Motion sickness: A natural remedy

No, I haven’t switched to writing a CAM blog. I’ve covered natural remedies before, simply because that may be all you have at hand in the back country. This isn’t one of those situations. I don’t expect you to pull up to the marina and get a bottle of Nature’s Way ginger capsules. I wouldn’t be surprised if some carry it in some form, though.

This is another one of those studies I’m glad I wasn’t a test subject. Circular vection can make you go from 0 to “toenail puking” in a hurry, and if you happened to get nauseated, they brought you back 3 days later to see if the hypothesized treatment would be effective. Of the 13 who went through that, 4 more continued the study to see if ginger would help with IV vasopression induced nausea.

The good news is that ginger, in either 1000mg or 2000mg dosages, decreases maximum nausea “feeling”, as well as decreased objective measurable variables like tachygastria and plasma vasopressin levels. Sadly, it doesn’t work when you infuse vasopressin, but most of us aren’t in danger of that happening on a regular basis.

Thus, ginger is effective at reducing motion sickness symptoms of nausea and vomiting. In the discussion, they note that it does not reduce nystagmus. Ginger appears to only work peripherally, and thus doesn’t cause the sedation common with centrally acting agents. So you have a treatment that works, and has fewer side effects than typical agents? Sounds like a great first-line drug to me.

Lien HC, Sun WM, Chen YH, Kim H, Hasler W, Owyang C. Effects of ginger on motion sickness and gastric slow-wave dysrhythmias induced by circular vection. Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol. 2003 Mar;284(3):G481-9. [PMID 12576305]

Of note, a recent review article found more papers in favor of ginger (4) for motion sickness than against it (1). Not a subject widely studied by any measure.

Palatty PL, Haniadka R, Valder B, Arora R, Baliga MS. Ginger in the prevention of nausea and vomiting: a review. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2013;53(7):659-69. [PMID 23638927]

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EBM Gone Wild

Wilderness Medicine

Emergency physician with interests in wilderness and prehospital medicine. Medical Director of the Texas State Aquarium, Padre Island National Seashore, Robstown EMS, and Code 3 ER | EBM gone Wild | @EBMGoneWild |

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