Dizzy? Have tinnitus? A biotech company in the South of France has finally cracked one of the most annoying and debilitating symptom combinations – and histamine may be to blame. Here’s the latest scoop on the medication they’ve created to resolve the issue, and options for lowering your levels naturally to help clear the fog and dizzies.
NEWS FLASh: vertigo is now treatable
A French company that specializes in inner ear diseases, including severe vertigo and tinnitus, has developed a histamine H4 receptor blocker to treat vertigo. This new drug, called Seliforant, has been shown to alter the function of cells in the inner ear and can be taken by mouth or by injections.
It’s now (May 2018) in a Phase 2 clinical trial, conducted in the USA, Europe, and South Korea. The biotech company that developed Seliforant, called Sensorion, is working to create drugs for treating and preventing hearing loss as well as the often associated vertigo and tinnitus.
The fact that an antihistamine is being used to treat vertigo is extremely interesting. It confirms that an antihistamine can also be anti-vertigo, and that histamine is behind vertigo for some people. You’ll notice that both vertigo and tinnitus are on the list of “Common Symptoms of Histamine Related Disorders” here, as well as on my list of symptoms immediately following.
HISTAMINE HAS A COMPLICATED RELATIONSHIP WITH VERTIGO
Histamine has an impact on a person’s sense of balance due to the fact that there are histamine-affected neurons in the posterior hypothalamus of the brain. And the hypothalamus is an important regulator of all kinds of functions related to homeostasis and balance. Histamine can negatively impact one’s sense of balance causing dizziness/vertigo. However, in animal studies, when there is a vestibular neurectomy surgery to remove the balance nerve in the ear, histamine levels rise temporarily to help regain a sense of balance.
Ménière’s disease causes many severe vertigo episodes which are often accompanied by tinnitus (“ringing in the ears”). This can be so severe that it’s debilitating and prevents the person from functioning at work or participating in social activities. One or both ears may be involved. The go-to drug treatment for Ménière’s is Betahistine, a drug that is similar to histamine. It works by inhibiting Histamine H3 receptors and at the same time weakly stimulating Histamine H1 receptors. In acute situations, other antihistamines like Meclizine or Diazepam may also be used. Studies also show that inflammation may be a contributing factor in Ménière’s.
If antihistamines are useful for treating Ménière’s and inflammation is a contributing factor, then it’s certainly worth checking out an antihistamine, anti-inflammatory diet, and lifestyle.
HISTAMINE MAY CAUSE TINNITUS
Because of these histamine receptors in the brain and ears, it’s possible (and likely) that histamine also contributes to tinnitus (Read more in this post). The company mentioned above is not only developing drugs for vertigo; they have also found that targeting particular cells in the inner ear could be helpful for treating tinnitus.
Drugs are great to have when necessary, but I prefer a natural approach whenever possible. Lowering your histamine levels by changing some foods and habits may just make the difference.
DIET COULD HELP
Readers have reported improvements in both vertigo and tinnitus after changing their diet. The recommended diet here is of course whole food, nutrient-dense, anti-inflammatory, low histamine diet. Including plenty of naturally antihistamine foods, beverages, herbs & spices help even more. The beauty of it all is that this is a delicious, satisfying diet with plenty of color and variety.
Start by changing just one meal a day — say, breakfast. Make a big, anti-inflammatory fruit smoothie or vegetable juice to start the day. You may feel some effect by lunch, as you have fasted since dinner and then have added fresh, inflammation-fighting foods to start your day. There are plenty of options. For some ideas on smoothies see my post, 5 Smoothies for Histamine Intolerance.
This of course unless you have salicylate intolerance which would make you sensitive to fruits and vegetables.
If you’re following a low histamine, anti-inflammatory diet and you find vertigo and/or tinnitus persists, there may be other culprits to blame. A common one is oxalates. For starters, oxalates can raise histamine levels, so you may be consuming some hidden histamine promoters.
Besides that, oxalic acid can contribute to vertigo and tinnitus directly by the build-up of oxalate crystals in the blood vessels of the Central Nervous System. Then the cranial nerves are affected, leading to those and other neurological symptoms.
Being aware of these food-related contributing factors is half the battle. While there are certainly other potential causes of both vertigo and tinnitus (for example, a head injury), if you know you’re histamine intolerant, figuring out your histamine triggers is a good place to start.
ADD SOME SPECIFIC EXERCISES
If you’ve already implemented the antihistamine diet and lifestyle to the best of your ability, and are still gung-ho to try something that might help, check out Vestibular Rehabilitation Therapy or Cawthorne Exercises. There are particular eye exercises, such as gaze stability, that you can do to help improve your balance and reduce symptoms of vertigo.
—— REFERENCES ——-
Hough LB. Histamine Actions in the Central Nervous System. In: Siegel GJ, Agranoff BW, Albers RW, et al., editors. Basic Neurochemistry: Molecular, Cellular and Medical Aspects. 6th edition. Philadelphia: Lippincott-Raven; 1999. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK28245/
Lacour, M., van de Heyning, P. H., Novotny, M., & Tighilet, B. (2007). Betahistine in the treatment of Ménière’s disease. Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment, 3(4), 429–440.
Lechan RM, Toni R. Functional Anatomy of the Hypothalamus and Pituitary. [Updated 2016 Nov 28]. In: De Groot LJ, Chrousos G, Dungan K, et al., editors. Endotext [Internet]. South Dartmouth (MA): MDText.com, Inc.; 2000-. Available from: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK279126/
Li, B., Zhu, J.-N., & Wang, J.-J. (2014). Histaminergic afferent system in the cerebellum: structure and function. Cerebellum & Ataxias, 1, 5. http://doi.org/10.1186/2053-8871-1-5
Samarneh, M. M., Shtaynberg, N., Goldman, M., Epstein, E., Kleiner, M., & El-Sayegh, S. (2012). Severe Oxalosis With Systemic Manifestations. Journal of Clinical Medicine Research, 4(1), 56–60. http://doi.org/10.4021/jocmr525w