How to relief and stop Motion Sickness with Acupressure, Wristbands & Bracelets

Acupressure is an ancient form of healing that uses finger and hand pressure to stimulate key points on the body. Several of these acupressure points can be effective for preventing and relieving motion sickness, however by far the best known - and easiest to locate and use - are the P6 points (also called the Nei Kuan points), which are located on the inner wrist.

Motion sickness wristbands and bracelets use this acupressure principle - the small stud on the bracelet applies constant pressure to the P6 point on your wrist.

NB: Acupressure is of course similar to acupuncture, but whereas acupuncture uses fine needles to stimulate the pressure points, acupressure relies on the pressure exerted by your (or your therapist's) fingers, or a device such as a wristband or bracelet.


Using finger pressure to prevent and relieve motion sickness

The Pericardium 6 (P6) or Nei Kuan points are fairly easy to locate - they are on your inner wrists, approximately the width of three fingers below the wrist joint.

To locate P6 exactly, first hold your hand palm up and note the position of the upper wrist crease. Then place the three middle fingers of your other hand onto your wrist, with the top of the upper finger just on the wrist crease. The P6 point will be beneath your index finger, between the two central tendons that run from your wrist down your forearm (clench your fist to see the tendons more clearly). A slight sensitivity or tingling should tell you that you have the right spot. Repeat this process on your other wrist.


How to find the location of P6 Nei Kuan pressure points for acupuncture/acupressure and wristbandsHow to find the location of P6 Nei Kuan pressure points for acupuncture/acupressure and wristbands

Once you have found the P6 points, apply firm downward pressure with your thumb or finger tips for around 30 seconds at a time. Note that at no time should this pressure feel painful! Tapping the P6 point can also be very effective, using a pen or similar object.

The P6 points are not the only points on the body that can be used to prevent and relieve nausea. This article has some helpful pointers, and once you're feeling confident about your acupressure technique you might like to try following these instructions for stimulating eight acupressure points for relief of motion sickness.


Motion sickness wristbands & bracelets

There is quite a wide variety of bands and bracelets available for preventing motion sickness, however they all function along the same lines - using acupressure (or electro acupuncture, see below) to stimulate the P6 point on the inner wrist.

Motion sickness wristbands and bracelets are sold in packs of two and should always be used together, one on each wrist. All acupressure bands are drug-free and non-medicated. They are therefore completely free of side effect and can be used alongside motion sickness remedies, treatments and medications.

Experiences of using these bands and bracelets vary hugely. I have heard doctors speak of them as having value only as placebos, and it is true that many people find them completely ineffective (although I do suspect that many of these people are wearing them wrongly - see below for the correct placement). Plenty of people, however, find motion sickness bands and bracelets to be extremely helpful and very effective, particularly on shorter trips, but also in many cases on long journeys and on cruise ships.

So, will motion sickness bands and bracelets work for you? The only way to find out is to try them! In addition to being non-medicated and drug-free, they are reusable, widely available and generally inexpensive. So even if you're skeptical, they are well worth trying out.


Motion sickness wristbands & bracelets - what's available?


Sea Bands

Probably the best known and most widely available brand is Sea Bands. They have been the subject of numerous tests and several clinical trials and are commonly used on cruise ships (although as I've noted already, they are very often worn incorrectly! See below for details about the correct placement). Sea Bands are knitted elasticated wristbands that incorporate a small plastic stud. They come in adult and child sizes (NB: adults with small wrists are advised to size down to the children's bands - they need to be snug-fitting and will not work if they are loose around your wrist). Sea Bands are of course reusable, and can be machine washed. The downside is that the knitted fabric tends to snag, and the adult ones at least look a little goofy. If you're posing for photos, remember to remove them!


Psi Bands

At a slightly higher price point are Psi Bands. These plastic (latex free) bands look more like a fashion bracelet - they come in a range of five colors and patterns and have the advantage of not snagging or getting soggy when wet. Psi Bands are adjustable (with a buckle, like a watch strap), so those with larger or smaller than average wrists have a better chance of getting a good snug fit - although with a minimum circumference of 5 1/4 inches, they will be too big for most children.


Acustraps

Another brand is Acustraps - a woven nylon band incorporating a plastic bubble. Acustraps are available in natural or navy, and are fully adjustable with a D-ring and Velcro fastening.


BioBands

BioBands are again a very similar product, but with the difference that, according to the manufacturer, you should wear only one band for optimum results.


SCAT Acupressure Motion-Aid

The SCAT Acupressure Motion-Aid is made by Lhasa OMS, an established acupuncture supplies company. The SCAT boasts the added benefit that the pressure stud is a magnet - this is apparently particularly effective in stimulating the P6 point.


Electronic wristbands


Lifemax i-Trans Wristband

Officially called the Lifemax i-Trans Acupressure Anti-Travel Sickness Aid Wristband (phew... what a name!), this is a rather extraordinary space age device. It claims to prevent motion sickness by using 'double frequency acupressure technology with western medical knowledge' - as with the Relief Band, I assume this is a kind of electro-acupuncture, stimulating the P6 point. The i-Trans requires a battery and should be used with conductivity gel. I don't know anyone who has tested it out. If you have done, please contact me!


Do-it-yourself

Finally, if you prefer the DIY approach, try placing a small stone or button under the strap of your wrist watch. Make sure that it is positioned correctly (see above under Using finger pressure to prevent and relieve motion sickness). You could also customize a sweat band by attaching a rounded button. Either of these approaches should work just as well as the commercial bands and bracelets.


Important - correct placement of motion sickness wristbands and bracelets

Motion sickness bands and bracelets can only work if they are placed correctly on your wrists so that the stud is pressing onto the P6 point. I have so often seen people wearing them incorrectly, and I'm sure this is why so many people find that they don't work! You cannot simply pull the bands onto your wrists and expect them to prevent motion sickness. I can't stress enough that if the pressure is not exerted on exactly the right spot then the band or bracelet will not work!

However, locating the P6 points on your wrists, and placing the bands correctly, is not difficult - and it's well worth spending a few moments to get it right. See above (Using finger pressure to prevent and relieve motion sickness) for instructions. The stud must be positioned facing downwards over the P6 point. If you feel the bands are not working for you then try adjusting them slightly, to see if this gives relief.

As already noted, with the exception of BioBands, you should use both bands or bracelets at the same time - one on each wrist. It is always better to put the bands on before you start to feel sick, however in many cases they will also help to relieve symptoms once you are feeling sick. If you do start to feel queasy while wearing the bands, then gently press down on the stud to increase the pressure.


Read on about other ways of preventing Motion Sickness:

Comments

Nikki on January 22nd 2013:
I have been wearing a battery operated "shocking" device for 15 yrs now. I use it whenever I ride as a passenger in a car or on a boat or plane. I have severe motion sickness and it works wonderfully. It is manufactured by Sharper Image and is called the Relief Band. You place it in the P6 position. It has a dial from 1 to 5, five giving the most shock. Nothing has worked for me before this. This works spectacularly for me! However, I cannot read or watch movies while in motion but I can do things without illness now.

I also have learned over a period of 30 yrs while in a car to concentrate on one focus point - headrest from backseat, windshield wiper in front seat etc... and do not shift your eyes. This proves to work if one does not have any other measures to use. In order for the relief band to be effective, you have to feel the tingling of the shock traveling up the middle of your hand, your two middle fingers. Then you know it is placed right and definitely works - for me.

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