Motion Sickness

Anatomy of Motion Sickness

Your brain is constantly gathering and analyzing data in terms of your body’s current orientation, movement, balance (i.e. equilibrium), and visual inputs. For example when you walk, your eyes, inner ear, and limbs all function in a coordinated fashion thanks to various inputs to your brain. Your brain recognizes everything it needs to in order to keep you upright and moving in the direction that you intend. Thankfully, all of this input and response in terms of spatial orientation is done at a subconscious level. Unfortunately, the cause of motion sickness occurs when there is a disconnect between what your eyes are seeing (visual receptors), what your balance and equilibrium is telling you (vestibular system), and what your body’s orientation (proprioceptors) is.

Your Vestibular System (Inner Ear)

Your inner ear (medically known as your vestibular system), deals with your body’s balance and position and is, most likely, the most important factor when it comes to experiencing motion sickness. The vestibular system is an amazingly complex combination of nerves and fluid filled channels within your inner ear. Your vestibular system helps to determine:

  • Whether you are moving forward and backward (such as walking).
  • Whether you are accelerating or decelerating (such as when you are in a car when someone stomps the gas or slams on the brakes).
  • Whether you are turning from one side to the other (such as when an airplane banks from one side to the other).
  • Whether you are moving upwards or downwards (such as climbing or descending stairs).
  • Whether you feel the effects of gravity or not (which you experience while riding in an elevator).

Your inner ear also helps to control your sense of balance (i.e. Equilibrium) and motion. It sends information to your brain that tells the other parts of your body whether they should compensate for the movements that you are experiencing in order to maintain a proper equilibrium.

Visual Receptors (Eyes)

The second component when it comes to determining where your body is at and whether it is experiencing motion are your eyes. The eyes help your brain determine where your body is spatially located in relation to the objects around it. Your eyes can also tell your brain:

  • Whether you are lying down or standing up (typically the objects around you will tend to remain motionless).
  • Whether your body is oriented right side up or upside down (such as when you are on a corkscrewing roller coaster).
  • Whether your body is leaning from one side or to the other (such as when you are standing perpendicular to the slope of a hill).

Whether you are moving forward or backward (such as when you look out the window of a train and the stationary objects around you appear to be moving by).

Proprioceptors (Proprioception)

The third component which helps your body determine whether it is at rest or in motion are your proprioceptors. Proprioceptors is just a fancy way of describing the various sensors that are located in your skin, joints, and muscles that tell your brain how your limbs and body are positioned. Your brain constantly takes in all the information that it receives from your eyes and from your vestibular system. In order to maintain proper balance and to initiate movement, your brain then takes all the data that it receives and unconsciously tells you joints, muscles, tendons, and ligaments to move accordingly. In addition, proprioceptors determine how our body’s are oriented based upon what parts of our body’s are touching the ground at the time.

Motion Sickness

Motion Sickness Bands

band

Try Anti-Motion Sickness Bands to Relieve your Motion Sickness Woes

Many motion sickness medications used to treat motion sickness have side effects such as dizziness, blurred vision, and dry

mouth. Why should relatively healthy individuals subject themselves to these side effects? An alternative treatment such as acupressure may help in these situations.

Using the same technique of acupuncture but without the needles, the ancient Chinese art of acupressure relies on the pressing of certain spots on the body to relieve your medical ailments. Most motion sickness bands out on the market contain a pea sized nodule that presses against an acupressure spot located roughly three finger widths away from your wris

t on your inner arm. In Chinese medicine this spot is called the “Nei Guan”. Rubbing or pressure against this spot is used to treat a variety of symptoms including the relief of vomiting, nausea, chest pains, pre-menstrual pains, and even insomnia.

Below we list out a few of the more popular anti motion sickness bands currently out on the market.

If you are looking for a relatively inexpensive way to treat your motion sickness woes without those nasty side effects from medication, go out and get yourself an anti-motion sickness band.

Motion Sickness

Remedies for Motion Sickness

Try Anti-Motion Sickness Bands to Relieve your Motion Sickness Woes

Many motion sickness medications used to treat motion sickness have side effects such as dizziness, blurred vision, and dry mouth. Why should relatively healthy individuals subject themselves to these side effects? An alternative treatment such as acupressure may help in these situations.

Using the same technique of acupuncture but without the needles, the ancient Chinese art of acupressure relies on the pressing of certain spots on the body to relieve your medical ailments. Most motion sickness bands out on the market contain a pea sized nodule that presses against an acupressure spot located roughly three finger widths away from your wrist on your inner arm. In Chinese medicine this spot is called the “Nei Guan”. Rubbing or pressure against this spot is used to treat a variety of symptoms including the relief of vomiting, nausea, chest pains, pre-menstrual pains, and even insomnia.

Below we list out a few of the more popular anti motion sickness bands currently out on the market.

If you are looking for a relatively inexpensive way to treat your motion sickness woes without those nasty side effects from medication, go out and get yourself an anti-motion sickness band.

Motion Sickness

Causes of Motion Sickness

Your eyes DO NOT feel motion but your inner ear DOES

Sometimes when you travel, the motion that your inner ear feels does not match with what your eyes are seeing and may be one of the causes of motion sickness. Typically, this form of motion sickness occurs when you are enclosed in either a cabin (such as on a ship) or else you are enclosed in a passenger compartment (such as on an airplane or a train). In these instances, your vestibular system may actually feel motion (i.e. Side to side or up or down) but you may not actually be able to see the movement either because the windows are closed on an airplane or you are inside a ship without any port holes. When we are inside a cabin or a passenger compartment in such situations, your eyes are telling you that you are in a stationary space. However, your vestibular system is trying to tell your brain that you are moving. The disconnect between the two senses may be the cause of your motion sickness.

Your eyes DO feel motion but your inner ear DOES NOT

Another cause of motion sickness may be when your eyes sense motion but your inner ear does not. Typically, this cause of motion sickness occurs when you are watching a movie (typically on large screen theaters such as IMAX or OMNI MAX), sitting in a simulator (including virtual reality rides), or playing a video game. Essentially, your eyes are telling your brain that your body is moving based solely upon the visual information it is receiving. Medical professionals like to call this form of motion sickness, Visually Induced Motion Sickness or VIMS for short.

Your body is experiencing complex movements

The third cause of motion sickness may occur when your body is moving in multiple directions at the same time. Examples include:

  • When you are an airplane that is turning and bouncing up and down due to turbulence.
  • When you are riding in a car that is not only turning around a curve but also descending a hill at the same time.
  • When you are traveling on a boat that is moving slowly forward but also rocking up and down.

In these sorts of situations, your inner ear is trying to balance your body in relation to the multiple motions that it is experiencing. When the brain cannot coordinate all of this disparate information correctly, then motion sickness may result. Surprisingly, complex movements and your vestibular system may be more responsible for motion sickness than a discrepancy between what your eyes are seeing and what your body is feeling. Scientists hypothesize that this is primarily the case because blind people may also develop motion sickness.

Now that we understand some of the major causes of motion sickness, we can now turn our attention towards treatments and remedies to help alleviate your symptoms.

Motion Sickness

Not Ginger as a Motion Sickness Remedy, Again?

For hundreds of years, ginger (a.k.a. Zingiber officinale for those of you that want to get fancy) has been used to treat all sorts of medical problems from morning sickness to heartburn.  It can be found in gingersnaps, gingerbread, and even hiding next to the wasabi paste at your favorite sushi restaurant.  But did you know that ginger can also serve as an anti-motion sickness herbal remedy?[1][2]

Why Ginger May be so Effective – One Theory
There are numerous theories that have been proposed as to why ginger may be an effective sea sickness treatment.  One interesting theory goes something like this:

  • Vasopressin is a hormone and is released by your central nervous system (translation:  your brain) during motion sickness.
  • Vasopressin then causes your gastric system (translation: your guts) to go into gastric dysrhythmias (translation: things start moving in a rhythm that will soon make you feel nauseous).  What’s interesting here is that these dysrhythmias start 1 to 2 minutes before you even experience nausea.
  • What’s also fascinating is that the stronger your gastric dysrhythmias are the worse your nausea will be.
  • What scientists propose is that ginger may interfere with vasopressin release and thus help to limit gastric dysrhythmias which can cause nausea and vomiting (I bet that sentence makes perfect sense now, right?).[3]
  • You might be asking, “How can scientists propose that vasopressin has anything to do with causing nausea”?  Great question.  Thankfully for us, test subjects volunteered to have vasopressin injected into them.  Shortly after that, gastric dysrhythmias occurred accompanied by nausea.

Ginger Forms and Dosage:

  • Fresh — Cut a small piece (2 to 4 grams) of fresh peeled ginger root and chew on it preferably 30 minutes before traveling or up to three times per day while traveling.  If you have any ginger root leftover, you can store it in your freezer for later use.
  • Pickled — For those of you that love your sushi, try pickled ginger (a.k.a. Gari in Japanese).  It should provide you with the same effect at the same dosage (2 to 4 grams up to three times per day).
  • Teas — Like all teas, the longer you leave the herb to steep in boiling water the stronger your tea will be.  Since ginger has such a strong taste, a little bit can go you a long way.  Our advice, start with a small piece of whole ginger (1/4 of an inch or roughly 6mm) per cup of boiling water and work your way up from there.  If you are looking for an even stronger taste, you can grate 2 teaspoons worth of ginger and add it to a cup of boiling water.
  • Capsules — Ginger capsules vary in potency and dosage so follow the directions that are provided.
  • Powdered — You can take a half teaspoon of powered ginger, stir it into a glass of water, and drink it thirty minutes before you plan on traveling.  NOTE:  This method might not be as effective as fresh ginger.
  • Tablets — Try chewable ginger tablets one hour before you travel and every three hours while traveling.
  • Candied — If you have a sweet tooth and the texture of raw ginger just isn’t your thing, you can try candied ginger (a.k.a. crystallized ginger).  Place a small piece on your tongue and let it dissolve in your mouth.
  • Oils & Juice In some speciality stores, you may be able to find both ginger oil and ginger juice that you can also try.  Regardless, with both ginger oil and ginger juice start with a small dosage (i.e. a teaspoons worth) and work your way upwards if symptoms do not improve.


Side Effects of Ginger:

The FDA classifies ginger as “generally recognized as safe” while Germany’s Commission E has classified ginger as a nonprescription remedy for motion sickness.[4][5]

  • Like any other herbal treatment out there, you should be on the lookout for any allergic reactions that you might have when taking ginger.
  • Ginger may interfere with your blood’s ability to clot properly (translation: you may experience prolonged bleeding after suffering from a wound).  Consult your doctor first if you are taking blood thinning drugs such as aspirin and Wafarin (a.k.a. Coumadin) OR if you will be undergoing any surgery. [6]
  • If you are pregnant and wish to take ginger to help prevent morning sickness, you should also consult your doctor first.
  • If you are diabetic, ginger may also lower your blood sugar levels [7][8]

Conclusion:
Although the effects of ginger on humans haven’t been studied extensively, it does appear that ginger may help to reduce both nausea and vomiting which is great for people that suffer from motion sickness.[9]

While we let the scientists continue to debate exactly how ginger can provide such great benefits, why don’t go and see for yourself if ginger can help you.  Either way, let us know by commenting in the box below this post.

References:
[1]  Ernst, E., Pittler, M. H.  “Efficacy of Ginger for Nausea and Vomiting: A Systematic Review of Randomized Clinical Trials”.  British Journal of Anaesthesia.  Issue 84(3) (2000) : 367-71.  Print.
[2]  Grontved A., Brask T., et al.  “Ginger Root Against Seasickness.  A Controlled Trial on the Open Sea”.  Acta Otolaryngol (Stockh). Issue 105 (1988) : 45-49.  Print.
[3]  Hasler, William, Owyang, Chung.  “VI. Pathogenesis and therapeutic approaches to human gastric dysrhythmias”.  American Journal of Physiology.  Volume 283(1) (2002) : 8-15.  Print.
[4]  Food and Drug Administration (FDA).  Substances Generally Recognized as Safe.  Web. September 30, 2011.
[5]  Blumenthal, M, Busse W.R., et al.  “German Commission E by the German Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices”. German Commission E. Monographs.  (1998).  American Botanical Council.  Print.
[6]  Ghayur, M., Gilani, A.  “Ginger Lowers Blood Pressure Through Blockage of Voltage-Dependent Calcium Channels”.  Journal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology. Volume 45(1) (2005) : 74-80.  Print.
[7]  Oboh, G., Kinyemi, A.J., et al.  “Inhibitory effects of aqueous extract of two varieties of ginger on some key enzymes linked to type-2 diabetes in vitro”.  Journal of Food and Nutrition Research.  Volume 49(1) (2010) : 14-20.  Print.
[8]  Gonlachanvit, S., Chen, Y., et al.  “Ginger Reduces Hyperglycemia-Evoked Gastric Dysrhythmias in Healthy Humans:  Possible Role of Endogenous Prostaglandins”.   American Society for Pharmacology and Experimental Therapeutics (2003).
[9]  Hickok, J., Roscoe, A., et al.  “A Phase II/III Randomized, Placebo-Controlled, Double-Blind Clinical Trial of Ginger (Zingiber officinale) for Nausea Caused by Chemotherapy for Cancer: A Currently Accruing URCC CCOP Cancer Control Study”.  Supportive Cancer Therapy.  Volume 4, number 4 (2007).  Print.