Natural, Herbal and Homeopathic
In addition to the Basic "Dos and Don'ts" for preventing motion sickness, there are a number of natural and herbal remedies that are worth trying before you turn to medications. Homeopathy is also an option that you may like to try.
Motion Sickness Remedies
These natural remedies are largely free from side effects, and importantly they won't make you drowsy or sleepy. Having said that, please do consult a doctor if you are at all unsure, and particularly if you are taking other medications, and/or are pregnant or breastfeeding.
When it comes to preventing and treating motion sickness, ginger
is the star of the natural remedies line-up! So much so that I've given it its own page: Ginger for Motion Sickness
If you're not a big fan of ginger don't despair - peppermint
(Mentha piperita) can also help to prevent and ease sickness and nausea. Sucking on a peppermint candy will help to keep your stomach calm, and peppermint tea can be really effective in warding off nausea. But peppermint is perhaps most effective when used as an essential oil (see below).
Some people find fenugreek
(Trigonella foenum-graecum) helpful against motion sickness and particularly the nausea that comes with it. The seeds are classified as a spice, while the leaves are a herb. Fenugreek is available in capsules or as a ready-made tea from health food stores, or as seeds or powder in the herb and spice section of supermarkets. The fresh or dried leaves can sometimes be bought at Indian and Asian food stores (often labeled as methi
), and eaten as they are, made into a tea or infusion, or ground into a pulp. Fenugreek can be taken much in the same way as ginger. If you're keen on experimenting with herbs you could try mixing a little ground fenugreek with a little ground ginger, and take it with water sweetened with a little honey.
(Foeniculum vulgare) is another herb that can be used to prevent and treat motion sickness. Both the seeds and the bulb and leaves of the plant can be used, and the seeds, and also fennel tea, are available in health food stores. As with fenugreek, Indian and Asian food stores are a good source of fennel seeds (often labeled as saunf
). Again, it can be taken in the same ways as ginger.
(Ballota nigra), taken as a tea or tincture, often together with ginger. It is available from health food stores.
are other herbs that people have told me work for them against motion sickness. A friend of mine swears by chewing raw parsley
! These herbs are all very widely available (maybe even in your own garden...) so why not experiment.
Other herbal ideas:
- Chewing cloves - if you can bear to!
- Placing half a nutmeg under the tongue
- Sucking or chewing on a piece of licorice
- Chamomile tea
- And for the brave: chewing raw garlic cloves (I haven't tried this, but apparently you have to do this before and during the trip - don't wait until you feel nauseous)
See also herbs used as essential oils and in aromatherapy below.
NB: It's not a herb, of course, but for some sugar
may possibly offer relief: a reader contacted me to insist that a spoonful of sugar kept in the mouth or held under the tongue works wonders! Apparently you have to put it into your mouth as soon as you start to feel queasy.
The B vitamins, and in particular Vitamin B6, offer some people protection against motion sickness (indeed, I've come across the claim that motion sickness is actually caused by a deficiency of Vitamin B6). Start taking Vitamin B complex pills or capsules two or three days before traveling, and continue throughout your trip. Pills or capsules containing at least 100mg of B6 are the best option, taken twice a day (although read the dosage instructions on the packet and consult a pharmacist or doctor if you are unsure).
Essential oils and aromatherapy
Both ginger and peppermint essential oils can be very effective against the symptoms of motion sickness. You can buy small bottles of essential oil in health food shops or by mail order. Simply open the bottle and take several deep breaths, inhaling the oil. For many people this gives almost immediate relief from the nausea and dizziness. Alternatively, put a few drops of the oil on to a tissue of handkerchief and hold it to your nose. Essential oils can be especially helpful in situations where it's helpful to mask other smells - such as food or fumes - that are making you feel unwell.
Essential oils can be added to a little water (preferably warm, but not hot) and sipped slowly. If you find the taste unpleasant, try adding a little honey. Alternatively, try putting a single drop of peppermint oil on your tongue before you travel.
Aromatherapists suggest using essential oils for massage. Again, ginger and peppermint are good choices, and lavender is wonderful too. Add a couple of drops of your preferred oil to a carrier oil, such as grape seed oil or a proper massage oil. Be careful if you use essential oils on your skin 'neat', as they may burn or irritate your skin. I've heard people say that they find it effective to massage the oil onto their stomachs or chests before starting on a trip where motion sickness may be an issue. When massaging with essential oils, use smooth gentle strokes and work in a clockwise direction. What works for me, however, is to massage my temples (beside the eyes, over the cheeks) with a little oil - a great stress reliever.
If you like the idea of essential oils, but would rather not mess around with them yourself, then Three Lollies
make a range of tasty natural lollipops and lozenges which incorporate essential oils and help quell nausea via aromatherapy, taste and the action of sucking on them (see Basic "Dos and Don'ts"
- sucking section).
is another commercial option - a natural oil that you apply behind your ears where is it absorbed through the skin. I've heard good reports about Motion Eaze working even if it is applied after you start to feel ill. As with the Three Lollies products, Motion Eaze is natural and drug-free, so there's little chance of any negative side-effects.
I have to be honest here and say that personally I've never really 'got' homeopathy, but I know many people find it helpful and I have friends who absolutely swear by it and say it works miracles for motion sickness!
Here are three examples of homeopathic remedies:
Obviously, I'm no expert on homeopathic preparations and medications, so do consult with a qualified homeopath if you are interested in exploring what homeopathy can do for you. However, I do know that there is quite a range of homeopathic remedies for use against motion sickness. The most commonly used homeopathic remedy for motion sickness is probably Cocculus Indicus, which gives relief from weakness, dizziness and nausea. Kali Bichromicum is recommended for nausea and vomiting, particularly when caused by sea sickness. And for very severe nausea and dry retching (when nothing comes up) try Nux Vomica.
Borax, Rhus Toxicodendron and Tabacum are some of the other homeopathic remedies that can help relieve the symptoms of motion sickness.
I'm not qualified to advise on doses, however instructions are usually printed on the label. Some homeopathic remedies are best used in combination - again I'd advise you to consult a qualified homeopath, or consider one of the combined homeopathic formulas that are commercially available. Clear Motion & Digestive Aid
is a blend of homeopathic and herbal remedies for the relief of nausea and motion sickness. Trip Ease
is another homeopathic formula in tablet form.
Note: Apologies for the lack of detail in the section. I'm planning to add more detailed information on homeopathy and motion sickness soon.
Bach Flower Remedies
Nelsons Bach Flower Remedies focus on underlying emotional issues rather than the physical symptoms - particularly useful perhaps for dealing with the stress and anxiety that often goes together with motion sickness. The most famous remedy is probably the Bach Rescue Remedy, which restores your 'inner calm' and is available in various forms, including a spray, chewy pastilles and a cream. The Bach Centre
has a full list of remedies
and useful information
on selecting the one that is right for you. Mimulus is the remedy for known fears (fear of becoming travel sick), while Aspen is the remedy for a more nebulous or general anxiety about an upcoming trip or journey. Again, if you are unsure, do consider consulting a Bach practitioner
Read on about other ways of preventing Motion Sickness: