil, a blood pressure medication, which has been shown to be effective for some migraine sufferers, but is not working for me.

I am pretending for as long as I can, at least in front of my 3-year-old. “Daddy no feel so good?” he says when I brace myself on a chair on my way to the kitchen to reheat his dinner. I’ve begun to see a psychologist who specializes in pain and palliative care to provide techniques to help me get through the day. I am waiting, terrified, to see if this medication, or the next one, will rescue me.

Brian Platzer (@BPlatzer) has written for New Republic, Salon and other publications. His debut novel is to be published in 2017.


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A version of this article appears in print on 06/14/2016, on page D 4 of the NewYork edition with the headline: Dizziness With No End.

A diagnosis of vestibular migraine forced the author to choose between living with disabling dizziness or a treatment that triggered disabling nightmares.

The 5 Best Strains if You Have Vertigo [Revealed]

Vertigo, balance-related conditions, and dizziness impact an estimated 40% of American adults at least once in their lives. Females are slightly more susceptible to these issues than males. Individuals with vertigo feel as if they are off-balance. They often feel as if the room is spinning, and the sensation can cause nausea, among other things.

It is a distressing situation, but in most instances, it is a symptom rather than an illness itself. There are numerous pharmaceutical drugs on the market designed to treat vertigo. However, they carry with them the usual array of side effects. Cannabis is becoming regarded as a potential treatment option for a wide variety of medical issues. However, a lack of clinical research continues to hold the industry back.

Vertigo is one of those conditions where MMJ potentially helps. However, excessive THC consumption can result in dizziness, not to mention anxiety and paranoia. As a result, caution is essential when using cannabis for any purpose. In this guide, we check out the symptoms of vertigo and discuss how marijuana could help. We conclude by outlining five cannabis strains that could help.

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What Is Vertigo? – The Symptoms

It is best classified as a sensation of dizziness that makes it feel as if the world is spinning at speed. Vertigo is often incorrectly described as a fear of heights. For the record, the correct term is Acrophobia. While you can experience vertigo while looking down from a height, it isn’t the only time it happens. In general, it relates to any ongoing or temporary dizzy spell. It occurs because of problems in the brain or inner ear.

While it is a symptom, vertigo happens alongside other symptoms that include:

  • Vomiting, and nausea
  • Motion sickness
  • Difficulties with balance
  • Tinnitus (ringing in the ear)
  • Headaches
  • A condition called nystagmus where the eyes typically move from side to side uncontrollably
  • Lightheadedness
  • Sweating

The symptoms may last for minutes or extend to several hours.

Vertigo Causes

There are several possible reasons why a patient suffers from vertigo. These include:

  • Meniere’s Disease: It is a condition that causes a fluid build-up in the inner ear. Meniere’s can cause an attack of vertigo that results in hearing loss after ringing in the ears. It commonly impacts people aged 40-60.
  • Labyrinthitis: This disorder occurs when an infection causes an inflamed inner ear labyrinth. The vestibulocochlear nerve is within this region and sends information to the brain regarding sound, position, and head motion.
  • Cholesteatoma: This is a noncancerous skin growth located in the middle ear. It grows behind the eardrum and may damage the bony structures of the middle ear.
  • Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV): There are otolith organs in our inner ear. They contain calcium carbonate crystals and fluid. If you have BPPV, the crystals become dislodged and end up in the semicircular canals. Each crystal touches the sensory hair cells with the canals’ cupula when you move. The brain gets false information about your position and causes you to feel dizzy.
  • Vestibular Neuritis: It is an inflammation of the vestibular nerve caused by an infection. It causes vertigo with symptoms such as severe nausea and blurred vision.

Other potential factors that could cause vertigo include:

  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Ear surgery
  • Migraine headaches
  • A transient ischemic attack or a stroke
  • Ataxia
  • Acoustic neuroma
  • A head injury
  • Shingles near the ear

Vertigo Treatments

There are several treatments for the condition, but they depend on what is causing it. Examples include:

  • Vestibular rehabilitation for vestibular neuritis.
  • Canalith repositioning maneuvers for BPPV.
  • Medication such as antibiotics if you have inflammation or an infection.
  • Diuretics for Meniere’s Disease.
  • Surgery in extreme cases.

You could also change your lifestyle, perform specific exercises, or consume herbal remedies. However, some MMJ patients are trying cannabis for vertigo.

How Could Medical Marijuana Help with Vertigo?

What’s clear is that cannabis is unlikely to ‘cure’ vertigo. Remember, the condition is merely a ‘symptom’ of something else. Therefore, you need to manage your expectations and understand that MMJ will likely only help alleviate the issue. For those who regularly feel the room spinning, a reduction in symptoms is more than enough!

From the research we have uncovered to date, cannabis could potentially help with vertigo symptoms such as dizziness, headache, and nausea. Marijuana appears to activate specific endocannabinoid receptors in the body. CB1 and CB2 are the main receptors. You will find CB1 receptors primarily in the central nervous system. The CB2 receptor is generally in immune cells. Both also have an impact on the brain.

Unfortunately, there is limited research on marijuana for vertigo. However, several studies look at cannabis’ effects on patients with nausea, vomiting, and dizziness. A study by Parker et al., published in the British Journal of Pharmacology in August 2011, looked at CBD’s impact on nausea and vomiting. The researchers found that CBD helped reduce those symptoms in patients undergoing chemotherapy.

A study by Pamplona et al., in Frontiers in Neurology in September 2018, also had interesting findings. It discovered that consistent and continuous doses of CBD oil helped reduce dizziness over an extended period.

What to Look for in a Marijuana Strain for Vertigo

The lack of clinical trials poses a problem. The vast majority of positive evidence is of the anecdotal kind. However, research seems to indicate that CBD has the most significant potential for helping with the dizziness and nausea associated with vertigo. Indeed, high doses of THC are likely to increase the dizzy sensation.

However, the entourage effect suggests that cannabinoids work better together than in isolation. As a result, you need a strain with a low to moderate level of THC. It should also have a moderate to high degree of CBD to counteract any adverse effects of THC.

It is also prudent not to ignore the terpenes in any strain. Linalool has calming and sedating effects that come in handy if you have vertigo. Likewise, the stress relief and elevated mood caused by limonene should prove useful. It only takes a little of a terpene to have a reasonable effect by all accounts.

Now, let’s see if we can find five marijuana strains for vertigo that fit the bill. If possible, you should try an edible or tincture rather than vaping or smoking cannabis.

1 – Charlotte’s Web

The Stanley Brothers developed this strain and named it after Charlotte Figi, a girl who had Dravet’s Syndrome. It helped significantly reduce the frequency and severity of her seizures. It is a hemp-derived strain with a CBD content of up to 17% against less than 0.3% THC in many cases. This sativa-dominant strain will not cause an intoxicating high. This is precisely what patients with vertigo need.

Another benefit of CW is the extremely high Linalool content. Linalool is the most abundant terpene in this strain. Despite a low THC content, users of Charlotte’s Web say it helps them feel uplifted and relaxed. Best of all, it is easy to find oils and edibles on the official CW website.

2 – Harle-Tsu

While this strain doesn’t have a high linalool or limonene content, it does offer an excellent level of CBD. It is a slightly indica-dominant strain that’s a cross of Sour Tsunami and Harlequin. Officially, Harle-Tsu has a CBD content of up to 24% against a THC level of just 1%. However, we have seen lab results with 11% CBD against 7% THC. This is a good ratio for vertigo patients aiming to benefit from the entourage effect.

Harle-Tsu is a favorite amongst those who want to energize after a long hard day. It is also a good option as a ‘wake and bake’ if you experience a rough night. Users often say they feel relaxed all over the body while still having a desire to get things done. If you experience vertigo, this strain could help relieve the feelings of anxiety that come with it.

3 – Dancehall

This is another cannabis strain with an excellent CBD to THC ratio if you have vertigo. It is a slightly sativa dominant strain that’s a cross of Kalijah and Juanita La Lagrimosa. It has a THC content of up to 9%, with a CBD level approaching 16%. Its most abundant terpenes are myrcene, beta-caryophyllene, and limonene. A breeder called Reggae Seeds created Dancehall, which they named after an upbeat musical style found in Jamaica.

On occasion, you may find Dancehall with a CBD to THC ratio of almost 1:1. For patients with vertigo, you don’t want the rate to nudge into THC dominance territory. Dancehall provides a clear-headed high that is a long way from being overwhelming. However, it is not the best option if you haven’t used cannabis before. Its fast-acting effects may surprise you! In general, users feel invigorated, and some report feeling aroused!

4 – Cannatonic

This is a strain that’s gained near-legendary status. It is a specially created hybrid that combines a THC content of 7-15% with a CBD level of up to 12%. Like Dancehall, its primary terpenes are myrcene, beta-caryophyllene, and limonene. Cannatonic is a balanced hybrid that’s a cross of G13 Haze and MK Ultra. The result is a smooth and relaxing option that has become a massive player in the MMJ field.

There is enough THC in Cannatonic to warrant respect. Nonetheless, most users claim it offers a gentle and pleasant high that helps you feel calm and mellow. You may feel ‘lighter’ after using it as if the weight of the world has been lifted from your shoulders. Cannatonic could help improve your mood and provide an uplifting feeling with the energetic effects of other strains. If you like the idea of remaining relatively creative while feeling euphoric, this is the strain for you!

5 – Valentine X

This strain has its origins in the famous ACDC strain. It is a balanced hybrid with a CBD content of up to 25% against approximately 1% of THC. Valentine X’s main terpenes are beta-myrcene, caryophyllene oxide, pinene, and limonene. This strain was likely named after Saint Valentine and is widely used by patients with epilepsy.

Users say that Valentine X is outstanding when it comes to helping them attain a level of focus. As a result of its high CBD to THC ratio, it is ideal for daytime use as you remain productive with no intoxicating high. You may find that it also provides you with a much-needed boost first thing in the morning. After an initial tingling sensation, users suggest they experience a sudden rush of euphoria.

Final Thoughts on Best Marijuana Strains for Vertigo

Unfortunately, we simply don’t have enough research on how cannabis can help with vertigo. However, there is evidence that marijuana could reduce the impact of symptoms such as nausea, headaches, and dizziness. High-THC strains have the potential to exacerbate these effects. As a result, we recommend focusing on cannabis with more CBD than THC in total. It is also worth seeking strains with reasonable limonene and linalool contents.

Ideally, you will find cannabis in tincture or edibles form. This is especially the case if you believe you require some in the morning. It is a lot easier to take a few drops of cannabis oil or an edible than to light a joint. You can even place them in your bedside cabinet, as long as you don’t have children running around!

Need a Medical Marijuana Card? Let us help by Starting Here.

We take a look at some of the best cannabis strains for vertigo relief. Here's all you need to know about the condition and how marijuana could help.