Nausea and dizziness really have a way of wrecking a travel experience. Regardless of the mode of transportation, people who get motion sickness feel everything around them continue to move as their eyes and inner ears transmit contradictory sensory information to the brain. This makes the brain unsure of its placement in space and awareness of which direction the body is moving. Sound fun? Not so much. Once the brain receives these contradictory signals, the body responds by feeling light-headed and nauseous, hyperventilating, and vomiting.
While over-the-counter medications like Dramamine help with motion sickness symptoms, they also have unattractive side effects that can make your day a little less smooth, depending on how your body reacts to the drug. Relying on a medication alone is also less adaptive for your brain and body, helping you less in the long run. Trying to actively combat the source of your problems by eliminating certain activities can greatly help. However, there are certain times when you may be on a long trip and need more than will power to help you stay normal. Instead of OTCs, try herbal remedies if you need more than a focal point in the distance. Research supports that certain herbs can help.
How to Treat Motion Sickness at Home (and While Traveling)
Ginger is an incredible herb: its uses are many, and it is powerful and effective. As it has been used for centuries to fight nausea and has also been shown in a few studies to help with motion sickness. Ginger is an excellent digestive aid and regulates blood flow, so taken as a tea, or just grated bits from the root, it can provide multiple health benefits in one dose. Motion sickness sufferers will appreciate what it can do without having any major side effects, except for a potentially increased risk of bleeding. Take 250 mg three times daily as needed, or make a tea with 1 teaspoon of ginger for each cup of hot water, steep for 10-20 minutes covered, and drink 2-4 cups daily.
Mentha piperita, or peppermint, is another herb known to reduce nausea, and strengthen the body’s systems to help with motion sickness. Though it can interact negatively with some medications, it is generally safe. You should always ask your doctor before taking an herb if you are on medications. Peppermint works effectively when taken as an extract or coasted tablet two to three times per day as needed. Tea can be made with 1 teaspoon of peppermint leaves for every cup of hot water, steeped for 5-10 minutes covered. Drink 2-4 cups per day.
No research has been conducted to support the evidence of this herb’s effectiveness for motion sickness, though it is a traditional natural remedy. It is recommended to take black horehound three times daily in a 1-2 ml tincture or 1-2 teaspoons of leaves in a tea. Persons who take medications for Parkinson’s disease should ask their doctor before using black horehound.
Choose a Good Seat
When traveling in any mode of transportation, you want to make sure you have a spot with the least amount of movement. In planes, the aisle seat over a wing is usually your best bet. The front seat of a car is best when riding as a passenger – but the driver’s seat is even more preferable as you are focused on the road and not your queasiness. Train cars towards the front are usually less shaky than others, and on a ship, you should locate a cabin near the center. And stay seated – standing while in a moving vehicle is bound to upset your stomach.
Know your body. If eating doesn’t help your nausea, avoid food or eat very little before your ride. Test out eating and not eating to see how your body responds. Sometimes eating plain crackers or a piece of bread about an hour before you depart can help. If it doesn’t, don’t eat before you leave so your stomach is empty in cause you are nauseated. Additionally, heavy, greasy or spicy foods and their respective scents can trigger motion sickness before or during trip. Avoid eating or coming in contact with such foods, if possible.
Drinking alcohol of any kind can worsen motion sickness, so don’t drink on a plane, train, or before you go anywhere if you’re prone to motion sickness. Sorry, no watery airline cocktails for you.
Focus On the Horizon
I always loved the mass hysteria of assumed motion sickness when traveling on a ferry boat near when I grew up. It went 17 miles per hour. Most of the passengers would be crowded around the front of the boat to stare at the horizon the majority of the ride, and many times it wasn’t because of the view, it was because that many people thought they would get seasick. However, it is true that if you stare at a fixed point that doesn’t move, like where the sky meets land or water, your body can better understand that it is not flipping upside down. Your body matches what it sees, and your nausea and dizziness can be calmed by finding something still.
Save Your Reading for a Chair
Reading in a moving vessel of any sort is tempting for long trips, but not a good idea for motion sickness. Have you ever tried to read in a car with a bad driver? It can be painful even if you don’t usually get motion sick. Your eyes focus on something still, but your body feels movement, so your brain sends out contradictory signals again, and symptoms persist.
1. University of Maryland Medical Center. Motion Sickness.
2. Discovery Health. 21 Home Remedies for Motion Sickness.
3. Image: buzzle.com