You can use medication to control your symptoms, but people who travel often may want to learn to control — and prevent — symptoms. Mind-body practices, such as cognitive-behavioral therapy and biofeedback, may help. Other alternatives to medication include homeopathy, acupuncture, dietary supplements, dietary changes, and physical exercise.
Medications or motion sickness may cause drowsiness. Pilots, ship crew members, or anyone operating heavy equipment or driving a car should not take them. These medications may help people who have motion sickness:
- Scopolamine (Transderm Scop) — most commonly prescribed medication for motion sickness. It must be taken before symptoms start. It comes in patch form to put behind your ear 6 – 8 hours before travel. The effects last up to 3 days. Side effects may include dry mouth, drowsiness, blurred vision, and disorientation.
- Promethazine (Phenergan) — take 2 hours before travel. The effects last 6 – 8 hours. Side effects may include drowsiness and dry mouth.
- Cyclizine (Marezine) — most effective when taken at least 30 minutes before travel. It is not recommended for children younger than 6, and side effects are similar to scopolamine.
- Dimenhydrinate (Dramamine) — take every 4 – 8 hours. Side effects are similar to scopolamine.
- Meclizine (Bonine) — most effective when taken 1 hour before travel. It is not recommended for children under 12, and side effects may include drowsiness and dry mouth.
Nutrition and Dietary Supplements
A comprehensive treatment plan to treat motion sickness may include a range of complementary and alternative therapies. Ask your team of health care providers about the best ways to incorporate these therapies into your overall treatment plan. Always tell your health care provider about the herbs and supplements you are using or considering using.
Following these nutritional tips may help reduce symptoms:
- Avoid spicy, greasy, or fatty meals.
- Don’t overeat.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Dry crackers and carbonated sodas (such as ginger ale) help some people avoid nausea.
- People who tend to have motion sickness may want to eat small, frequent meals.
Herbs are generally a safe way to strengthen and tone the body’s systems. As with any therapy, you should work with your health care provider to get your problem diagnosed before starting any treatment. You may use herbs as dried extracts (capsules, powders, teas), glycerites (glycerine extracts), or tinctures (alcohol extracts). Unless otherwise indicated, you should make teas with 1 tsp. herb per cup of hot water. Steep covered 5 – 10 minutes for leaf or flowers, and 10 – 20 minutes for roots. Drink 2 – 4 cups per day. You may use tinctures alone or in combination as noted.
- Ginger (Zingiber officinale) standardized extract, 250 mg three times daily as needed, for symptoms of nausea. Ginger is a traditional remedy for nausea, and some studies show it may help with motion sickness. Not all studies find that it works, however. Ginger may increase the risk of bleeding, especially if you also take blood-thinners such warfarin (Coumadin) or aspirin.
- Peppermint (Mentha piperita) standardized extract, 1 enteric coated tablet two to three times daily as needed. You may also make a tea of the leaf. Peppermint can interact with some medications, so ask your doctor before taking it.
- Black horehound (Ballotta nigra), 1 – 2 ml as a tincture or 1 -2 tsp. of leaves steeped as a tea, taken three times per day. This is a traditional remedy for motion sickness, but no scientific studies have been done to test the benefits. Black horehound can interact with Parkinson’ s medications.