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
"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
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
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
"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
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."