May means the start of road trip season, which, unfortunately for some children, also means motion sickness. Dr. Tanya Lee offers up some simple ways to prevent and treat travel-induced nausea.
By: Dr. Tanya Lee, N.D.
Motion sickness is a common problem experienced by adults and kids alike. It is often provoked by long rides on trains, buses, boats, but most commonly experienced by passengers during long car rides. Symptoms of motion sickness most commonly experienced include nausea and vomiting, dizziness, increased salivation, stomach problems, malaise and drowsiness.
The cause of motion sickness is still relatively unknown. The most universally accepted theory explains that motion sickness is induced by a disconnect between 2 systems in the body: one that detects motion (the vestibular system in the ears) and the visual system (eyes).
For example, while travelling in the backseat of a car with limited vision of the outside, the visual system believes that the person is not moving, while the vestibular system detects motion of the moving vehicle as a whole. This disconnect confuses the neurological system, stimulating a “protection response”, making the person nauseous and needing to vomit, similar to the response of ingesting a poison. Drivers are the least likely people to experience motion sickness due to their constant view of movement, while passengers generally tend to be engaged in a different activity, such as reading, that makes the visual system think they are stationary, heightening this motion sickness effect.
While this theory is the most widely accepted, we still have much to discover about the mechanisms behind motion sickness. It has been found that people who experience migraines are more likely to suffer from motion sickness, making the scientific world to wonder if the causes for both of these conditions stem from similar mechanisms.
Whatever the reasons for motion sickness are, there are no conventional treatments for this condition other than those which involve the use of pharmaceutical drugs. Considering children between the ages of 3-15 are most commonly those who experience motion sickness, many parents reject the idea of using strong medications to handle this condition.
There are a number of tips and alternative treatments that have been found helpful for controlling the symptoms of motion sickness:
(Note: For stronger dosage suggestions of vitamins and herbs, please consult with a qualified medical professional trained in nutritional, botanical and homeopathic medicine.)
1. Avoid eating heavy meals 2 hours before hitting the road
2. Sit near a window or the front seat of the car
3. Look through the front window to stimulate your visual system.
4. Ginger – the most widely known anti-nausea herb, ginger has been clinically studied for its role in treating motion sickness. Promising results have shown ginger to be more effective in reducing motion sickness in adults compared to placebo, and has been found to be as effective as pharmaceutical treatments widely used to treat motion sickness in a number of clinical trials. Ginger can be taken as a tea, tincture, as well as capsule forms.
5. Chamomile and Peppermint herbs – these herbs have been traditionally used as anti-nausea remedies, however there are presently no clinical trials that have confirmed their effectiveness. These herbs are generally considered as safe when used as teas. Taking these teas separately, or creating a tea consisting of equal portions of ginger root, chamomile, and peppermint, may serve as a great remedy to bring along on long trips, taking sips of the tea when feeling nauseous. For stronger dosages such as in tincture or capsule forms, please consult with a qualified medical professional
6. Vitamin B6: This vitamin is extensively used to treat symptoms of nausea, of all causes. It is possible that a deficiency of this vitamin can make one more sensitive to nausea-inducing situations, such as motion sickness. Please consult with a qualified medical professional for dosing, especially when providing nutrients to children.
7. Homeopathic Medicine: Homeopathic medicines are the most commonly used alternative remedies to help with motion sickness, and are exceptional in treating ailments affecting children. Each remedy is chosen specific to the individual; therefore not all people with motion sickness will receive the same remedy. You can usually find generalized homeopathic complexes targeting motion sickness at local health stores, but the effectiveness of these may vary from person to person. It is encouraged to have a qualified health professional review your case and help you choose a remedy that is most suited for your symptoms.
8. Acupressure – the general “anti-nausea” point, called Pc6, is located on the inside surface of the forearm, approximately 2 inches above the wrist crease. Gently massaging this point on both arms during a nausea spell can decrease the severity of the nausea. You can also use acupressure wrist bands (seabands) worn on the forearm to continuously stimulate the Pc6 point for long car rides – these can be found at health food stores, online or from your acupuncture provider.