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How to Beat Motion Sickness


Stern recently completed a study showing that a high-protein liquid drink is better than a high-carbohydrate liquid drink for reducing nausea. "It used to be thought things like crackers were best [for nausea], but from our work we have decided that protein would be even better," he says.

"If you are going by car, if you can be the driver, I can almost guarantee you won't get motion sickness," says Stern. "The next best thing is to sit in the passenger seat, look out the front window a lot, so that you see the curves coming up in the road, you see the stop sign, etc.

"Wrist bands help a lot of people by applying pressure to the P6 point according to traditional Chinese medicine. That point supposedly controls nausea," says Stern. If your body adapts to the wristband and you start feeling symptoms again, Stern advises using your thumb to put pressure on the spot, which is located on the inner arm about 1.5 inches above the crease of the wrist, between the two tendons there.

A new FDA-approved device, called the ReliefBand, sends a small electrical current through the same spot. The band sells for $125 through online retailers.

Stern has been involved in some of the studies on the band. "It has been very helpful for people with motion sickness and morning sickness, and now it is being tried on people undergoing chemotherapy," he says.

As for which approach -- pressure or electrical current -- works best, Stern says it is "quite individual."

Another scientifically proven method is ginger. "In the U.S., it is most commonly taken as the dried root of ginger plant put into a capsule," says Stern, who is about to do a study with ginger. "We don't know how it works."

Then there are the medicinal stand-bys: over-the-counter drugs, like Dramamine and Bonine, and prescription products like scopolamine patches.

"All those [over-the-counter] products like Dramamine and Bonine and a few others are antihistamines, and they tend to make people very sleepy. If [you] can put up with being sleepy ... try the different products, because they are different chemically and some people will get help from one and some from another," Stern says. The patch, he adds, can cause pretty severe side effects, like dry mouth and blurred vision.

For Messer, medication like Dramamine and the patch helped, but that was about it. "I have tried almost every nonmedical thing, the only one that works is sleeping," says Messer, who despite her super-sensitivity, sails avidly, flies frequently, and drives a lot. "Sitting in the front is better than sitting in the back, but it is not foolproof."

Messer's advice mirrors that of Stern's: "Try everything that you can to see what works best for you. Find out if there is a time of day that is worse for you, and always argue to be the driver."

If all else fails, Stern has one last bit of advice. "Remember, no one ever died of motion sickness," he says, adding, "They might wish they did, though."


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