Feeling motion sick is awful, especially when you’re stuck on a boat, plane, or bus for hours and there’s nothing you can do to make it stop. The only thing that might be worse is suffering the same symptoms on dry land—then there’s not even the prospect of solid ground in your future to take your mind off your distress. There are some conditions, like low blood pressure, that can make a person dizzy, and dizziness is also a side effect of going on or off many medications. If your dizziness persists, you should certainly see your doctor. But if you’re just suffering from some garden-variety motion sickness or vertigo, there are a few tried and true remedies that may calm your sad stomach and sense of the wobbles.
Zoloft was prescribed for me after I complained to my gynecologist of feelings of great despair. He recommended Zoloft because he heard positive things about it for menopausal symptoms and believed there were few side effects. Zoloft did take away my feeling of despair. It also obliterated my sense of humor and caused constant forgetfulness. After six years, my husband convinced me to get off Zoloft. So I bought a pill cutter and started to reduce the dose very slowly. My brain retaliated. I became extremely dizzy, to the point of being bedridden. I thought I would not be able to withstand the withdrawal symptoms. Then I remembered having similar vertigo on a cruise ship. Although the Zoloft vertigo was much worse than seasickness, acupressure wristbands worked! I’m now Zoloft free and have discovered that caffeine contributed to my emotional ups and downs.
We are glad the wristbands helped conquer your dizziness. This side effect can be troublesome when people stop antidepressants like Effexor, Paxil, or Zoloft. Gradual tapering of the dose may help ease other symptoms, such as sweating, nausea, chills, insomnia, and headache.
One day I woke up and tried to get out of bed, and the room started swaying. I became sweaty and so nauseated I was sure I would throw up. Over the next couple of days the vertigo got worse and worse. Whenever I rolled over in bed it felt like the room was spinning. A friend said the same thing happened to him, and he recommended Epley maneuvers. I saw an ear, nose, and throat specialist who diagnosed my condition as benign paroxysmal positional vertigo. His audiologist moved my head and upper body through four different positions. It took about 20 minutes (she repeated it twice). What a miracle! I was cured. I just wanted to share this with others because it restored my sanity.
Benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), despite its name, does not feel benign to sufferers. Most people who develop this condition are over 60. It is caused by a disturbance in the balance mechanism of the inner ear. Scientists believe this happens when calcium carbonate crystals become dislodged and fall into the semicircular canals of the inner ear. Until recently, there has been controversy over the best treatment. A new review shows that a sequence of head movements, sometimes referred to as the Epley maneuvers, is the most effective treatment. Although people can learn to do the movements themselves, the exercises work best when supervised by a trained professional, such as an audiologist.1
I had vertigo for 17 months, a very severe case. The doctor put me through tests, including an MRI, a test that put me in a black cabinet and spun me around while I answered questions, and one that squirted water into my ear. Then a friend suggested ginger capsules. I took the recommended two capsules four times a day. The vertigo was nearly gone, but I still had a terrible stomachache. I couldn’t eat or even sit up. I now take one capsule twice a day. The stomach pain is mostly gone, and so is the vertigo. I can walk up and down stairs without holding onto something, and I can turn around to see something behind me without my head spinning. Will I need to take the ginger for the rest of my life, or will the vertigo stop eventually? In other words, is this a cure or just treating the symptoms?
Chinese sailors have used ginger for centuries to ease or to prevent symptoms of motion sickness, so we’re not surprised it might help treat vertigo. In high doses ginger can cause heartburn or other digestive distress. We cannot speculate about whether ginger will cure your vertigo completely or just relieve the symptoms. At some point you and your physician should evaluate your progress to see whether you can discontinue the ginger.
My husband just bought a boat, and I wish I could be as enthusiastic as he is. I get seasick. He wants me to go with him, but I hate feeling so bad. Over-the-counter medicines put me to sleep. Is there a natural remedy for motion sickness that works and won’t knock me out?
You may want to try a preparation containing ginger. One randomized, double-blind study2 compared ginger capsules with dimenhydrinate, the ingredient in Dramamine. The subjects were 60 passengers on an Italian cruise ship during two days of rough seas. Ginger and dimenhydrinate were equally effective in relieving the symptoms of seasickness, but only 13 percent of people given ginger developed side effects (such as drowsiness and headache) compared to 40 percent of those on the pharmaceutical.
After a cruise, I was upset to find that solid ground felt like it was moving. This was very annoying, though it did not make me sick. A friend said ginger worked great for seasickness, so I sliced three pieces of ginger root into hot water and let it steep. The ginger tea made the ground stop moving that same day.
People often don’t anticipate that sensation of solid ground swaying beneath their feet after they have become accustomed to being on a boat. We’re glad to hear that ginger tea worked as well for that strange feeling as it does for actual seasickness.
Joe Graedon & Terry Graedon, The People’s Pharmacy: Quick & Handy Home Remedies, published by National Geographic