Whether on air, land, or sea, some people are immune to motion sickness, and others just aren’t. These are the unhappy people who spend entire vacations green-faced and prostrate; while their travel companions enjoy the view, people with motion sickness hope for nothing more than to avoid another debilitating round of vomiting. Even after the trip is over, they may feel ill for several days. If you’re a member of this unfortu- nate segment of the population, you may be tempted to avoid travel altogether. Before you give up your vacations, however, give these suggestions a try. They might not com- pletely eliminate motion sickness, but often they will signiﬁcantly reduce the symptoms.
Motion sickness occurs when the mechanism that controls internal equilibrium is disturbed. One of the most important body structures for maintaining balance is the vestibular apparatus, located in the inner ear. Rolling or bumpy movements can cause the ear’s ﬂuid to slosh around, and sometimes the ﬂow of liquid pushes against the vestibular apparatus, which in turn sends alarm messages along the nerve pathways. These messages are translated in the brain as the familiar feelings of nausea, dizzi- ness, cold sweats, or rapid breathing, and they’re probably meant as a kind of warn- ing system, telling you in no uncertain terms that the body is facing a grave danger. The problem, of course, is that there is no danger—just a road, perhaps, with an unusual number of hills and sharp turns.
The eyes also contribute to the body’s sense of balance, or lack thereof. When you’re sitting in a train during a smooth ride over ﬂat land, for example, your ear ﬂuid remains stable, which tells your brain that the body is still and unmoving. But your eyes are sending a completely different message: they report that the landscape is whipping by at seventy miles per hour. These conﬂicting transmissions can upset your equilibrium, which explains how some people can get sick just from watching a movie about riding in a hot-air balloon.
Neither of these explanations helps us understand why some people develop motion sickness and others actually enjoy riding the waves. We do know, however, that anxiety, stress, poor dietary habits, low air quality, and dehydration all contribute to the condition, and this information gives us a good place to start for treatment. If you’re prone to motion sickness, plan ahead so that you can avoid these aggravating factors. You can also use several techniques to reduce your chances of feeling nau- seated, but in most cases, you must employ them before you travel. By the time you’re really sick, you may not be able to hold down any therapeutic foods or herbs.
• Cold sweats
• Rapid breathing
• Loss of coordination
• Disturbance of inner ear
• Conﬂicting messages sent to the
brain from the eyes and the inner
• Anxiety and stress
• Eating heavy foods before or during travel
• Poor ventilation
The following tests help assess possible reasons for motion sickness: Inner ear or vision testing by your doctor
Food and environmental allergies/sensitivities—blood, electrodermal
Eat lightly before your trip and while traveling. Soups and steamed vegetables will help your stomach stay calm. If you’re taking a trip on a commercial airliner, a train, or a ship, phone ahead and explain that you’ll need special meals. Most companies are happy to provide vegetarian or healthier dishes for their customers.
Incorporate wheat germ or brown rice into your meals. These foods are high in B vitamins, which prevent stomach upset and relieve stress. Whole-grain crackers are another good source of this nutrient, so bring some along with you and make a snack of them. You may also want to nibble on a few if you feel queasy.
Chew on parsley, or add it to your meals, as it relieves nausea.
Stay hydrated. Drink at least one glass of clean water every two waking hours, more if you’re going to be in the dry atmosphere of an airplane cabin. Liquids in general will feel more soothing if you drink them at room temperature or slightly heated.
If you feel queasiness coming on, suck on a slice of lemon or lime.
Food to Avoid
Beginning a day or two before your trip, avoid heavy foods—nothing fried, greasy, or fatty. Fats only contribute to nausea and stomach upset.
If you’re going on vacation, you may be in a celebratory mood. Resist the temp- tation to drink even a little alcohol, which is dehydrating and can negatively affect the inner ear.
Many people change their diets when they travel, but if you’re subject to motion sickness, this is not the best time to try new foods or to indulge yourself with treats.
Super Seven Prescriptions—Motion Sickness
Super Prescription #1 Ginger (Zingiber ofﬁcinale)
Sip on a cup of fresh ginger tea, or take 500 mg of the capsule form or 2 ml of gin- ger extract three to four times daily.
Super Prescription #2 Homeopathic Combination Motion Sickness/Nausea formula
This contains a mixture of the most common remedies used for motion sickness. Take as directed on the container.
Super Prescription #3 Peppermint (Mentha piperita)
Sip on a cup of peppermint tea, or take 500 mg of the capsule form or 2 ml of peppermint extract three to four times daily.
Super Prescription #4 Vitamin B6
Take 50 mg daily to prevent nausea.
Super Prescription #5 Magnesium
Take 250 mg twice daily to prevent stomach acidity and cramping.
Super Prescription #6 Black horehound (Ballota nigra)
Sip on a cup of tea, or take 2 ml of the tincture extract three to four times daily.
Super Prescription #7 Cinnamon (Cinnamomum zeylanicum)
Sip on a cup of tea, or take 1 ml of the tincture extract three to four times daily.
Borax is helpful for downward motions, such as those from an airplane, that make a per- son nauseous. The person may also be sensitive to noise, warm temperatures, and smoke.
Cocculus is a great remedy for nausea and dizziness that occur while riding in a vehicle like a car or a boat. The smell or the thought of food makes the nausea worse, while the symptoms are improved from fresh air. The motion sickness is worse from not getting enough sleep.
Petroleum is for nausea and dizziness that happens from rising. There is a sinking sensation in the stomach. The person feels better from eating and worse from fresh air.
Tabacum is helpful when violent nausea, dizziness, cold sweating, and faintness occur from the least motion. The person feels much better in the cool air or from vomiting.
Acupressure offers quick, effective relief of motion sickness. For more information about pressure points and administering treatment, see pages 668–675.
• If you can massage only one point, make that point Pericardium 6. It will greatly reduce nausea and even stop vomiting. Many health-food stores carry inexpensive acupressure bracelets that are made to provide constant steady pressure against this point; consider buying one before your next trip.
• Pericardium 5 is another good point for nausea relief. You can alternate between the two Pericardium wrist points if you have a few moments.
• Stomach 36 will help you properly digest the food you’ve eaten.
Work the area corresponding to the ear to improve your sense of balance.
Several studies have found that ginger is an effective remedy for motion sickness. A study in 1982 revealed that ginger was more effective than the drug Dramamine for reduc- ing motion sickness. A later study completed in 1994, which involved 1,741 people, conﬁrmed that ginger was very effective for motion sickness.
To reduce tension and increase circulation to the head, work the neck and the cervicals.
Essential oils of ginger and peppermint are quite helpful when the herbs can’t be taken orally. Bring along a vial of either oil; if you begin to feel sick, place the container under your nose and inhale deeply. For a more subtle but longer-lasting effect, rub some ginger or peppermint cream onto your skin before and during your trip.
Deep breathing relieves tension and also helps prevent the onset of nausea. Spend some quiet time before your trip relaxing and consciously attending to your breath- ing. While you’re traveling, take a few minutes every hour to relax with deep breaths.
Beginning a few days before your trip—give yourself more time if you’re very anx- ious about motion sickness—and spend some time each day visualizing a success- ful, sickness-free journey. Imagine yourself as you begin the trip, and see yourself healthy and calm as you go through the details of your travels.
• Be wary of over-the-counter motion sickness pills. They make most people very drowsy and often have other unwanted side effects.
• Stuffy rooms and cars can make nausea worse. If it’s at all possible, try to open a window or stop at regular intervals for fresh air. If you’re on a ship, try to think of sea air as a tonic, and go above deck as often as you can.
• Again, where possible, keep your eyes open and focused on a stationary object. This will help reduce conﬂicting signals from your eyes and ears.
• If you’re traveling by car or bus, sit up front, where there’s less likely to be jar- ring movement.
• Some people are so susceptible to motion sickness that it threatens to conﬁne them to their homes. If this describes you, talk to your doctor. He or she can usually prescribe medication that will help.