Mal de Debarquent Syndrome with acupuncture

Mal de Debarquent Syndrome ( MdDS ) is an illusory, persistent sensation of motion that occurs most commonly after a boat cruise or airplane flaght. Many people often experience this sensantion temporarily after disembarking, but in the case of MdDS sufferers it can persist for months or even years in some people.

The symptoms are usually most pronounced when the patient is sitting still, in fact, the sensation is usually minimized by actual motion such like walking or driving. MdDS is often more commonly referred to as Disembarkment Syndrome. The first reference to the syndrome was made by Erasmus Darwin, in 1796.

The symptoms most frequently reported include a persistent sensation of motion usually described as rocking, swaying, or bobbing;difficulty maintaining balance; extreme fatigue and difficulty concentration. Other common symptoms include dizziness, visual disturbance, headache or migraine, confusion and anxiety. Many patients also describe ear symptoms such as hyperacusis and tinnitus.

Epidemiology:These trends have recently been confirmed by the MdDS Balance Disorder Foundation in a study of over 100 individuals diagnosed with MdDS. The female:male ratio was approximately 9:1; the average age of onset was 43-45 years.

Diagnosis: MdDS is a diagnosis of exclusion. There are an no definitive tests that confirm MdDS, only tests that rule out other conditions such as Meniere’s disease and benign paroxyamal positional vertigo. Lab teses: normal range of audiagram, vestibular function and electronystagmogram; brain MRI was normal.

Unfortunately, There is no ” cure ” for MdDS. There are some suggested treatments, however, these is a relatively low succes rate. Some of these treatments include: walking while watching the horizon; vestibular therapy; Tricyclic antidepressants; and Benzodiazepines.

Case: A 38-years-old female visited our clinic on June 22, 2005 due to sensation of swaying for two and half years. The patient was took a cruise trip with her family for few days. After getting off the cruise, she started having the symptoms of persisting swaying; difficulty concentration; fatigue and headache. The symptoms were aggravated by strss, walking some distance, and insufficient sleep. When the patient drove a car, the sensation of swaying was alleviated noticeable. The patient cannot go to work. Neurological exam: negative. Brain MRI; brain and neck MRA, MRV; audiogram; and electronystagmogram was normal. Chinese medical exam: taut pulse; light white of tongue coating.


1. Acupuncture: Baihui point (GV20), Yintang point (EX-HN3), Yifeng point (TE17), Waiguan point (TE5), Zusanli point (ST36), Fenglong point (ST40), Sanyinjiao point (SP6) and Taichong point (LR3);
2. Scalp acupuncture;
3. Tapping acupuncture using plum needle for back of bladder maridian;
4. Auricular taping using seeds of vaccaria for points of Shenman, inner ear and brain.

Result of treatment: The treatments were given once a week for 18 times (weeks). The sensation of swaying and other symptoms almost disappeared.