I have friends who can only sit in the front seat of the car, other friends who can’t set foot on a boat, and one of my daughters used to throw up every time she was on an airplane (that was fun…). All of these people suffer from motion sickness, an affliction that can limit your activities and make you feel miserable if you can’t avoid the situations that trigger it.
There are prescriptions and over the counter medications as well as natural and herbal remedies – and they are not mutually exclusive. If the natural remedies don’t work you can try the drugstore alternatives.
If you feel dizzy or have mild motion sickness, focus on a fixed point. On a boat, concentrate your focus on the shore. Focusing your eyes helps your brain to feel like it’s not moving.
Ginger helps the body with digestion and it can also ease nausea. In a 2003 study published in the Journal of Physiology it was found that people who took ginger supplements before doing an activity that required motion suffered less from nausea than those who didn’t. You can take ginger supplements, drink ginger tea or suck on ginger candies.
Many people swear by the acupressure bands. These are based on Chinese medicine that tries to balance the flow of energy in the body. If you don’t have the bands, use your thumbs to press inside your arm about two inches up from your wrist. Hold until the nausea eases. A popular band is made by Sea Bands. $9.99 a pair.
Aromatherapy helps some travelers. Oils from lavender and peppermint are said to alleviate nausea. While there is no evidence that aromatherapy is an effective remedy for nausea, the C.D.C (Center for Disease Control) has reported that stimulating other senses might distract the sufferers from the nausea.
Several studies investigating nausea resulting from chemotherapy have reported that music therapy lessens anxiety and nausea, relieves pain after surgery and reduces seasickness. Again the reason appears to be distraction. According to a study in 2012 at the University Medical Center in Hamburg, Germany, distraction reduces the amount of pain signals. So the next time you’re going to be in motion, rock out to your favorite playlist!
From the drugstore:
Antihistamines like Benadryl block signals in the brain that control nausea and vomiting. The specific antihistamines are dimenhydrinate (found in Original Dramamine), meclizine (found in Bomine) and diphenhydramine (in Benedryl). Take the recommended dose about an hour before travel. Antihistamines can make you drowsy so don’t drive.
I discovered an over the counter remedy called Stugeron in London many years ago. It worked better than any other non-prescriptive remedy for me. It didn’t make me drowsy. I once took it after the nausea had begun and the Stugeron still was able to alleviate my motion sickness. It contains an antihistamine called cinnarizine that I don’t think the FDA has approved for the U.S. I am a real fan and I buy loads of it for myself and all my friends when I’m in Britain. It is made by Johnson & Johnson and I don’t know why it has never been sold here. Get some if you can!
If you are on a cruise or a long drive, a prescription patch might be the answer. The patch is sold as Transderm Scop and contains scopolamine. The patch is worn behind the ear and works the same way the antihistamines do – by blocking the brain signals interfering with the control of nausea and vomiting. The patch lasts longer than the antihistamines by releasing a steady dose of medication over three days. It should be applied behind your ear four hours before travel. It is sold by prescription only but for information go to www.transdermscop.com.
Over 12 million women who suffer from migraines also suffer from motion sickness. It is believed that the same area of the brainstem is involved in both conditions. Rizatriptan has been shown to lessen motion sickness in a high percentage of migraine patients. It requires a prescription. It should be taken two hours before travel.