Betahistine in the treatment of vertigo. History and clinical implications of recent pharmacological researches

Acta Otorhinolaryngol Ital. 2001 Jun;21(3 Suppl 66):1-7.


A short profile of betahistine and its activity in treatment of Menière's disease and other forms of peripheral vertigo is presented. The clinical efficacy of betahistine is documented by a series of more than twenty controlled clinical studies, performed in the years 1966-2000. Basic researches initially proved that bethaistine acts trough a vasodilating action on inner ear and cerebral blood flow (Suga and Snow, 1969; Martinez, 1972). In the following years this activity was confirmed using the modern laser doppler flowmetry technique (Laurikainen et al, 1998). Further recent studies proved that betahistine acts on the central vestibular histaminergic system as a weak H1 agonist and a strong H3 antagonist (Arrang et al., 1985), improving the process of vestibular compensation (Tighilet et al., 1995) as well as on peripheral labyrinthine receptors, reducing the spontaneous firing rate but not the activity induced by thermal or mechanical stimulation (Botta et al., 1998). More than forty years after its discovery, this series of studies carried out in the second half of the 90s leads to the conclusion that betahistine is a drug which maintains its scientific interest and its pharmacological potential in the treatment of vertigo.

Publication types

  • Historical Article

MeSH terms

  • Betahistine / history*
  • Betahistine / therapeutic use
  • History, 20th Century
  • Meniere Disease / drug therapy
  • Meniere Disease / history
  • Research
  • Vasodilator Agents / history*
  • Vasodilator Agents / therapeutic use
  • Vertigo / drug therapy
  • Vertigo / history*


  • Vasodilator Agents
  • Betahistine