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Natural Remedies for Motion Sickness

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Updated March 23, 2013

What is Motion Sickness?

Motion sickness refers to the uneasiness, nausea, cold sweats, dizziness, and/or vomiting that can be brought on by car, train, plane, boat, or any other form of transportation.

In general, the more people travel, the more easily they adjust to the movement.

Natural Remedies for Motion Sickness

Here are two natural remedies that are used for motion sickness.

Ginger

Ginger (Zingiber officinale) is one of the more popular natural remedies for motion sickness. It has been used for centuries in cooking and medicinally. The Food and Drug Administration classifies ginger as "generally recognized as safe".

Studies conducted so far suggest that it may help reduce motion sickness, but it doesn't appear to be help if the nausea is severe.

For example, one study involving 1,489 people on a ship compared ginger to medications and found that ginger was as effective as the medications for motion sickness.

A Swedish study involving 79 naval cadets found that one gram of ginger could reduce vomiting and cold sweats. There was no significant reduction in nausea or vertigo.

Two small studies, including one funded by NASA, found that ginger was not more effective than placebo at reducing simulated motion sickness. Larger, well-designed studies are needed before we can conclude that ginger is effective for motion sickness.

Ginger should not be used within two weeks before or after surgery or by people taking "blood-thinning" medication such as warfarin (Coumadin) because it may interfere with blood clotting and prolong bleeding time. In addition, some sources say there is not enough information about the safety of ginger in pregnant women, saying that ginger inhibits an enzyme called thromboxane synthetase and may possibly influence sex steroid differentiation in the fetal brain. Studies have not confirmed this.

For more information about ginger, see the list of articles on ginger.

Acupressure

According to traditional Chinese medicine, pressing on an acupuncture point called "pericardium 6" (P6) may relieve nausea and motion sickness. The point is located on the inside of the forearm, about two inches above the crease of the wrist.

A person can press on the point using the index finger of the opposite hand.

Alternatively, acupressure wrist bands, often marketed as "sea bands", stimulate the point. The bands are worn on the forearm. They have a plastic button or bead that puts pressure on the p6 point. The person wearing the band can also press on the bead for additional stimulation. Acupressure bands cost less than $10 for a pair and can be found online or in some health food stores.

Other Tips for Preventing Motion Sickness

  • If you know that you get motion sickness, keep your head still. Rest your head against your seat.
  • Don't read. Depending on your mode of travel, try focusing your gaze on a stationary, distant object.
  • Avoid spicy foods, alcohol, or overeating. You may wish to try having dry crackers or a carbonated beverage to settle your stomach in case your stomach is upset.

Sources

Alkaissi A, Ledin T, Odkvist LM, Kalman S. P6 acupressure increases tolerance to nauseogenic motion stimulation in women at high risk for PONV. Can J Anaesth. 52.7 (2005): 703-709.

Ernst E, Pittler MH. Efficacy of ginger for nausea and vomiting: a systematic review of randomized clinical trials. Br J Anaesth. 84.3 (2000): 367-371.

Grontved A, Brask T, Kambskard J, Hentzer E. Ginger root against seasickness. A controlled trial on the open sea. Acta Otolaryngol. 105.1-2 (1988): 45-49.

Hu S, Stritzel R, Chandler A, Stern RM. P6 acupressure reduces symptoms of vection-induced motion sickness. Aviat Space Environ Med. 66.7 (1995): 631-634.

Schmid R, Schick T, Steffen R, Tschopp A, Wilk T. Comparison of Seven Commonly Used Agents for Prophylaxis of Seasickness. J Travel Med. 1.4 (1994): 203-206.

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