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Alternative Motion Sickness Treatments

Updated on March 5, 2013

Motion Sickness

It sucks. You really wanted to enjoy that boat trip, but instead, you're worshipping the rail. Or you hesitate about taking a long road trip because you might get sick.

So, you go to the drug store for a solution and you find dramamine. Or...dramamine. Dramamine is so effective for the majority of people and has so few side effects that it has become a standard treatment, readily available over the counter.

However, dramamine can and does have side effects. It can cause drowsiness, dizziness and dry mouth and throat. Coordination problems and temporary vision and hearing issues have also been reported. Rarely, it can cause an accelerated heart rate and associated problems. There is strong evidence that dramamine can affect your ability to make decisions.

For a small number of people, dramamine has another side effect: Nausea. That is to say, dramamine can actually make motion sickness worse in some individuals. Yet, it's often the only drug available.

If you can't take dramamine, or get side effects that bother you, what are the alternatives? There are, in fact, quite a few - although finding them can take some creativity and work.


Ginger is often used to treat digestive problems and mild nausea. It has even been prescribed for patients on chemo and some women have found it effective for relieving morning sickness.

Some studies have shown that ginger is highly effective, others have found that it does not work. This probably means that ginger does not work for everyone. However, the only known side effect is that it may interact badly with blood thinners such as warfarin.

Therefore, assuming you aren't on a blood thinner, ginger is well worth trying. If you like the taste, then crystallized ginger is a tasty option. Ginger soda can also help, as long as you check the ingredients and make sure it actually contains real ginger.

If you find the taste unpleasant, most health food stores sell ginger capsules or tablets. These are intended for daily maintenance - for motion sickness treatment, you will want to raise the dose.

Prescription Medications

If your motion sickness is bad, common, and affecting your life, then you may want to talk to your doctor about a prescription anti-nausea medication.

Most likely, if he does prescribe something, it will be a drug called scopolamine. This is generally taken as a patch 6 to 8 hours before travel. As it lasts three days, it is perfect to take before a cruise (by the time it wears off, you should have your sea legs). It can, however, have similar side effects to dramamine.

There are several other drugs that may be prescribed if scopolamine does not work or has too many side effects.

Magnetic Bracelets and Acupressure

One common alternative treatment is to wear a magnetic bracelet. These are touted as a miracle cure.

Actually, a magnetic bracelet is nothing more than a form of acupressure. As such, it works very well for the people it works for - and not at all for a lot of people. The acupressure point for motion sickness is on the inside of the wrist. It is therefore possible to test the likelihood of whether a bracelet will work by applying constant pressure to that point and seeing if symptoms decrease. The acupressure point is about two fingernails up the arm from the center of the wrist crease.

If it works, it has no side effects...if it works.

Other Herbs

In addition to ginger, some other herbs have been cited as having at least some effectiveness. The ones most commonly listed are peppermint (check with your doctor, as it can interact with some medications), black horehound (not recommended for Parkinson's patients) and chamomile. All three of these can be taken as teas.

Herbal seasickness capsules often combine ginger with one or more of these other herbs - check the ingredients. You may have to try several to find the one that works best for you. Be careful about taking stronger herbs if you are pregnant or nursing.


Uh...what? Therapy for motion sickness? Truth is that motion sickness can actually be psychosomatic - I know somebody who starts to get all of the symptoms of seasickness just from standing on the dock.

If you start to feel nauseous even thinking about sea or air travel, especially if you had a bad experience with a rough trip as a child, then your motion sickness might be all in your head.

Also, for some people, motion sickness can set up a vicious cycle of dread - anxiety about being nauseous makes you nauseous, which then feeds back on itself. Some forms of cognitive behavioral therapy or desensitization therapy can help with this. So can learning meditation and relaxation techniques.


Also, think about your behavior on trips. There are some things that can increase or decrease motion sickness.

1. Avoid heavy, greasy meals when traveling. If you are prone to airsickness, avoid the McDonald's in the terminal and choose a light, healthy option. Also, don't overeat.

2. Don't travel on an empty stomach. It's tempting to avoid eating altogether, but this can actually make symptoms worse. Some people find eating bland crackers very helpful.

3. Drink soda. Ginger ale is the best, the second best is actually coke. Carbonated beverages can relieve nausea symptoms.

4. Don't read. Or text. Reading often aggravates motion sickness and can bring it on even in people not normally prone to it.

5. Keep your eyes on the horizon. This can help your inner ear calibrate properly to the motion.

6. Sit towards the front of the vehicle. If possible, when flying, choose a seat towards the front of the plane. Call shotgun when traveling in a car, and sit in the front of buses. Avoid seats right over the engine in a bus. Do not sit facing backwards on a train.

7. Resist the temptation to flee to the bottom of the boat. The very best place to be if you are feeling nauseous is on deck where you can see the horizon. Also, avoid the duty free store - it often smells of perfume and that can make things worse. On a cruse, pay the extra for an outside cabin with a window if possible.

8. Don't smoke. Don't drink alcohol.

9. If you have an air vent, turn the flow toward your face.

All of these things will help. Also bear in mind that on longer sea trips, the majority of people gain their sea legs within the first 24 hours.


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    • jenniferrpovey profile image

      jenniferrpovey 6 years ago

      I wouldn't tout that soda is good for you all the time, but on long car trips it can really help keep your stomach settled.

      Like most things, it's fine if you don't drink too much of it.

    • profile image

      cr00059n 6 years ago

      These treatments for Motion Sickness are like a treat for me. That's because soda is my favorite drink. A health article or treatment tip that points of how good soda and ginger ale are for you is rare. Thanks for an incredible article that promotes the use of soda fountains. Thanks Jenni, keep up the excellent work. Loved reading this, and I might go for a soda after this.

    • debbie roberts profile image

      Debbie Roberts 6 years ago from Greece

      I dread having to take our two children anywhere for too long in the car as they both suffer with car sickness.Even now they're older it's not much better. I took ginger myself when pregnant and found it helped, but never thought to try it on the children, will have to try it next time.

      Good hub, thank you.

    • shesacraftymom profile image

      shesacraftymom 6 years ago

      I tried the bracelet for morning sickness when pregnant with my daughter. I wore it religiously, wishing for it to work, but I'm not sure it helped much. I did find that peppermint tea helped. Great suggestions! Rated up and useful!