How and when to take Ginger for Motion Sickness
The star of the motion sickness natural remedies line up has to be ginger! It has been used as a treatment for motion sickness for centuries (it's said to have been first used by the ancient Chinese), and although it doesn't work for everyone, a lot of people find it very effective indeed.
Ginger (Zingiber officinale) is natural, widely available and cheap. What's more, it comes in numerous forms - from raw to capsules, from cookies to tea - so even if you're not a big fan of the taste, there's likely to be something you can take. And it works fast (some people find it has an almost instant effect!), even after you have started to feel nauseous.
Ginger and side effects
For most people, ginger is completely safe and side-effect free. However, it is contra indicative (can negatively interact) with certain medications, particularly blood thinners (e.g. Aspirin). Ginger should not be used by those taking blood thinners. If you are taking a course of medication, and/or if you are at all unsure if ginger is right for you, then consult your doctor.
How to take ginger
Ginger, of course, is widely available in its raw state (ginger root), but as well as fresh, it can also be used dried, powdered and as a juice or oil. You'll find it available as supplements, pills and capsules, tea, candied, in drinks (ginger ale, ginger beer) and in sweets and cookies (ginger snaps and nuts). It is even available as an essential oil (see below).
Raw ginger root
A piece of raw ginger root
The cheapest way to take ginger is to simply buy a small piece of fresh raw ginger root
in the supermarket (fresh produce section). Peel it and suck or chew a small cube or slice. Probably better not to swallow it though, as ginger can give a lingering aftertaste that many find unpleasant.
Ginger pills, tablets and capsules
If raw ginger is a bit much for you, visit your local pharmacy to get ginger in dehydrated form as pills, capsules or chewable tablets
. I find the chewable tablets work best for me, probably as the chewing action itself has a preventative effect against nausea (see Basic "Dos and Don'ts"
- 'Suck a hard candy / boiled sweet' section).
Found in supermarket spice sections, powdered ginger
can also be effective, and half a teaspoon full can be taken in a glass of water (plain or fizzy) or apple juice. Mix in a little sugar if you still have problems with the taste.
Similarly, raw ginger root can be grated and boiled up to make a 'tea'. Strain off the grated pieces and drink the liquid either as it is, or with added sugar or honey. I find this better hot than cold, so take it along with you in a vacuum flask.
Another option is to suck on a piece of candied ginger
(also known as crystallized ginger), available from good grocery and health food stores. Rather than chew the ginger, let it dissolve in your mouth. As with raw ginger, don't swallow too much of this, as it tends to 'repeat' on you.
Pickled ginger (gari
, Japanese sushi ginger)
, Japanese sushi ginger) is available from Asian groceries and some health food stores. It's a good option if you like the taste and can get hold of it.
Ginger cookies and biscuits
Of course, the easiest way to take ginger is in cookie/biscuit
form. Ginger snaps and ginger nuts are widely available. Before you buy, though, do make sure they contain real ginger (and not just an artificial flavoring). You could even try chocolate covered ginger, although the richness of the chocolate shell may well be counterproductive in preventing sickness.
Ginger ale and ginger beer
and ginger beer
are great in theory, as it's hydrating and carbonated too. But check the label carefully - many brands contain little or no actual ginger. Needless to say, artificial ginger flavoring won't do anything to prevent motion sickness. Commercial ginger beer is similar to ginger ale except that it has a significantly stronger ginger taste and is sometimes described as 'ginger ale with a kick'.
When to take ginger
Ginger seems to work best as a preventative to motion sickness if you start taking it before
your trip - at least a couple of hours before departure. In preparation for longer trips it's better to start 24-48 hours in advance. Continue to take it at regular intervals during the trip, or as and when needed. If you're taking pills or capsules, studies have shown 500mg taken every few hours to be effective, but use the dosage instructions on the packet as your guide. To avoid 'land sickness' (see notes on Mal de Debarquement Syndrome, MdDS
) following a long boat ride or cruise, it's a good idea to continue taking ginger for a couple of days after you disembark.