Barbara Roberts, Homeopath

Motion Sickness

This can be debilitating. My eldest has suffered from car sickness since she was a baby and every car journey over 30 minutes – even if straight, flat, Auckland Motorway – has her nauseous and sometimes vomiting.

Motion sickness, travel sickness, car sickness, sea sickness, it’s all the same thing. It’s caused because the brain receives conflicting messages from the inner ear, the eyes and skin and muscle nerve receptors. The “I’m moving/I’m not moving” confusion causes nausea, dizziness and vomiting.

Homeopathically there are a few remedies that have motion sickness as part of their picture-

Nux Vomica – nausea, wants to vomit but can’t. They would feel better if they could. Also tend to be very irritable and grumpy.

Cocculus – worse for travel and fatigue. Nausea and may also have vertigo or dizziness. Sick and empty feeling, they may have increased saliva, but can’t eat.

Tabacum – “deathly” nausea, they may come out in an icy cold sweat when they vomit. Feel better uncovering the abdomen and cold air. Weak, dizzy and faint they may shut their eyes.

Petroleum – irritable and reactive they can sweat with the nausea and have vertigo or a dull headache. They are worse after eating, worse for cold and humidity, and the smell of petrol makes them feel more sick.

Sepia – they feel dull, indifferent and sluggish, faint, tired and heavy. They are better for open air, loose clothing, light food, movement or games like ‘eye spy’. They may have a sinking feeling in the stomach with nausea.

Pulsatilla – nausea worse after rich food, or with fast turning motions. They can be weepy or tearful. They are better sitting up front, for fresh air and cold things.

My daughter uses a combination spray of Petroleum, Tabacum and Cocculus, and we have had no vomiting on a recent holiday with lots of windy roads. She was using the spray and wearing sea bands (see more about this below).

Supplement wise, Ginger is a well known carminative and is antispasmodic. Ginger supplements need to be taken regularly, every couple of hours but should reduce or eliminate the nausea and vomiting.

There are also over the counter drugs you can take for travel sickness.

The most common one is Sea-Legs (Meclozine). The other sedating antihistamine commonly sold for motion sickness is Avomine (Promethazine theoclate) or for children Phenergan elixir (Promethazine Hydrochloride). The main caution with these is that they cause drowsiness, but you can take prior to bed the night before travel, the sedating effect will wear off but the antiemetic effect last through the following day. In a rare few people it can cause hyperactivity instead of drowsiness. If you have a chronic condition or are on medication check with your Pharmacist if this is safe to take.

Scopoderm patches- adults and children over the age of 10. Hyoscine (the active ingredient) is probably the most effective drug for motion sickness. These are transdermal patches and do need to be applied several hours before travel but can be left on for three days. If putting a new patch on after 72 hours place behind the opposite ear to prevent skin irritation. Hands should be washed before and after application. It can cause drowsiness, dry mouth, dizziness, blurred vision or trouble urinating and should not be used by anyone with glaucoma or in pregnancy or breastfeeding. Check with your pharmacist if you are on medication or have a chronic condition if this is safe for you.

Non homeopathic, herbal or pharmaceutical methods of dealing with motion sickness include:

Sea bands – when placed correctly they stimulate the P6 or Nei-Kuan acupressure point and prevent nausea and vomiting.

The motion sickness glasses- they do make you look like some strange kind of alien with four eyes but they do help. The blue liquid is supposed to correct the horizon. Not the kind of thing to wear in public though!

Picture is near San Simeon on the Pacific Coast Highway between Los Angeles and San Francisco.

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