I remember one particularly instructive case early in my apprenticeship with my wife Nai-shing. We saw a gentleman who had suffered from vertigo for more than a decade and gotten no relief from Western medicine. Nai-shing diagnosed him with the Chinese syndrome called Liver Wind. She explained that longstanding hyperactivity of Liver Yang with signs of heat stirs up wind in the Liver, leading to symptoms of trembling and vertigo. She treated him with two basic TCM herbs to quell this problem, gou teng twigs (Uncaria sinensis) and tian ma rhizome (Gastrodia elata), in a formula of supportive herbs.
Within a month his symptoms had subsided, and were completely gone in less than six months. Nai-shing then said to me, “See, Liver Wind really exists, and now it is gone.” Since that time I have seen her treat several other cases, and I have never found another herb combination that works as well. If the vertigo patient has more heat symptoms, simply add cooling herbs which work on the liver, such as scute root and chrysanthemum flower to the basic two herbs. If there are sign of deficiency, add liver nourishing herbs like white peony root, eclipta and cornus fruit (shan zhu yu or Cornus officinalis).