Take a Vacation from Motion Sickness

by Carole Jackson Bottom Line Health


Standing in the summer sun on a gently rocking boat…riding in a car that’s snaking down a winding country road—these should be pleasurable parts of your vacation. They certainly shouldn’t make you feel sick!

But for many people who experience motion sickness, riding in just about any kind of vehicle—planes and trains, too—can ruin the entire trip, making them queasy, dizzy, anxious and/or cranky.

There are several popular drugs for motion sickness, but they all (of course) have side effects. Dramamine (dimenhydrinate), for example, often causes drowsiness.

Curious about alternative natural treatments that might relieve motion sickness, I contacted two experts in the field, and I am going to share their tips with you today.


The first expert I called was Keith Zeitlin, ND, director of the 5-Elements Naturopathic Health Center in Wallingford, Connecticut. He told me that a couple of spices that might already be in your kitchen are great for preventing motion sickness…

  • Ginger. A few minutes before traveling, do one of the following three things. Chew on a piece of raw gingerroot for three minutes and then spit it out…munch on one piece of candy called a Ginger Chew, which is made by The Ginger People and is available at many supermarkets and online…or take one gingerroot capsule. These capsules are available at health-food stores and online. (It’s important to check with your doctor before taking any supplement, because supplements may cause side effects and/or may interact negatively with drugs you’re taking.) Repeat any of these measures if motion sickness occurs while traveling.
  • Cinnamon. If ginger doesn’t work, a few minutes before you travel, take a few sniffs of cinnamon essential oil (aura cacia) which is available at health-food stores and online. If you get motion sickness while traveling, sniff the cinnamon oil a few times again. But be careful not to sniff the oil too deeply, because it’s quite strong!


The second expert I contacted was Lixing Lao, PhD, professor of family and community medicine at University of Maryland School of Medicine in Baltimore.

Pressing a certain part of the arm called the P6 Point, Dr. Lao said, often can relieve motion sickness. This particular spot is on the inner forearm about 1.5 inches (or two thumb widths) up the arm from the center of the wrist.

How to do it: About three hours before your trip and again a few minutes before you depart, apply pressure to the P6 Point, on one wrist—it doesn’t matter which one. You can do it yourself or have someone else apply the pressure. To do it yourself: With one hand, grasp your other arm and turn it palm up. Put your thumb on the P6 Point and put the rest of your fingers on the outside of your forearm. Apply sustained pressure with your thumb for about three minutes. The pressure should be firm—just below the level of pain. If you start to feel sick while traveling, apply pressure again.

Several companies make devices called motion sickness bands (such as the brand called Sea Bands) that cost about $7 to $15 at drugstores and online. They’re wrist straps that contain buttons, and they’re tight and made with elastic. After you put them on properly (carefully following the instructions and placing the button over the P6 point), the button then continuously presses into the P6 point. They’re convenient, because you don’t have to press with your thumb, and you can wear one on each wrist simultaneously for as long as needed, so you might find that using the wristbands provides more relief than the trying this trick manually.

Sources: Keith Zeitlin, ND, medical director of the 5 Elements Naturopathic Health Center in Wallingford, Connecticut.

Lixiand Lao, PhD, professor, family and community medicine, University of Maryland School of Medicine, and senior researcher with The Center for Integrative Medicine, Kernan Hospital, both in Baltimore.