So, you are out on the boat and a swell comes up and you start to feel nauseous. You may vomit, but you feel pretty awful even if you don’t. You may also get dizzy, fatigued, break out in a cold sweat, feel anxious, or have balance issues. So much for a fun fishing trip!
Natural Medicine has some really useful tips for both preventing and dealing with seasickness, which is a form of motion sickness. Why does it occur? Because the brain is getting mixed messages from different parts of the body that register movement- your vestibular system. It can happen when the eyes are not seeing movement (such as when looking down or reading a book), but the inner ear is registering movement (such as on a rocky boat). It can also occur when the eyes are seeing lots of movement (such as with simulators and 3D movies) but the body is still.
There are various medications that are useful for nausea, but for many people, the side effects of drowsiness, constipation, blurred vision, or dry mouth/nose/throat are unpleasant. Perhaps try the natural and behavioural methods first, before resorting to the pharmaceutical stuff.
It is best to use a combination of treatments, such as adopting the behavioural methods that work for you as well as one or two of the natural medicines.
- First, get a good night’s sleep before the trip, and try not to get anxious if you often get sick. Getting anxious will make things worse.
- On the boat, make sure you breathe deeply, and get plenty of fresh air, and are not at the back of a stuffy closed in cabin. Sitting near the front or on top of the boat, where you can clearly see the horizon ahead of you, helps the brain register what is going on, and stops the mixed messages. This can make the world of difference, and is why people don’t usually get carsick in the front seat.
- On the other hand, for some people, sitting on the floor of the boat with their eyes closed can help.
- Drink plenty of water, and don’t get dehydrated….alcohol, tobacco and drugs are not helpful.
- Don’t read or use your phone or computer more than briefly while boating, if you are prone to sickness.
- Stay warm and comfortable, as much as possible.
- Diesel or petrol fumes can be very unhelpful- again, you are better toward the front of the boat and away from fumes.
- Eat light, fresh food and avoid greasy and spicy foods before and during your trip.
- For some people, listening to music helps.
- Ginger is the herb with the most evidence for being helpful for motion sickness or any type of nausea. There are many ways to take it- you can buy capsules, drink ginger tea, eat candied ginger, or use ginger essential oil. The capsules seem to have the most evidence in the research.
- The next most popular effective remedy is peppermint which works better than ginger for me personally, although the research favours ginger. Peppermint tea, sucking on a peppermint, peppermint flavoured gum, or using peppermint essential oil (my favourite) can all be helpful.
- Vitamin B6 and Vitamin C have some evidence behind them for nausea, so taking supplements for several days before travelling as well as on the day, may help some people.
- Licorice is an herb used for dyspepsia (indigestion) and related nausea, and may be helpful for some people.
- Others have found benefit from : chamomile tea, cinnamon tea, lavender, rosemary or fennel essential oils, even eating parsley
Finally, you can pick up one of those acupressure nausea wrist bands from the pharmacy, and see if that helps for you. Or if you forgot your band, rub on or hold the point on your inner wrist about an inch or so before your hand.You may need to try a few different things until you find what works for you to prevent nausea, and it may be something simple, like backing off on the booze and staying up the front of the boat, or you may need more support. Many people have helped their nausea and seasickness with some awareness of their triggers and natural remedies, so give it a go.
This article was written in conjunction with qualified naturopath Susan Deeley.