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Holistic Treatment Success May be Possible for Mal de Debarquement Syndrome

Last Updated on July 7, 2023 by Diane Ridaeus

Alternative to Meds Editorial Team
Medically Reviewed by Dr Samuel Lee MD

Holistic Treatment Success May be Possible for Mal de Debarquement Type Symptoms

Alternative to Meds Center is excited to share some hopeful news regarding our holistic treatment for symptoms related to Mal de Debarquement Syndrome ( MdDS ). Since Hippocrates first mentioned the condition in early medical literature,1 we’ve come a long way. It’s not at all uncommon to experience a couple of hours of subjectively perceived motion after a boating trip or a lengthy flight, 2 common examples. As the Mal de Debarquement Foundation says, MdDS makes you feel like you’re still on the boat! What is rarer is that for some, these sensations do not abate and can linger for months.8,9

The center provides a holistic, science-based approach to investigating underlying factors associated with a person’s unwanted symptoms. Sometimes prescription drugs have been used to suppress these, but of course, cannot eliminate them. Treating debarkment sickness-type symptoms with benzodiazepines or antidepressants is sometimes chosen for treatment. However, this can invite the possibility of addiction and other undesirable outcomes.7,9 If prescription drugs have become more problematic than useful, we offer inpatient comprehensive medication withdrawal tapering. Prescription medication is not typically effective in the long-term treatment of MdDS. You may have been led to believe that the only answer to your mental or physical health symptoms lies in prescription medications. This is FALSE! Many holistic treatment approaches are available. Are you caught in a routine of visiting doctors and taking prescription drugs, but you are still suffering? Read the success story below written by a client who came to us on prescription medications with MdDS symptoms and who left our care, free of symptoms and medications.

Not everyone experiences the same symptom or set of symptoms. Medical literature describes quite a wide range of possible symptoms of Mal de Debarquement, as listed below.1-9

Symptoms of Mal de Debarquement can include:
  • Lingering sensation of personal motion after traveling by ship, car, train, plane, etc.
  • Bobbing, swaying, rocking sensations though the body is not actually moving
  • Unsteadiness, loss of balance
  • Dizziness
  • Anxiety
  • Emotional distress
  • Fatigue
  • Visual disturbances
  • Headache, migraine
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Short-term memory loss
  • Confusion
  • Ear-related symptoms: tinnitus, impaired hearing, pain

Struggling with Medication Issues, Mental Health Problems, or MdDS?

Mal de Débarquement syndrome, also known as disembarkment syndrome or MdDS, is an uncommon condition of lingering perceived movement after disembarking from an ocean cruise, extensive auto, air, train, or boat travel, or other movement experience. Mal de Débarquement is a French phrase that means disembarkation sickness. The main diagnostic “tell” is a rocking, swaying, or bobbing sensation, also described as similar to the spinning sensation of vertigo. Some people develop MdDS unexpectedly when they have not experienced a prior motion event, some have reported symptoms after surgery, and others are simply puzzled why this happened. It has been established that the condition is found more frequently in women than men.2 Mal de Debarquement symptoms include a feeling of motion that is typically associated with imbalance, fatigue, and cognitive impairment and can include short-term loss of memory, lack of ability to remember words and lack of ability to multi-task. Surprisingly perhaps, these sensations tend to abate for some when they get back into motion again, but the symptoms return whenever they wish to be still, as in sitting or trying to sleep. There are other reports of the condition only returning when in motion, and abating when still. In yet other cases, the condition appears to be episodic, starting and stopping at what seem to be random times. It is no wonder that this relentless sensation of “land sickness” can be debilitating and frustrating to live with.

We Provide Science-based, Safe, Holistic Treatment for Mal de Debarquement-type Symptoms

symptoms of MdDS The severity of symptoms varies substantially between patients. Some persons will feel mild and short-lived discomfort. For others, the symptoms of Mal de Debarquement can be so severe that they can significantly disable the person. In some cases, MdDS can continue for years. A single cause for the condition has never been found. Additionally, and quite unfortunately, misdiagnoses are fairly common.4 Prescription medication is usually prescribed for MdDS, however, is usually not considered effective beyond reducing the stress caused by having these strange sensations arise, sometimes at random times.5 At Alternative to Meds Center, we may be able to offer some assistance to people suffering symptoms of MdDS including medication tapering, holistic medication alternatives, and naturopathic (non-drug-based) mental health treatments.

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Don’t Fall into a Cycle of Prescription Medicating and Doctor Visits

The symptoms of MdDS are often tangled up with mental health problems, such as stress and anxiety, prescription medication, drug or alcohol overuse, and lack of sleep. A person may feel triggered by crowds, sudden movements, flickering lights, busy or enclosed areas, and loud sounds. The syndrome is felt to be under-reported in the medical literature, where relatively few cases have been researched. We may be able to help you overcome the symptoms that drugs could not,  by balancing drug-free mental health strategies, paired with effective alternatives to prescription drugs.

We Employ Holistic, Drug-free Approaches to Stabilize the Brain and Body

Traditional medicine notes that medications such as benzodiazepines can at least temporarily suppress the brain circuits and nerves that are involved in balance. However, these medications do not appear to provide permanent relief. And benzodiazepines are not recommended for long-term use beyond a few weeks at most.12 As the recommended medications for this syndrome do not typically provide lasting success, Alternative to Meds Center may be able to offer effective alternative options besides medication while using non-drug-based treatments to alleviate the symptoms of MdDS.

Our professionals get to the bottom of why you started having symptoms.

Alternative to Meds Center has achieved holistic treatment success for Mal de Debarquement Syndrome using safe methods of chelation. Chelation and cleansing can remove heavy metals and other neurotoxins from the body. Alternative to Meds Center uses various detoxification methods to remove harmful neurotoxins, such as built-up pesticides or other chemical burdens. Through supporting the repair of the nervous system and providing other beneficial treatments, restoration of balance become a very real possibility for many. We use lab testing to isolate toxic accumulations. Additionally, we investigate levels of vitamins, minerals, and other micronutrients. In these ways, we can design and implement a set of strategies including neurotoxin removal, neurotransmitter rehabilitation, and introducing nutrition and dietary regimens to assist the transition back to stability.

All aspects of treatment are customized to meet each client’s exact needs.

holistic MdDS treatmentsAlternative to Meds Center’s objective is to achieve lasting relief from mental health problems, as well as any medication-related issues. We are pleased to present holistic treatment options.  Effective, lasting solutions for each of our clients are provided with an entirely individualized therapy program. Alternative drug-free treatments for medication withdrawal and mental health concerns include IV treatments, trainer-led exercise, Qigong, Equine therapy, diet corrections, therapeutic massage, yoga, meditation, acupuncture, therapeutic use of supplements, holistic detox, counseling, and lab testing to find any underlying issues.

Traditional Chinese Medicine has proved highly beneficial in the recovery of natural mental health at Alternative to Meds Center. QiGong is one example that produces many health benefits, as noted in clinical studies published in the American Journal of Health Promotion. Another promising pilot study in 2015 showed acupuncture provided immediate relief for symptoms of dizziness and vertigo. Gentle therapies like these can be practical and extremely helpful for those suffering from MdDS and similar conditions.10,11

Medical oversight, educational classes, and compassionate staff deliver world-class treatment in a luxurious residential facility.4

Alternative to Meds Center can help you address mental and physical health without drugs. Trained counselors are here to answer all of your questions about treatment for Mal de Debarquement-type symptoms that may need a more comprehensive approach so you can find the relief that you are seeking.

1. Saha K, Fife T. “Mal de debarquement syndrome- Review and proposed diagnostic criteria.” Neurol Clin Pract 2015 Jun; 5(3):209-215 PMID 29443215 [cited 2022 Aug 29]

2. Contributing authors Vestibular Disorders Association and Jeffry kramer MD, Mercy Hospital Chicago, published in Rare Disease Database (NORD) “Mal de Debarquement.” [publinshed online] [cited 2022 Aug 29]

3. The Hearing Review, “Classification of Audiovestibular Symptoms Related to Migraine, part 2, Mal de Debarquement Syndrome.” 2002 [online] [cited 2022 Aug 29]

4. Mucci V et al., “Mal de Debarquement Syndrome: a survey on subtypes, misdiagnoses, onset, and associated psychological features.” J Neurol. 2018; 265(3): 486-499 PMID 29305644 [online] 2018 Jan 5 [cited 2022 Aug 29]

5. Canceri J, et al.,”Examination of Current Treatments and Symptom Management Strategies Used by Patients with Mal de Debarquement Syndrome.” Front Neurol. 2018; 9: 943 [online] 2018 Nov 12 PMID 30483208 [cited 2022 Aug 29]

6. Saha K, Cha YH. Mal de Debarquement Syndrome. Semin Neurol. 2020 Feb;40(1):160-164. doi: 10.1055/s-0039-3402740. Epub 2020 Jan 27. PMID: 31986543. [cited 2022 Aug 29]

7. Hain TC, Cherchi M. Mal de débarquement syndrome. Handb Clin Neurol. 2016;137:391-5. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-444-63437-5.00028-5. PMID: 27638086. [cited 2022 Aug 29]

8. Van Ombergen A, Van Rompaey V, Maes LK, Van de Heyning PH, Wuyts FL. Mal de debarquement syndrome: a systematic review. J Neurol. 2016 May;263(5):843-854. doi: 10.1007/s00415-015-7962-6. Epub 2015 Nov 11. PMID: 26559820; PMCID: PMC4859840. [cited 2022 Aug 29]

9. MdDS Foundation MdDS makes You Feel Like You’re Still on the Boat [published online 8.21.17] [cited 2022 Aug 29]

10. Chiu CW, Lee TC, Hsu PC, Chen CY, Chang SC, Chiang JY, Lo LC. Efficacy and safety of acupuncture for dizziness and vertigo in emergency department: a pilot cohort study. BMC Complement Altern Med. 2015 Jun 9;15:173. doi: 10.1186/s12906-015-0704-6. PMID: 26055400; PMCID: PMC4459064. [cited 2022 Aug 29]

11. Jahnke R, Larkey L, Rogers C, Etnier J, Lin F. A comprehensive review of health benefits of qigong and tai chi. Am J Health Promot. 2010 Jul-Aug;24(6):e1-e25. doi: 10.4278/ajhp.081013-LIT-248. PMID: 20594090; PMCID: PMC3085832.[cited 2023 Mar 22]

12. Ashton H. Guidelines for the rational use of benzodiazepines. When and what to use. Drugs. 1994 Jul;48(1):25-40. doi: 10.2165/00003495-199448010-00004. PMID: 7525193. [cited 2023 July 6]

Originally Published Sep 19, 2018 by Diane Ridaeus

This content has been reviewed and approved by a licensed physician.

Dr. Samuel Lee

Dr. Samuel Lee is a board-certified psychiatrist, specializing in a spiritually-based mental health discipline and integrative approaches. He graduated with an MD at Loma Linda University School of Medicine and did a residency in psychiatry at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center and University of Washington School of Medicine in Seattle. He has also been an inpatient adult psychiatrist at Kaweah Delta Mental Health Hospital and the primary attending geriatric psychiatrist at the Auerbach Inpatient Psychiatric Jewish Home Hospital. In addition, he served as the general adult outpatient psychiatrist at Kaiser Permanente.  He is board-certified in psychiatry and neurology and has a B.A. Magna Cum Laude in Religion from Pacific Union College. His specialty is in natural healing techniques that promote the body’s innate ability to heal itself.

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