Motion Sickness Treatments

If you are a chronic sufferer of motion sickness and have tried remedies, bands and bracelets with limited success, then a course of acupuncture or one of the commercially available anti-motion sickness exercise or hypnosis programs may be worth trying.

Of course, these motion sickness treatments cost more than a herbal remedy or medication, but for those of you with an open mind and the time and willpower to follow through, the benefits could be well worth it.


Acupuncture

Acupuncture doesn't seem to be widely used as a treatment for motion sickness, which is strange as naturally the same meridian points that respond to acupressure can be stimulated far more effectively by acupuncture. Perhaps it is the idea of the acupuncture 'needles' that puts people off? But as someone who has had acupuncture several times (although, I admit, not as a motion sickness treatment), I can truly assure you that it is not at all scary - the so-called needles are as thin as hairs and there's no pain involved at all! The National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM) provides useful background information on acupuncture.

Friends who have tried acupuncture as protection against their motion sickness report that it works wonders. Two of them had previously tried motion bands and bracelets with limited success, and one with no success at all, but all found acupuncture prevented the nausea and enabled sickness-free travel. A friend who takes annual cruises has suffered no sea sickness at all since she started having an acupuncture treatment prior to each trip.

The downside of course - other than the cost involved - is that you need to be organized and book at least one session prior to your trip. If you're planning a cruise, however, you may be in luck as cruise ships increasingly offer acupuncture as part of their menu of spa treatments. Celebrity Cruises now offers 'Acupuncture at Sea' in dedicated onboard acupuncture clinics (see also my notes on cruising).

To locate a qualified and registered acupuncturist in the USA contact the National Certification Commission for Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (NCCAOM) or the American Association of Acupuncture and Oriental Medicine (AAAOM).

In the UK, contact the British Acupuncture Council.


Habituation Exercises - 'Puma Method'

The Puma Method is a revolutionary program that promises to totally eliminate pretty much all forms of motion sickness. It has been developed by Dr. Sam Puma, former NASA flight surgeon and USAF pilot and physician. The website speaks for itself, and it is well worth a look.

Dr Puma's method works on the principle of habituation - the process of developing tolerance to something the more you are exposed to it. It involves doing a series of head, neck and upper body exercises for approximately 15 minutes per day for around two weeks. No special equipment or devices are required. Dr Puma claims that your tolerance to motion sickness will start to improve from the first time you do the exercises, and that once you have completed the course of exercises your motion sickness will be overcome for life (although you may need to 'top up' your tolerance from time to time by repeating the exercises for a day or two).

The Puma program is available as a video download or on DVD, and the cost (at the time of writing it is $39.95 for the download and $49.95 for the DVD) seems reasonable. The program does, however, need commitment and perseverance to complete, especially as the exercises work by triggering symptoms of motion sickness (the Puma Method website assures us that these symptoms are 'mild'). But surely the possibility of a cure is worth a couple of weeks of feeling queasy for 15 minutes a day?

NB: other than mild symptoms of motion sickness while doing the exercises, the Puma Method is apparently completely free of side-effects.

Despite this appearing to be a well established program, I have found it quite hard to find independent reviews of the Puma Method. Many thanks to Andy for sending in this detailed review.

Have you had success (or otherwise) with the Puma Method? Reviews and accounts of your experiences with the Puma Method are very welcome - you can contact me here!


The Nevasic Program

Nevasic is a commercially available program that claims to "eliminate the symptoms of motion sickness" by stabilizing the balance receptors in the inner ear. It is also available under the brand name 'TravelWell'.

Nevasic is a non-language audio program which should be listened to on headphones as soon as you experience the first hint of motion sickness. The 'precisely engineered stabilising audio pulses and frequencies' are presented in 'a jacket of music' to make the program easier and more pleasant to listen to. According to the testimonials on the Nevasic website the program seems to work even on quite young children. Nevasic is drug free, and the website states that Nevasic is clinically tested and 'NHS researched' (the NHS is the UK National Health Service). The website stresses that Nevasic is not based on relaxation or hypnosis, but is 'a highly technical innovation'. It doesn't, however tell us what this innovation actually is!

Nevasic is available on CD or as a downloadable iPhone, iPod touch or iPad app. The download costs £9.99 and the CD costs £23.39 (to convert to another currency see oanda.com).

An interesting concept, but I haven't tried it personally (yet...!). Could be worth considering?

Have you had success (or otherwise) with the Nevasic? If so please let me know!


Hypnosis

Stage hypnotists have tended to give hypnosis a bad name in recent years, however a qualified medical hypnotherapist can be a great help in assisting you with the process of re-training your mind regarding motion and motion sickness. Hypnosis and hypnotherapy can be particularly helpful in dealing with nerves and anxiety associated with traveling. As everyone experiences motion sickness in an individual way, a hynotherapist will tailor your treatment to your particular triggers and circumstances.


Self Hypnosis

This article by certified hypnotherapist Kelley T Woods is full of good ideas that you can put into practice on your next trip.


The Bárány chair

The military uses habituation therapy to treat motion sickness in pilots, but their methods are rather more alarming than the gentle habituation exercises recommended by Dr Puma in his Puma Method. The rather terrifying Bárány chair - a rotating device that the patient is strapped into - can be used both to find out whether someone is prone to motion sickness, and to cure them by repeated exposure coupled with breathing and relaxation techniques. This therapy reportedly has a high success rate, so if you can get access to one of these chairs it might be worth a try!


Read on about other ways of preventing Motion Sickness:

Comments

Steve Walsh on December 23, 2012:
Took my first boat ride on the Hudson without taking my usual motion sickness medication and was not sick!!! Enjoyed a great view of the Statue of Liberty too!! :-)

I did the Puma Method for one week, but due to the holiday and Christmas have had to stop as the habituation does not work after consumption of alcohol and I've been drinking most nights.

Will be continuing it in the New Year. Thank you Dr Puma!
Dave Gosley, david.gosley@nevasic.com on October 22, 2014:
Love the fact you are talking about our product - even though you've not tried it.
Yes - for most the idea this could help seems strange, but here's something even more strange and instead of firing off my thoughts which you'd obviously and rightly say are biased - here's a web page at a credible source where they talk about the use of Nevasic in connection with the treatment of cancer... and the results of a clinical trial with cancer patients: https://www.escholar.manchester.ac.uk/uk-ac-man-scw:198788

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