Natural Cures for Motion Sickness

Many of us experience motion sickness on a regular basis. Riding in a car on a twisting mountain road, or on a boat in choppy seas, or in an airplane experiencing routine turbulence can all set off motion sickness. Mild symptoms include headache and nausea; severe symptoms include dizziness, excessive sweating, vomiting, fatigue, and distress.

Motion sickness is caused by the effects of movement on the inner ear. The inner ear controls our balance, but when we are in motion, sometimes the signals our brain receives from the inner ear conflict with signals coming from our eyes — our sight. For instance, if you are in the cabin of a large boat, your inner ear will sense the boat’s movements, but your eyes might not corroborate this information. These mixed signals result in motion sickness.

Most medications for motion sickness must be taken before travel; some medications are sedatives, whereas others reduce feelings of nausea. Once motion sickness starts, it’s hard to control while you are still in motion, so follow the directions that come with your prescription precisely, taking the medication at the prescribed time before travel.

There are also some natural remedies for motion sickness that may help. Ginger is one natural food that has been used for millennia in Asia to treat various conditions, including nausea, upset stomach, and diarrhea. Ginger has anti-inflammatory properties that can ease joint pain associated with arthritis. And ginger has been shown to thin the blood, reducing cholesterol levels. Ginger has an advantage over prescription medications in that, as a natural substance, it does not cause side effects.

Ginger can be consumed as fresh root, as a cooking spice, boiled in tea, as capsules or tablets, as liquid extract, as candied slices, and in other forms. To prevent motion sickness, it is recommended to take ginger up 12 hours before traveling; or if you are going to take a long flight or cruise, take ginger for several days leading up to your travel. A few grams of powdered ginger per day, or the equivalent in another form, should be sufficient. Ginger is of course present in gingersnap cookies and ginger ale, but at a much lower content, so these snack foods may not be as effective as ginger in purer form.

Another natural remedy that is commonly mentioned is using an acupuncture wrist band. These are bands that you wear on your wrists; the bands have plastic studs that press gently into your wrists. The pressure that your body senses in your wrists restores the balance that has been thrown askew in your inner ears. It may seem odd that the brain can be tricked in such a way, but acupuncture wrist bands have been shown to work effectively in countering motion sickness.

There are plenty of common sense precautions that you can take before traveling as well that can help reduce your chance of getting motion sickness. Avoid eating greasy or acidic foods for several hours before travel, including coffee, but don’t starve yourself, as an empty stomach is just as dangerous. Eat fruit, breads, and cereals, and drink low-acid beverages such as milk, apple juice, and water. In fact, drink plenty of water, both before and during your travel. Alcohol is another substance to avoid; if you are on a party cruise, however, and want to keep up with your mates, alternate alcoholic drinks with glasses of plain water.

If you do start to feel queasy, looking toward a distance point is better than focusing on something in the foreground. If you have soda crackers, these help reduce nausea.

If you are susceptible to motion sickness, it may be difficult to avoid completely, but there are steps you can take to at least alleviate your discomfort.