Dizziness can cause feelings of lightheadedness, weakness and unsteadiness. Severe dizziness that creates a sense of spinning or movement is called vertigo. Dizziness is usually not life threatening but can be inconvenient and interrupt daily activities. Over the counter, OTC, supplements may help dizziness but many are not regulated by the Food and Drug Administration and have not been scientifically proven to be effective.
The University of Maryland Medical Center (UMMC) says ginko biloba (ginko) can help treat vertigo. Ginko is one of the most widely used and extensively studied dietary supplements. According to the UMMC, flavonoids and terpenoids are responsible for ginko’s medicinal properties. Flavonoids are antioxidants that protect the body from damaging substances that cause chronic diseases and terpenoids improve blood flow.
According to Peace Health, studies that have used ginko for vertigo administered 40 to 160 milligrams of ginko per day. OTC ginko supplements are available as tablets, capsules, dried leaves and liquid extracts. Side effects of ginko are rare but may include upset stomach, headache, skin reaction and nausea. Ginko should not be taken by people with bleeding disorders or those on blood-thinning medications. It should also be avoided prior to surgery because increased bleeding has been associated with the supplement. Ginko is not recommended for pregnant or breastfeeding women due to a lack of scientific research in this area.
The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) says feverfew has been used to treat dizziness as well as headache, stomach ache, infertility, arthritis, psoriasis, asthma, nausea and vomiting. Feverfew is native to Eastern Europe but now grows throughout Europe, North America and South America. OTC feverfew supplements come as capsules, tablets, liquid extracts and dried leaves. Possible side effects of feverfew include canker sores, swelling of the lips or tongue, loss of taste, nausea, upset stomach and bloating. The NCCAM says pregnant women should not use feverfew because it can cause uterine contractions. People who are allergic to flowers in the daisy family, ragweed and chrysanthemum are more likely to be allergic to feverfew.
According to Peace Health, other OTC supplements that may help treat vertigo and dizziness include ginger, vitamin B6 and vinpocetine. While anecdotal evidence exists to support the use of these supplements to treat dizziness, most scientific studies have had mixed results. Ginger is the root of a tropical plant that is used in cooking and medicine. It is often purported to treat nausea and motion sickness and is available as a fresh or dried root, tablet, capsule, liquid extract and tea. Vitamin B6 is an essential water-soluble vitamin that can be purchased as an OTC supplement in a multivitamin or B vitamin complex. According to the University of Michigan Health System, vinpocetine is a natural chemical found in periwinkle. Vinpocetine is administered at 30 to 60 milligrams per day and may interact with blood-thinning prescription medications.