Sea Sickness

General | March 3, 2018 | Author: Naturopath


Sea Sickness

If the thought of your next deep-sea adventure makes you feel queasy—there’s some natural things you can take to relieve sea sickness. Sea sickness is hardly fatal but with symptoms such as nausea, vomiting, and headache it can certainly put a damper on your holiday fun!

Sea sickness is a form of motion sickness, that can be caused by any mode of travel such as cars, aeroplanes, trains or boats.  You could also get motion sickness from video games or flight simulators. 

The process by which we adapt bodily control to life at sea is known as getting one's sea legs.

Symptoms of sea sickness include:Symptoms of sea sickness include

  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Headache
  • Dehydration
  • Dizziness
  • Balance problems
  • Sweating
  • Pale skin
  • Fatigue
  • A general feeling of being unwell

What causes sea sickness?

Sea sickness occurs when there is motion, or the body perceives motion and there is a miscommunication between the inner ear and the brain. During motion sickness our physical sense of movement and visual perception differ. For example, if you are on a cruise ship, your muscles and coils of the inner ear sense the movement, but your line of sight might be blocked—this can cause poor communication in your vestibular system resulting in sea sickness.

Vestibular system

Sensory information about motion, balance and spatial orientation is provided by the vestibular system for the purpose of coordinating movement with balance. Balance is controlled through signals to your brain from your eyes, the inner ear, and the sensory systems of the body (such as skin, muscles, and joints). A miscommunication in this system can be debilitating when severe.

Who is at risk?

Anyone can experience sea sickness but there are certain factors which can put you at risk such as:

  • Children aged between 2-12 years
  • Women are more likely than men to experience symptoms
  • Menstruating women
  • Pregnancy
  • People prone to migraines
  • Meniere’s disease (a disorder of the inner ear)
  • Inner ear infections
  • Teens with idiopathic adolescent scoliosis (a form of scoliosis)

10 natural sea sickness remedies

Conventional medications used to treat sea sickness often have a lot of side-effects. As an alternative, there are lots of things you can try in natural therapies to get relief.

Ginger root

Ginger has a long history of use in improving digestion and reducing nausea—particularly during morning sickness. While no current studies have been done on ginger in sea sickness it has been shown to prevent motion sickness, particularly in circular movements like in a flight simulator or an amusement ride. It is recommended that you take 250mg three times a day, particularly before you get on a boat. If you are taking blood thinners—use ginger with caution.


10 natural sea sickness remediesPeppermint is another example of an anti-emetic herb that helps to reduce nausea and settle the stomach. It can be taken in a variety of different ways such as capsules, herbal tea or inhaled as an essential oil. Aromatherapy is a great way to help provide relief for both children and adults. Simply inhale straight from the bottle, put a few drops on a handkerchief or rub on the temples.


There are certain homeopathics which may be helpful to reduce the symptoms of sea sickness. Nux vomica, cocculus and Kali Bichromicum are ingredients which are commonly used for nausea, vomiting, headaches and dizziness. They are safe for use in children and easy to administer.

5-HTP and magnesium

5-Hydroxytrptophan is a naturally occurring amino acid that is commonly used to boost mood. Research has found that a combination of 5-HTP with magnesium taken twice daily reduced motion sickness dramatically. 5-HTP should be prescribed by your health practitioner as it is not suitable for everyone, including people taking certain medications and young children.

Vitamin B6

Although no studies have been performed on the efficacy of vitamin B6 in sea sickness it has been found to be beneficial in other conditions such as hyperemesis gravidarum (severe morning sickness). In the days before you travel you could try supplementing with B6 or take as part of a good quality multivitamin but make sure it contains at least 25-50mg.

Plain foods and hydration

10 natural sea sickness remediesIts best to eat easy to digest, plain foods to take the load off the digestive system. Nibbling on dry crackers or sipping a sparkling water can help to relieve nausea. Dehydration can easily occur if there is vomiting so it’s important to drink small sips of water regularly or consider an electrolyte formula.

Acupressure bands

Some studies suggest that acupressure may help reduce symptoms of motion sickness in the same way as acupuncture. Acupressure bands are available commercially to help prevent motion sickness and delay the onset of symptoms.

Quick tips to prevent sea sickness

It is easier to prevent the symptoms than it is to overcome them once they have started. Here are some tips you can follow to travel more comfortably.

  • When you are travelling by boat keep your eyes on the horizon
  • Try and get plenty of fresh, cool air—avoid stuffy rooms
  • Sit on the floor or low to the ground
  • Don’t read, use a phone, tablet or laptop when moving on a boat
  • Eat light meals prior to travelling and avoid large meals—particularly if they are greasy, fatty and spicy foods
  • Listening to music may provide a distraction and prevent the symptoms from setting in
  • For frequent travellers, biofeedback therapy may help the body and mind to connect, preventing or lessening the symptoms
  • Make sure you get a good nights sleep as sleep deprivation has been found to be an aggravating factor  Australia’s best online discount chemist


Stoffregen TA, et al. Getting Your Sea Legs. PLoS One. 2013 Jun 19;8(6):e66949

Lien HC, et al. Effects of ginger on motion sickness and gastric slow-wave dysrhythmias induced by circular vection. Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol. 2003 Mar;284(3):G481-9

Lua PL, et al. A brief review of current scientific evidence involving aromatherapy use for nausea and vomiting. J Altern Complement Med. 2012 Jun;18(6):534-40

Esposito M, et al. A Medical Food Formulation of Griffonia simplicifolia/Magnesium for Childhood Periodic Syndrome Therapy: An Open-Label Study on Motion Sickness. J Med Food. 2015 Aug;18(8):916-20

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