Motion Sickness Glossary:
Words, phrases, terms and meanings

Here, in easily understandable 'laymen's language', is a reference guide to common words, phrases and terms associated with motion sickness in all its forms. I have deliberately avoided an emphasis on medical terms and explanations - if that's of interest please refer to a medical dictionary (such as Webster's New World Medical Dictionary).

3D Movie Sickness

Nausea and associated symptoms experienced by some moviegoers when watching 3D movies. For details see 3D Movie Sickness, Computer Game & Simulator Sickness and Top 10 tips for preventing 3D Movie, Gaming & Simulator Sickness.


A healing technique that uses pressure exerted by the fingers and hands to stimulate key points on the body. Stimulation of the P6 point on the inner wrist can be very effective in both preventing and relieving motion sickness, and in particular nausea. Most commercial motion sickness wristbands and bracelets are designed to function on this basis (see also acupuncture, below).


A traditional Chinese treatment in which key points in the body are stimulated by inserting and manipulating small and extremely fine needles. The treatment, which is painless, is particularly effective against nausea (see also acupressure, above).

Air Sickness

Nausea and associated symptoms experienced by some passengers (and, rarely, pilots) on planes and helicopters, triggered by the movements of the aircraft (sometimes called flight sickness).

Air Sickness Bag

A small plastic-lined or waxed paper bag commonly supplied on planes and boats for use in case of nausea and vomiting. Also known as barf bag, sick bag or happy sack.


A class of medication that is effective against nausea and vomiting, and therefore of use for the prevention and relief of the symptoms of motion sickness. Side effects are generally mild, but can include drowsiness. Cinnarizine and Cyclizine are examples of antihistamines effective against motion sickness.


The use of concentrated aromatic plant extracts (see Essential Oils) and massage to relax and heal. Effective for many people against both anxiety and nausea.

B Vitamins

A group of water-soluble vitamins found in many foods, including meat, dairy, green leafy vegetables, and wholegrain cereals. Vitamin B6 in particular may offer protection from the symptoms of motion sickness.

Bach Flower Remedies

A system of 38 herbal flower remedies, including Bach Rescue RemedyŽ - a blend of 5 remedies designed to help the user deal with an emergency or crisis. Bach Remedies' focus is on improving emotional rather than physical well being, however many people find them effective in dealing with the anxiety and worry that often accompanies - and can trigger - motion sickness.


Motion sickness bracelets use the principle of acupressure to apply pressure to a specific point on the inner wrist (the P6 / Nei Kuan point). They are generally sold in packs of two and should be used together, one on each wrist. Sometimes referred to as 'wristbands'.


A medicine or treatment that removes all symptoms of illness and restores the patient to health. There is, as yet, no real cure for motion sickness, however some people may find that certain medications, remedies or treatments work as a 'cure' in their individual case.


A condition where your body lacks adequate water, having used more water than it has taken in. There is a clear link between dehydration and motion sickness, and it is therefore very important to keep well hydrated when traveling or when exposed to other situations that may cause motion sickness.


A general term used to describe feelings of light-headedness, confusion and lack of balance. It often occurs at the onset of motion sickness.


Sleepiness, particularly at a time when one would not expect to feel tired. It is a common symptom of the onset of motion sickness, and also a common side effect of many motion sickness medications.

Drunken Sailor Syndrome

See Land Sickness/MdDS

Essential Oils

Concentrated plant extracts used in aromatherapy, massage and other complementary therapies to improve well-being. Their relaxing and calming properties can be useful against the symptoms of motion sickness.


Extreme tiredness and lack of energy. Fatigue is both a motion sickness trigger and a symptom of its onset.


Trigonella foenum-graecum, a herb (leaves) and spice (seeds) that can be effective against nausea and is sometimes used in the prevention and treatment of motion sickness.


Foeniculum vulgare, a herb sometimes used - particularly as a tea - in the prevention and treatment of motion sickness.

Genetic factors

Many experts agree susceptibility to motion sickness is carried in our genes, meaning that if you suffer from it, then your children are likely to do so too.


Zingiber officinale. The underground stem (rhizome) of this common tropical herb has numerous medical as well as culinary uses and has been used to treat the symptoms of motion sickness for centuries. For many people it is extremely effective as a treatment for dizziness, nausea and vomiting. More on Ginger for Motion Sickness.

Habituation Exercises

A treatment where the patient is repeatedly exposed to the conditions / stimuli that produce motion sickness, in order to re-train the brain's responses. Those who have undergone such programs generally report good results. Examples of habituation exercise treatments are the relatively mild Puma Method (see independent review here) and the Bárány Chair.


The use of suggestion and direction to re-train the brain's responses to certain conditions / stimuli. There is evidence that it can be used effectively in the treatment of motion sickness.

Herbal / Natural Remedies

The use of plants and plant extracts to treat and heal the symptoms of a wide range of physical and emotional problems. Ginger and peppermint are examples of herbal / natural remedies that are particularly effective against the symptoms of motion sickness. Because they are made with natural ingredients, such remedies are often automatically considered safe and free of side effects. However, this is not always the case (plenty of 'natural' ingredients are toxic!), and care should be taken regarding doses and application.

Homeopathic Remedies

A system of alternative medicine that uses minute doses of natural substances on a 'like cures like' basis (i.e. a substance that in large amounts causes nausea in a healthy person would be used in a highly dilute state to treat the symptoms of nausea). Some people swear by homeopathic remedies for treating motion sickness.

Inner Ear

The fluid-filled tubes of the innermost of the three parts of the ear enable us not only to hear, but also to balance. Disturbances in this inner ear fluid (e.g. from unfamiliar patterns of motion) result in disorientation that leads to nausea and other symptoms of motion sickness.


A medical term for motion sickness / travel sickness.

Land Sickness

A common condition in which someone who has spent time on a boat (or occasionally on other forms of transport) experiences 'reverse seasickness' - i.e. motion sickness symptoms upon returning to stable land, their body having become accustomed to the motion of the boat. Re-adjustment generally takes a few hours, or no more than a couple of days. However, in rare cases symptoms persist - see Mal de Debarquement Syndrome (MdDS) below.

Mal de Debarquement Syndrome (MdDS)

A relatively rare syndrome in which prolonged symptoms of motion sickness occur when back on stable land (typically following a cruise, however it can also occur after other types of exposure to motion). The condition is little understood and can be debilitating.

Mal de Mer

French for sea sickness (lit: 'illness of the sea').


Substances (typically drugs) used for the medical treatment of illness.

Morning Sickness

A condition with symptoms very similar to those of motion sickness that affects many pregnant women, particularly in the early stages of the pregnancy. Its causes are still unclear.

Motion Sickness

Feelings of queasiness, dizziness and nausea often leading to vomiting, triggered by a mismatch in the signals received by the brain while traveling or moving, typically on a boat, in a car or on a plane. It is an extremely common complaint and most people will experience it at some point. There are a wide range of remedies, treatments and medications available for the prevention and treatment of motion sickness, and also a range of behaviors that can help. Also known as travel sickness, and medically as kinetosis.

Motion Sickness Patch

The Transderm-Scop is a medicated patch that is applied to the skin (normally behind the ear) and releases medication over a 72-hour period. It must be prescribed by a doctor. While it works extremely well for many people, it is also associated with a number of side effects and withdrawal symptoms. More about the Transderm-Scop Motion Sickness Patch.


A feeling of sickness and queasiness in the stomach and head that leads to the urge to vomit. For most people, nausea is the primary symptom of motion sickness. Interestingly, the word nausea comes from the Greek, meaning 'ship sickness' (naus = ship).

Natural Remedies

See Herbal / Natural Remedies.

Nei Kuan Point

An acupressure / acupuncture point located on the inner wrist that can be stimulated for the relief of nausea, vomiting and motion sickness symptoms generally. Motion sickness wristbands and bracelets work by stimulating the Nei Kuan point. Also known as P6 (Pericardium 6) point.


A non-language audio program that claims to 'eliminate the symptoms of motion sickness'. Also known as TravelWell.

OTC Motion Sickness Medications

Medicines, remedies and treatments available over-the-counter to everyone, and not requiring a prescription from a doctor or medical professional.

P6 (Pericardium 6) Point

An area on the inner wrist that can be stimulated by acupuncture and acupressure for the relief of nausea, vomiting and motion sickness symptoms generally. Motion sickness wristbands and bracelets work by stimulating the P6 point. Also known as the Nei Kuan point. More on the P6/Nei Kuan point.


Mentha piperita, the leaves of a plant of the mint family, popularly used as a tea, and as a flavoring for a wide variety of foods. Many people find it effective against the symptoms of motion sickness.

Puma Method

A program of habituation exercises designed to boost tolerance to problematic patterns of motion, and therefore eliminate symptoms of motion sickness (see independent review here).

Rescue Remedy®

See Bach Flower Remedies.

Rx Motion Sickness Medications

Medicines (typically drugs) licensed only to be available on prescription from a registered doctor or other medical professional.

Sea Bands

Probably the best known and most widely available brand of motion sickness wristbands. Works on the principle of acupressure (acupuncture without needles).

Sea Legs

'Getting your sea legs' refers to the ability to be comfortable on board a ship, free of any symptoms of motion sickness.

Side Effects

Unwanted symptoms caused by a medication, remedy or treatment. Pretty much all medicines - and some remedies and treatments too - can cause side effects. Susceptibility can vary greatly from person to person. More on side effects.

Simulation / Simulator Sickness

A condition with symptoms very similar to those of motion sickness, triggered by some high-resolution computer games and virtual reality simulators, especially in immersion environments created by head-mounted displays. Sometimes also called cyber sickness. For details see 3D Movie Sickness, Computer Game & Simulator Sickness


A set of symptoms that when they occur together, are characteristic of a particular illness or condition.


A feature of an illness or condition that indicates its presence. Major symptoms of motion sickness are fatigue, headache, dizziness, nausea and vomiting.


A therapy or pattern of care given to a patient to deal with an illness or condition. Treatments for motion sickness include acupuncture and habituation exercises.


The sensation of dizziness, spinning movement or loss of balance generally caused by issues with the inner ear and/or vestibular system. It is also associated with vision problems. Mal de Debarquement appears to be a form of vertigo.

Vestibular System

The part of the brain that coordinates and responds to sensory information received from the eyes, inner ear, muscles and numerous other parts of the body. It is said that those with a dysfunctional or absent vestibular system are 'immune' to motion sickness.


The involuntary ejection of stomach contents via the mouth. Sometimes referred to by its medical term emesis.


Motion sickness wristbands use the principle of acupressure to apply pressure to a specific point on the inner wrist (the P6/Nei Kuan point). They are generally sold in packs of two and should be used together, one on each wrist. Sometimes referred to as 'bracelets'. There are also several electronic wristbands available. More on acupressure and wristbands.

Travel Sickness

An alternative term for Motion Sickness

Zingiber Officinale

see Ginger

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