Motion sickness is a common condition that occurs when the brain receives conflicting messages from the inner ears, eyes, and other sensory systems. The exact causes of motion sickness are not fully understood. Still, some factors that may contribute to motion sickness include
Inner ear dysfunction – The inner ear helps us maintain our balance and orientation, and disruptions to this system can result in symptoms of motion sickness.
Visual stimuli – When there is a disconnect between what we see and what our inner ear is experiencing, such as when reading or looking at a screen while in motion, it can trigger motion sickness.
Motion sensitivity – Some people may be more prone to motion sickness due to differences in their sensitivity to motion.
Anxiety or stress – Emotions like anxiety or stress can increase the likelihood of motion sickness.
Genetics – There may be a genetic component to motion sickness susceptibility, as it tends to run in families.
Western medicine provides various options for preventing and treating motion sickness. Some of the standard medical treatments for motion sickness include
Anti-nausea medications: These may be taken before or during travel to avoid and reduce the symptoms of motion sickness. The most prescribed anti-nausea medications include dimenhydrinate, meclizine, and promethazine.
Scopolamine patches: These patches are applied behind the ear and deliver small amounts of the pharmaceutical drug to help prevent motion sickness. They are typically worn for up to 3 days but may cause side effects such as dry mouth, blurred vision, and difficulty urinating.
Ginger supplements: Ginger has natural anti-inflammatory and anti-nausea properties that can help alleviate symptoms of motion sickness for some people. Ginger supplements in pill form or consumed as ginger tea or ginger ale.
Behavioral modifications: Various behavioral changes can help reduce the symptoms of motion sickness, such as keeping the head still, focusing on the horizon or a stationary object, and avoiding reading or using screens while in motion.
Acupressure wristbands: These wristbands apply pressure to specific points on the wrist that are known to relieve nausea. They can be purchased over the counter and may be helpful for some people.
Talk with a healthcare provider before taking any medication or supplement for motion sickness, especially if you have a pre-existing medical condition or take other medicines.
Acupuncture is an alternative medical practice that involves the insertion of tiny needles into specific points of the body. Several studies suggest that acupuncture may help reduce the symptoms of motion sickness. One study published in the American Journal of Chinese Medicine found that acupuncture reduced the severity of motion sickness symptoms and improved patients’ quality of life.
Traditional Chinese medicine practitioners also use acupressure or electro-acupuncture as alternative therapies for motion sickness. These techniques involve applying pressure or a mild electrical current to acupuncture points on the body, which can help regulate energy flow and reduce symptoms of motion sickness. Some seeds and magnets are used in auricular medicine as a part of the acupuncture treatment to help mitigate motion sickness.
Living and practicing in Florida, Acupuncture Zen and Dr. Tony Willcox have many patients who come for treatment before going on a cruise to prevent motion sickness. A getting the body in balance, if you will, beforehand. Treatment often helps patients sustain the motion from being on a cruise ship.