Seasickness, Prevention and Cures

How to prevent and treat motion- or seasickness.

Seasickness

Anyone who’s ever been sick to their stomach on a boat or plane knows the discomfort of motion- or seasickness.

And those who have experienced motion or seasickness can identify with the old saying: when you first get motion sickness, you fear you’re going to die. And then, as it continues, you fear that you won’t die!

But what exactly is motion sickness?

Motion sickness is a generic term for the discomfort and associated vomiting induced by various motion conditions aboard ships, aircraft, vehicles or zero-gravity environments.

Seasickness caused by yacht motion can pose a severe problem for sailors. The affected person feels miserable and becomes incapacitated, therefore a liability for others on a shorthanded boat. Repeated vomiting may also lead to dehydration.


About ninety per cent of people who travel on sea or in the air will experience seasickness or motion sickness. It is therefore essential to know how to prevent seasickness.

Despite decades of research, scientists and even NASA are still in the dark about the causes of motion sickness.

Current wisdom believes that sensory conflict is to blame. It occurs when your brain receives conflicting information from your body, eyes, and inner ear (which tells your brain how your head is moving). For example, if you’re on a yacht, your inner ear may detect a rolling motion that your eyes can’t see. Simply put, a sensory mismatch causes it, and the brain gets confused by too many unexpected inputs. and

Symptoms of motion sickness

Incessant yawning may be the first sign of motion sickness. Nausea and vomiting are common symptoms of motion sickness, but they may also cause cold sweats, headaches, and pain.

Who’s at Risk?

References to seasickness date as far back as Ancient Greece. According to research, nearly all of the occupants of life rafts will vomit in rough seas, and sixty per cent of student aircrew members will suffer from air sickness during their training.

Women are more sensitive to motion than men and are forty per cent more likely to experience seasickness. Evidence suggests that given the appropriate provocative conditions, almost all healthy individuals can develop seasickness. Indeed, it is estimated that as many as ninety per cent of seafarers have suffered at least once, if not several times, from seasickness.

Some people are a little more likely to get it than others:

Remedies for seasickness

Even with medical research studies and hundreds of years of experimentation, no single method or medication works for everyone.

But various methods do work for different people, so it’s mostly an issue of tackling the problem and determining what works best for you. It would be best to begin the remedy well in advance in most cases – before getting on the yacht.

Herewith a list of the latest technologies, medications and aids to stop and prevent seasickness:

Natural and Herbal remedies

Ginger
Ginger is a natural remedy for nausea and is suitable for mild motion sickness cases. It is available in “natural” anti-nausea supplements that can be purchased from any pharmacy. Note that the ginger must be natural in a drink or food, not artificial ginger flavouring. Consult your doctor before taking ginger if you are on anticoagulant medication (blood thinners) or suffer from a heart condition.

Motioneaze
This is a herbal remedy consisting of a blend of natural oils that is dabbed behind both ears. There are no side effects, and this remedy can be combined with any others. It’s also safe for children and pregnant women. Visit the Motioneaze website for more information.

Aromatherapy
Fill a fine mist sprayer with distilled water, lemon oil, cedarwood oil, dill oil, lavender oil, and a few drops of spearmint and spray it lightly on your face.

Anti Motion Sickness Glasses by XPAND

NASA has conducted extensive research on the causes and treatments for motion sickness. One tested treatment is to wear special LCD shutter glasses. XPAND’s Anti Motion Sickness Glasses are electronic sunglasses that can reduce motion sickness while travelling by aeroplane, boat or driving. With excellent UV protection, the sunglasses have an electro-optical system that fights motion sickness non-invasive. XPAND’s Anti Motion Sickness Glasses efficiently use shuttering lenses to reduce the severity of motion sickness. The electro-optical system is engaged when the motion sickness mode is enabled on the glasses. The electronic lenses start to strobe (both lenses become transparent and clear very fast) with a flash frequency of 4 Hz. The Anti Motion Sickness Glasses do not have any side effects.

Anti Motion Sickness Glasses by XPAND
Anti Motion Sickness Glasses by XPAND

MotionCure by Sidis Labs

MotionCure, developed by Sidis Labs, is a neck brace that looks like an aeroplane travel pillow. It alleviates motion sickness symptoms through both pulsation technology and magnetics. A series of pulses are transmitted to the brain through the median nerve at the back of the neck and the inner ear’s vestibular, which gives your brain a sense of motion, equilibrium and spatial orientation. Additionally, the MotionCure creates an opposing magnetic field that surrounds the neck and the base of the brain, where motion sickness-related signals are first intercepted. MotionCure is a ground-breaking new device that has successfully integrated NASA research and the latest scientific breakthroughs without any side effects. It is best used before the symptoms begin, but you can use it at the onset and feel better in minutes.

Seasickness - MotionCure by Sidis Labs
MotionCure by Sidis Labs

Boarding Ring Glasses

The glasses’ unique design enables your eye to receive the missing ‘movement’ information. The blue liquid inside the ringed frame follows the movement of your body. The brain receives the information it needs, and the sickness is avoided. This movement is recorded by your peripheral vision and does not impede central ‘voluntary’ vision. Put them on when you feel queasy (not before) and take them off when feeling better. Repeat as needed. You should not take any medicine at the same time. Boarding Ring Glasses are worn like regular glasses and can be used over ophthalmic and sunglasses. It is also available for children and has no side effects. Winner of the DAME design award in 2013, the most prestigious international design competition for new marine equipment and accessories.
Visit the Boarding Ring website or order from Amazon.

Seasickness - Boarding Ring Glasses
Boarding Ring Glasses

Reliefband

It is coming soon: the Reliefband Neurowave. Reliefband is a clinically proven wearable technology band for treating nausea and vomiting associated with motion sickness, morning sickness and VR Gaming. The technology is technically known as neuromodulation, which uses neural pathways in the body to block the waves of nausea coming from the stomach. Neuromodulation generates signals from the user’s central nervous system to the part of the brain responsible for the feeling of nausea. The Relief Band should be worn on the Nei-Kuan P6 point (see wrist bands) on your wrist, and press the button to activate the electric signals to a comfortable level for you.
Visit the Reliefband website or order from Amazon.

Seasickness - Reliefband
Reliefband

Wrist Bands

Anti-Seasickness wrist bands come in two varieties; acupressure and magnetic.  They work by applying pressure to a point on your wrist known as the Nei-Kuan (P6) acupressure point. From your wrist crease on the palm side of your arm, measure three finger widths or two thumb widths up your arm, between the two tendons – that is the pressure point.

seasickness wrist-bands

The stud on the wristband must be positioned facing downwards over the P6 point. If you feel the bands are not working for you, try adjusting them slightly to see if this gives relief. Except for BioBands, you should use both wrist bands simultaneously – one on each wrist.  If you start to feel queasy while wearing the bands, then gently press down on the stud to increase the pressure.

If you do not have a wrist band, use your thumb to press down on the pressure point and hold for a few minutes until the symptoms subside.

Although acupressure bands don’t cause any side effects, there’s little scientific evidence that they effectively treat motion sickness. There is no evidence magnetic devices marketed for motion sickness relief do any good. Some experienced seafarers say acupressure bands are the sailor’s equivalent of lucky heather or hare’s feet charms.

Typical Motion Sickness Bands
Typical Motion Sickness Bands

Ear Plugs

Using an airtight fit earplug in the non-dominant ear (left ear for a right-handed person, right ear for a left-handed person) is an easy and effective cure for motion sickness.  After inserting the earplug, symptoms should disappear in a few minutes.  Some reports say the ear that is used is not critical.

Seasickness Ear Plugs from Lapponia Ltd
Ear Plugs from Lapponia Ltd

The Puma Method

The Puma Method consists of habituation exercises that promise to eliminate all motion sickness and is entirely free of side effects. It has been developed by Dr Sam Puma, former NASA flight surgeon and USAF pilot and physician. Dr Puma’s method involves doing a series of head, neck and upper body exercises for approximately 15 minutes per day for two weeks. No special equipment or devices are required. Dr Puma claims that once you have completed the course of exercises, your motion sickness will be overcome for life. The program does need commitment and perseverance to complete, primarily as the exercises work by triggering mild symptoms of motion sickness.

The Puma Method video (not sure if this is only a part of the whole) is currently available on YouTube:

Nevasic

Nevasic (previously Travelwell) is a non-language audio program that should be listened to on headphones as soon as you experience the first hint of motion sickness. Nevasic claims to eliminate the symptoms of motion sickness by stabilising the balance receptors in the inner ear. This unique specialist audio programme contains specific tones, frequencies and pulses concealed by an over-layer of music that can relieve or dispel the symptoms of nausea and vomiting. Many of the frequencies and pulses desensitise the Vestibular system and border our recognisable audio spectrum but still profoundly affect the ear. Nevasic has no side effects. It seems to work very well for pregnant women with morning sickness but whether it will prove itself on rough seas remain to be seen.
Order from the Nevasic website.

Medications

Scopolamine Transdermal Patch (Hyoscine)

This anti-nausea patch is placed directly on the skin behind your ear, and it absorbs through your skin into your bloodstream. It looks like a bit of round Band-Aid behind your ear. It is available over-the-counter at your local pharmacy and is generally considered the most potent and effective anti-seasickness medication. It’s thought to work by blocking some nerve signals sent from the vestibular system. Because it is a slow-release patch, apply the patch at least four hours before travel. It has a long-lasting effect for up to three days. The great thing about the patch is that it continues working even after you start to vomit. Side effects may include drowsiness, blurred vision, disorientation, anxiety, hallucinations and psychosis. Prolonged use of the patch for weeks can lead to hallucinations. Wash your hands thoroughly after applying, as the medication can temporarily blur your vision if it gets in your eyes. Test this product at home first before travelling to find if the product will affect you negatively.  Scopolamine should also be used with caution in children, the elderly, and if you have certain conditions such as epilepsy or a history of heart, kidney or liver problems.

Dramamine (Dimenhydrinate or Gravol)

Dramamine prevents nausea, vomiting, and dizziness caused by any motion sickness. It will work 99 per cent better when taken before you might experience motion sickness. Dramamine is an antihistamine used to treat symptoms of allergies and can also help control nausea and vomiting. Dramamine blocks the effects of a neurotransmitter on the inner ear, which helps maintain your sense of balance and position. Side effects may include drowsiness.

Meclizine Hydrochloride

Meclizine HCL is marginally more potent than the regular Dramamine. Please consult your doctor as this is one of the best options for motion sickness patients.

Bonine

Bonine is essentially an antihistamine. It may cause drowsiness. Take Bonine the night before your trip and another dose in the morning before you travel.

Stugeron (Cinnarizine)

Some dosages, such as 15mg and 75mg tablets, may not be available everywhere but are readily available in many countries, including the UK or www.CanadaDrugsOnline.com.
Stugeron is claimed by many sailors to be more effective than Dramamine or Bonine and reportedly works even after you have started feeling dizzy.

Rizatriptan

People with a history of suffering from migraines are more susceptible to motion sickness. Medical studies have shown that patients prone to migraines responded well to Rizatriptan. Experts suspect that the same part of the brainstem plays a role in both conditions. The medication may fend off nausea by regulating serotonin, linked to migraine pain. Take the recommended dose about two hours before travel. Side effects can include a dry mouth and drowsiness.

Compazine (Prochlorperazine)

Dosages of 5, 10 or 25mg suppositories (not oral) have proven to be the most effective prescription anti-nausea and anti-anxiety medication that (importantly) does not cause drowsiness. Anxiety can cause nausea, and since Compazine treats both, it is a vital drug to carry aboard. Suppositories are far more effective than tablets once vomiting has started.

How to prevent seasickness

Yacht Stabilisers

Most yachts now have stabilisers while cruising and at anchor, which means the yacht won’t rock. If you are prone to seasickness, please ask your Charter Broker to find you a charter yacht with stabilisers.

Yacht stabilisers are fins or rotors mounted beneath the waterline and emerging laterally from the hull to reduce a yacht’s roll due to wind or waves. A gyroscopic control system controls active fins. When the gyroscope senses the ship’s roll, it changes the fins’ angle to exert force to counteract the roll.

This technology will make cruising and time at anchor more enjoyable, especially those prone to seasickness.

The following types of stabilisers are available:

Gyroscopic (gyro) stabilisers (Suitable for high-speed yachts.)
Mounted low in a boat’s hull, gyroscopes will significantly reduce a boat’s roll. Modern control–movement gyros are spun up inside a vacuum to eliminate air resistance and offer lower power requirements.

Fixed fin stabilisers
Fixed-fins are commonly used where space within the hull is limited.

Retractable fin stabilisers
Fins can be retracted inside the hull to combat some of the disadvantages of a fixed fin. The control of the fin movement is automatic and is usually derived from gyroscopic sensing gears.

The RotorSwing Magnus was invented for roll damping while cruising at low throttle and a Zerospeed option at anchor. It consists of rapidly rotating Magnus effect cylinders that generate an enormous upward or downward damping force.

Zero-speed stabilisers (used for yachts at anchor)
To reduce roll at anchor, yachts would require a form of zero-speed stabilisation. Some sound stabilisation systems may include a fin stabilisation system or a gyro system.

These stabilisers are a great way to reduce the rolling and pitching on a yacht and, therefore, reduce seasickness. Therefore ask your yacht charter broker to get you a yacht with stabilisers to ensure a more comfortable sail.

Videos demonstrating stabilisers: