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Amazon Sea Sickness Related Books

YOUR TRIP ABROAD Department of State Publication 10542

DrugInfonet.com Doctors' Answers to Sea Sickness
Goddess of the Sea Cruises Article Avoiding Sea Sickness while Boating
H&M Landing Article Worried About Sea Sickness
The Fishing Line; By Rich Johnson Sea Sickness "IF YOU WAIT…IT’S TOO LATE"
Sailing Magazine; By Rick Brucato Battling Sea Sickness




Motion Sickness Site       Morning Sickness Site


Avoiding Sea Sickness while Boating Courtesy of: Goddess of the Sea Cruises

Avoiding Sea Sickness while Boating, is easier than you might think, especially on a sailboat, rather than a power boat.
Going fishing on a power boat involves long periods of drifting, and you are subjected to roll and pitch, the smell of bait, diesel or gas exhaust fumes, and possibly fuel vapors. None of these unpleasant items is present while sailing with us! Roll is the side to side movement, much more prevalent on a power boat while fishing, pitch is the fore and aft movement. While sailing, you will always be moving, driven by the wind, in unison with the tide and swells, a very natural feeling.
Because a sailboat has a keel, (a weighted fin projected down underwater, not visible while sailing), to oppose the force of the wind, roll is eliminated. And roll, is the biggest cause of motion sickness.

During the summer of 2003, Goddess of the Sea Cruises had 39 sailing reservations of 1 - 3 day sailing adventures. Not one person became sick, or ended their cruise with us early!

At first you feel that you may die, then you worry that you won't.

Nothing can spoil a day on the water like a case of motion sickness. When it happens at sea, we refer to it as mal de mer or sea sickness. Whatever you call it, it feels miserable when it besets us. This page then is dedicated to reducing or eliminating its severity or occurrence, or possibly preventing it altogether,  so we you may enjoy your sailing adventure.

What it is: 

Motion sickness is a conflict between your senses. A fluid filled canal in your inner ear that controls your sense of balance tells your brain that your body is moving, while your eyes, looking into the cabin of the boat, tells your brain that you are not moving. That conflict can cause your body to be out of balance, and we know how the digestive system feels about that.

Here, we will concentrate on prevention. We will also look at the mind, body, spirit as a whole. A disharmony among them is what causes practically any illness.

If your systems are out of whack, your meals may come back.

Our metabolisms are nearly as unique as our personalities. Some preventatives will work for some people and not others. Others will work, though with varying degrees of effectiveness. You may have to do some trials and experimenting to find what works best for you. Nothing works the same for everybody.

There are two symptoms of seasickness, dizziness and nausea. Since a number of factors contribute to sea sickness and can trigger either or both parts, it makes sense to adhere to the following guidelines to reduce the chances of succumbing to it.

1. Get plenty of rest before you go out on the water. Weariness and exhaustion can make you more susceptible to other things that can bring on motion sickness. Do your gear preparation early the day before and take care of other business well before a proper bed time.

2. Do not eat greasy or acidic foods for several hours before your sailing adventure. This includes having coffee also. You don't want to have a lot of acid or heavy, slow to digest foods rolling around in your stomach while you are rolling around on the sea. Heavy, greasy foods like bacon and eggs, sausage, waffles or pancakes with syrup, alone or combined with acidic juices like orange juice, can wreak havoc on your system and end up recycled as lunch for fishes. Consider less acidic fruits (apples, bananas, pears, grapes, melons, etc.), breads (muffins, croissants, rolls), cereals and grains as alternatives. Milk, water, apple juice, cranberry juice and other low acid beverages are gentler alternatives to orange juice or grapefruit juice.Caffeinated beverages (including soft drinks) should be avoided as they are diuretics (make you urinate) which accelerates dehydration. The gas in carbonated beverages has negative responses in some, avoid them also.

3. Do not skip eating before sailing. An empty stomach can be almost as bad as one with the wrong types of food in it. Give your stomach acids something to work on other than your well-being. Give your stomach time to begin digesting you meal. Get up a little earlier if you must to eat relax and an hour or more before going out on the water.  Don't overeat and get bloated either.  Easy does it.

4. Drink plenty of water. Even partial dehydration lowers your body's resistance to the stressful factors caused by the boat ride. Take lots of water with you and drink often.

5. Do not drink alcoholic beverages for several hours. Alcohol tends to dehydrate the body. Its other symptoms are not desirable either. Alcohol can prevent the REM (Rapid Eye Movement) stage of sleep, the one in which you dream and your brain rests. You may feel tired and not alert from just a few drinks, two qualities not conducive to safe boating. If you do plan on drinking, make every third drink a glass of water. It will reduce dehydration and your chances for a hangover.

6. Avoid gasoline or diesel fumes. They can put you over the edge literally and figuratively. Stay out of direct sunlight as much as possible. Avoid becoming overheated and dehydrated.

7. Again, if possible, avoid the cabin and other enclosed spaces. Sometimes, a breezy spot in the sun may be preferable to a shady spot in a stuffy cabin.  The open air and ability to look out over the horizon are often more important than being in a shady spot, which can be stuffy and enclosed, limiting your view of the horizon and perhaps making you more prone to motion sickness.

There will be less motion towards the center of the boat, both horizontally and vertically, and it will increase with the height of the waves.  Avoid the upper decks as the higher you go, the more you will experience swaying back and forth.  Horizontally, you want to be amidships, towards the center, rather that at the bow or stern.  The more sensitive to motion sickness you are, the closer you need to be towards the center, which is the calmest part of the boat.

8. If you are beginning to feel a bit queasy, stand up and look out over the horizon. Despite what you might think, sitting or laying down is the worst thing you can do at this point. Don't do it. This is a critical moment. You will get much worse even faster and may reach a point of no return if you make the wrong choice. Soda crackers seem to help some people by calming their stomachs and reducing nausea.

Steering the boat is an instant remedy.

9. When the boat is rolling with the waves rather than moving under its own power and you are standing on deck, possibly getting hot, your resistance to motion sickness diminishes rapidly. Reduce that exposure time to an absolute minimum.

11. Have some water and fruit before. It can help by rehydrating you.

12. If someone in your party is overcome by sea sickness, get away from them at once! Unfortunately, many of us can do fine until someone else loses it. Then we have a sympathetic reaction and succumb as well. It could be the sound, the smell, the sight, or a combination of them that triggers the same response in us. You don't have to be close to your buddy at this time. There is nothing you can do to help.

If you feel nauseous and about to succumb, please avoid the entry and exit areas of the boat. Hang your head over the gunwales.

Medications and Natural Preventatives
Ginger is a natural preventative. It soothes a queasy stomach and has no side effects. You can get it in pill form, tablets or powder, as ginger root in many herb and health food stores, or as pickled ginger slices at Japanese food marts and even at many Japanese restaurants. Most serve it pickled with sushi, hand rolls, and other of their dishes. It puts out the fire that too much wasabe can start.
Some doctors recommend that you can take it 12-24 hours before, as preventing sea sickness is easier than curing it. Somewhere from 1 gram up to 4 grams per day of powdered ginger is recommended. Some studies seem to indicate that ginger is more effective in the reduction of vomiting and sweating than nausea and vertigo, although they reduce those symptoms as well. You can try gingersnap cookies and ginger ale, although their lower ginger content may not be as effective. They do work for many sailors though.

Eating peppermint in conjunction with ginger is reported by as being even more effective. Since mint does have some of the same calming qualities as ginger, this may be true. Perhaps it is just the belief that it works that is effective. Regardless, it is an inexpensive and pleasant addition. An added benefit is making your breath sweeter.

Another treatment is an accupressure wrist band. It applies pressure to a particular point on your wrist which can prevent the feeling of nausea.

Here's an interesting treatment that was found. It is a treatment that works on some after they are feeling queasy, rather than as a preventative. Immerse your feet in ice water. Anecdotal reports indicate it helps some people.

There are other preventatives, such as over the counter and prescription medications. Most should be taken in advance and not on an empty stomach. Be sure to read the instructions. Dramamine is one that has been used for years. Meclizine and bonine are also effective. You can find them at most pharmacies and drug stores. Scopolamine was used for awhile in the Transderm patches, but was taken off the market because of quality control problems, though it is now available again (as of fourth quarter 1997).  Be sure to read this warning about sea sickness medications. It might give you more reasons to try other methods of prevention than medication.

Scopolamine is a prescription drug in the family of chemicals known as belladonna alkaloids (belladonna from the Italian for beautiful lady. Renaissance women took belladonna to get dilated pupils, an effect of scopolamine). Scopolamine should not be used by people with glaucoma. Its side effects can include dry mouth (the most common side effect,) dilated pupils with blurred vision, drowsiness, disorientation, confusion, memory disturbances, dizziness, restlessness, hallucinations, and difficulty urinating. When you stop using the patches you can also get disorientation, confusion, memory disturbances, dizziness, and restlessness.

Scopolamine's side effects are not predictable. You could have used it without problems many times before and still develop an untoward reaction. Some of the side effects are similar to the effects of nitrogen narcosis, and even if you're having a mild reaction to the scopolamine (and maybe not even know it) the reaction could be more pronounced at depth.
There is no one I know of who can't get seasick if the conditions are right, but there are some things that can be done to reduce the possibility.

More Tips!

1. Don't drink liquor excessively the night before departing. The slight morning after feeling can be many times compounded on a boat.
2. Be careful to avoid greasy foods. The first sign of seasickness is indigestion and it often never gets past that point.
3. Drink Coke or Pepsi. These two drinks help reduce the chances of getting sick because they contain phosphoric acid, which is an ingredient in Emetrol, a drug to control vomiting. That's the medical explanation I received from a doctor when I asked why a Coke seems to settle the stomach. Eat Saltine crackers. They absorb the excess acidity very well. If the indigestion is really bad, take an antacid.
4. Stay up on deck where the air is fresh and you can see the horizon. The worst thing is to focus on a near object that is moving around in relation to the background like making an intricate repair below decks in the forepeak of the boat. When you stay on deck you can see the horizon and it greatly helps maintain your equilibrium and orientation. Also, since the smell of diesel fuel can aggravate seasickness, fresh air helps.
5. If you have a choice of berths, don't choose one in the forward cabin if sailing at night. At anchor, the forward stateroom is fine! There is less pitching motion in the center of the boat and the quietest berth from the point of view of movement is often the quarter-berth, if there is one.
6. Sleep on your back. This seems to support the stomach better from bouncing around, though, not being a doctor, I couldn't tell you why.
7. Keep busy on deck. Some say seasickness is completely psychological. I know of people who have gone asleep feeling well, only to wake up seasick, so I doubt that it's all psychological. However, if you sit around worrying that you might get seasick, it's apt to happen. Seeing and smelling others seasick doesn't seem to have an effect on me, but it may cause others to feel sick. If you're very busy on deck steering, or trimming and changing sails, you are less apt to feel bad, but once you do feel sick, activity tends to make it worse. You'll feel much better if you tickle your throat over the side and get rid of it. Obviously, this has to be done on the leeward side of the boat and it's best to have someone hold onto your belt in back, because you don't have much control while vomiting.
8. Have your ears cleaned before a long race or cruise. This has helped many people reduce their proneness to seasickness by allowing the balance mechanism in the ears to work better. I've never had it done myself, but I've heard it helps.
9. Be in good physical condition. It reduces your chances of becoming seasick and also reduces its debilitating effects on you if you do.
10. Steer. This even helps the crew members that have already started to feel queasy. Steering necessitates looking at the horizon (#4) and keeping busy (#7), and provides anticipation of what the next movement of the boat will be.
When you encounter very rough weather early in a distance race or long cruise, particularly early in the season or before you have had a chance to get much sailing in, your chances are higher you'll get sick. If you have a couple of days to get your "sea legs", (this term applies to maintaining your balance and insofar as balance affects your tendency towards seasickness, it has come to apply to that also), you should have no trouble


Worried About Sea Sickness? Some Suggestions from: H&M Landing

The first step in dealing with any ailment is understanding what is wrong so that you can mentally deal with the problem. This is very important in dealing with sea sickness. Sea sickness starts with the inner ear, your balance center.

Even though your head aches, you are sick to your stomach and basically feel the worst you have ever felt, you are not really sick, just out of balance. At times your skin is actually green. No question about it, you feel bad, but you must remember you have no disease, just a motion problem. YOU can do a lot to cure yourself, and very quickly.

A good analogy might be; you turn around in a circle until you fall down and.throw up. If you stop turning, you feel better very quickly. Your balance center was just out of whack.

Some things to remember: Fresh air is good but you want to stay low and to the stern of the boat. That is where you will encounter the least motion. The bow of the boat pounds through the waves, up and down the stern drags through the water. The ride is much smoother. The boat rocks from side to side. The higher you are the more movement you encounter.

Think of a flagpole in the wind. There is very little movement at the bottom while the top may, sway severa1 feet. So, you want to be low and to the stern. Look at the horizon and try to get your balance. Take some deep breaths. Rock your shoulders back and forth. Realize that your body is probably tight and stiff. Try and roll with the boat instead of, sub-consciously, stiffening up and fighting the motion. It's called getting your sea legs. Sometimes it takes awhile. Sometimes a nap will help. Try to take your mind off how bad you feel and focus on something else. Remember, the first step to controlling seasickness is to realize what is wrong with you and deal with that, not concentrate on how sick you are.

There are several good medications on the market. The best is probably the scopolamine patch by Transderm Scop. It is still a prescription medication but usually easy to obtain with a simple call. to your doctor. Dry mouth is usually the only side effect. but that is true with most all sea sickness medications.

There are several over the counter medications but the one we like best is Bonine. Drowsiness is the side effect but less so with Bonine than with other brands. To be effective you should get this medication in your system 8 hours before you board the boat. If possible, sleep on it and take more when you board the boat and you tend to be less drowsy. That way, it's in your system and working when .you wake up.

Smooth Sailing is a ginger drink that many people say works quite well especially to settle your stomach. Combining smooth Sailing and Bonine can work well also. Wristbands can work for some people but are not generally considered the best remedy.

Severe sea sickness can be treated by using a combination of both the scopolamine-patch and Bonine and almost never fails. But you should check with your doctor. The side effect is hunger and more drowsiness.

Seasickness Information Courtesy of: SailingIssues

Virtually anyone can be subject to sea sickness or motion sickness. In fact, 90% of the people have experienced motion sickness at one point in their lives and only veteran ocean sailors seem rather impervious to it.

Cause of seasickness

Motion sickness relates to our sense of spatial orientation, which tells the brain where the body is "in space": what direction it is moving, what direction it is pointing, and if it is turning or standing still.

This sense of spatial orientation is regulated by complex interaction of the 4 following mechanisms:

bulletBoth inner ears monitor the directions of motion in three dimensions.
bulletOur eyes observe where our body is in relation to its surroundings as well as the direction of motion.
bulletSkin pressure receptors such as those located in the feet and seat sense in what direction the gravitational pull affects our body, in other words: what side is up?
bulletMuscle and joint sensory neural receptors report which parts of the body are in motion and in which relative direction.

 All these sensory data will subsequently be processed in the central nervous system, which enables us to balance, move and position ourselves properly in our three dimensional surroundings.
The symptoms of motion sickness appear when the brain receives conflicting messages from the 4 systems. And a conflict on board can easily occur : when reading a book on deck your eyes observe no motion, yet your inner ears feel the motion of the yacht due to the waves.


The first telltales of such a conflict are often lethargy and a slight drowsiness. But for the victims it will usually start with a nauseous feeling and/or a slight cold sweat. Then these symptoms increase, and the face becomes paler, perhaps even greenish. Any attempt to concentrate on a task will worsen this predicament. The nauseous feeling eventually becomes incontrollable, and leads to - sometimes violent - vomiting.



Hours before casting off you could well use an over-the-counter antihistamine such as meclizine or dimenhydrinate and you should - before ánd during the voyage - avoid spicy or rich foods, alcohol and apples. For longer trips, a prescription medication called Transderm-Scopolamine patch can be worn behind the ear for up to three days at a time. Side-effects of these medications usually consist of sedation and dry mouth. Interestingly enough : Recent studies have shown that ginger root may be as effective as the other drug treatments but is associated with fewer side effects.

If, despite all these precautions, you still notice the early symptoms with one of you crew, act immediately and :

bulletget the victim out on deck but not in direct sunlight.
bulletdon't give the victim any task other than steering.
Steering - as well as studying the horizon works and will help to anticipate the boat's motion. Else let the victim lay in the cockpit to leeward with closed eyes.
bulletSteady the yacht, either by heaving to or letting the best helmsman drive the yacht.


Sea Sickness Courtesy of: Irishhealth

What is seasickness?

This is a form of motion sickness caused by erratic stimulation to the brain from the sensory receptors. This is prompted by constantly changing movement.

What are the symptoms of seasickness?

Symptoms generally consist of dizziness, fatigue, and nausea, which may progress to vomiting.

Who is affected by seasickness?

Sea divers and those travelling by sea can be affected. It has been found that fear or anxiety can lower the threshold for experiencing symptoms, however some individuals seem to be prone to seasickness since childhood.

What causes seasickness?

Sea sickness is caused by changes in movement. It results from disparities between the signals sent to the brain by the vestibular organs and by other sense organs such as the eyes. Mixed signals may cause the brain to produce signals causing headaches, dizziness, nausea and vomiting.

How can I avoid seasickness?

bulletSeek an area of lesser movement in an interior location of a large ship, or by facing forward and looking outside the ship. This spot can usually be found in the middle of the vessel, where you should stay as low as possible.
bulletAvoid alcohol and smoking.
bulletAvoid over-exerting yourself when at sea.
bulletAvoid small cramped spaces.
bulletTake preventive medications such as antihistamines, available over the counter which help to limit the symptoms of seasickness.
bulletGinger root may be helpful.
bulletWristband devices can be worn. These are straps with a stud, which exerts the requisite amount of pressure over the acupuncture point, providing relief.
bulletIf you have symptoms of sea sickness as a diver, avoid swimming, as this can be hazardous. Malaise and dizziness may impair judgement, and vomiting under water can be dangerous.

What can I do if I suddenly begin to feel ill on a ship?

bulletStay on deck for fresh air, taking slow breaths.
bulletSee if there is a ship doctor with suitable medication.
bulletApply cool packs of ice to the eyes and neck.
bulletAvoid spicy or greasy food.
bulletAvoid reading.
bulletFocus your eyes on the horizon.

Is there any way of finding if I will suffer with seasickness?

Try reading a newspaper while in a moving car. If you have no problem with this, than you should have no problem with ships either.


Motion Sickness: Courtesy of: The Fishing Line
By Rich Johnson

Motion Sickness a.k.a. sea sickness is certainly no laughing matter, particularly when it happens to you. Some of the most experienced captains can succumb to it on occasion and knock on wood, so far I’ve been spared its wrath through my boating and fishing life. When it strikes, the only thing that can save you if you’re a chronic sufferer is to set foot on terra firma again. There are certain things you can do to keep a planned fishing or boating excursion from becoming the boat ride from hell. If you have suffered from sea sickness, there is help and some might even consider the prognosis good.

As in life, common sense prevails. There are going to be problems if you stay out all night boozing it up with friends in the local tavern. Stay away from alcohol, eat sensibly and get a good night’s sleep. When you wake in the morning, don’t down a half pound of bacon with greasy eggs and four cups of coffee. Pass on the tea, coffee, caffeine and greasy foods, but do eat something. Oatmeal, breads, muffins or toast are all decent substitutes and drink plenty of water. Keep from becoming dehydrated. Another great tip I’ll pass along to you all is don’t lay awake at night worrying about getting sick…because you will! Most sea sickness cases are mind induced from worrying about it!

REMEDIES. My girlfriend Heather always suffered from motion sickness and had trouble looking at a postcard of sailing or boating. We tried all sorts of prescription and non-prescription drugs from Dramamine to Promethazine and Scalopamine. Nothing worked until she tried the acupressure wristbands. These wristbands have a velcro strap with a small plastic bead that you place over a pressure point on the underside of your wrist. She tried these and has since had little to no problems on the water, unless we encounter very rough water on the way home.

Another remedy that is FDA approved is the Relief Band available through . This a watch like device worn the same way, but on the underside of the wrist. It sends a slight electrical impulse through the wrist to counter balance the feeling of sea sickness. It works on a small battery that comes with the Relief Band and is replaceable. You can adjust the strength of the impulse by degrees on the face of the "watch." This is a dynamic new way to fish the awful feeling of sea sickness and the FDA gives it an 85% success rating.

Some of the more time-tested fixes for these problems are available over the counter are taken orally and include Dramamine, Mazerine and Bonine. If these don’t work the next phase is to try something stronger which means getting a prescription from your doctor. 

In a call to my doctor and pharmacy, I found a pair of prescription drugs that are quite effective. In this call I was also informed there can be side effects when taking any drug for any problem and these drugs are no different. I don’t want to scare anyone, but you should try these remedies out days before your trip to see how these drugs will effect you. Everyone is different and some will experience no problems while others will. Pregnant women should also consult a doctor for advice on these drugs.

The first remedy is Meclizine-HCL (hydra-chloride), sold under the brand name Antivert. This works very well and is the number one recommendation by my personal physician. The side effect to this can be drowsiness.The second most recommended prescription is Scopolamine. The brand name is Trans-derm Scope sold by the Ciba Co., which comes as a patch and is absorbed though the skin via a patch, hence the derm in the name. The patch was off the market for a while due to a manufacturing problem, but all is okay my pharmacy told me they are back in stock and working well again. Side effects here can be blurred vision and/or dry mouth.

GO NATURAL. A well documented natural remedy with the properties to combat nausea is the common spice ginger. Sprinkling generous amounts on your food the night before fishing or boating can be all that’s needed to make the next day comfortable and pleasant for those who are not chronic sufferers.

WHILE AT SEA. If you’re out at sea and the dreaded feeling of sea sickness is fast approaching, try room temperature lemon-lime soda. I’ve seen this work well in the past. Try getting to a part of the boat not rocking as much and above all…stay away from lying down below deck. Going below is the worst thing you can do! Stay topside in the fresh air and keep an eye on the horizon. No matter how the boat is rocking, the horizon will always stay steady, sometimes having a calming effect.

The bottom line in avoiding sea sickness all comes down to preparation and a matter of what you do before you leave the dock. Take your medications the night before, get a good night’s sleep and don’t spend time worrying about it. But above all…If you wait…it’s too late

See you on the water.


Article from Sailing Magazine

By: Rick Brucato

Battling seasickness
When it comes to preventing mal de mer, natural and chemical options can offer relief r

A stiff breeze pushes us up the lake, along with some choppy water, as we set out on the season’s first cruise. The fresh air feels great on this crisp morning and the crew is excited. The chop, however, is building and an occasional steep roller lays us hard over. We slog north and after taking it on the nose for two hours I notice one of the crew starts looking a little pale. Seconds later, the guy is gripping the lifeline, feeding the alewives and praying for salvation. We’re just starting our five-day sail. What could have been done to prevent this and what to do now? Can we salvage our sail?

Seasickness or mal de mer strikes even the most hardened sailor occasionally. Seasickness occurs when the vestibular system, the balance mechanisms within the inner ear, become disrupted and out of sync with visual signals. The inner ear, consisting of the semicircular canal and utricle, tracks a boat’s up and down and sideways motion. The brain registers motion, but the visual system fails to provide confirming information, and the mismatched messages can cause nausea. The most common example is a boat’s rising and falling without an external reference point such as horizon or fixed landmarks (or other boats in motion). If the body is moving up and down, but vision is focused on something static, like the cabin sole, nausea may ensue.

Many people are sensitive to motion alone, even without mismatched signals. Factors that precipitate or exacerbate motion sickness include diet, illness, dehydration, fatigue, negative associations from previous sailing experiences (diesel exhaust or other fumes often become powerful triggers) and anxiety. If car, airplane or roller coaster rides make you queasy, sailing in rough weather may test your gut as well.

If seasickness threatens your sailing enjoyment, or hampers your crew, there are effective countermeasures, including over-the-counter and prescription drugs, non-drug therapies such as wristbands, dietary, health and psychological strategies. Some approaches will work even when the misery has already set in.

Prescription treatments
Prescription motion sickness medications fall into two classes: anticholinergic and antihistamine. The most commonly prescribed seasickness medication is Transderm Scop also called “the patch.” This round bandage, worn behind the ear, contains the anticholinergic medicine scopolamine. Scopolamine diffuses through a membrane at a constant rate, and is absorbed through the skin, slipping in between vestibular system nerve cells, which help regulate motion malaise. Blocking key signals at cholinergic nerve junctions, scopolamine stomps out nausea pretty effectively. The patch must be applied well ahead of time as effective blood levels are not achieved for six to eight hours.

Scopolamine is also available in tablet form (Scopace), which has rated more effective than the patch in some studies, possibly because dosing may be more accurate. Scopolamine also comes in an injectable form, used for mariners stuck in a life raft or rescue pod in offshore emergencies where prolonged seasickness can become very dangerous. Because of its anticholinergic properties, Scopolamine may cause dehydration, blurred vision, short-term memory disruption and dry mouth and drowsiness. Your physician must prescribe this powerful medication; make sure your doctor knows what other medications you’re taking or if you have health problems.

In addition to scopolamine, the prescription drug Stugeron (brand name for the drug cinnarizine) is often used in the United Kingdom and Germany, but has not yet been approved in the United States. Stugeron is a prescription antihistamine that inhibits stimulation of the vestibular system. It is often included in studies that evaluate several drugs with scopolamine and nonprescription drugs.

Antihistamines were not originally developed to aid sailors suffering from seasickness. Ocean travelers suffering from allergies reported fewer problems with motion sickness and nausea. Antihistamines also have intrinsic anticholinergic properties, similar to scopolamine. Unfortunately, antihistamines typically cause drowsiness.

Another prescription drug available in the U.S. is Phenergan (brand name for the drug promethazine). Promethazine prevents vomiting and can serve as an anti-motion sickness agent. It is also used as a sedative compound at high doses. Promethazine has been used to treat astronauts—motion sickness in space can be a serious problem.

Chlorpheniramine is another drug that has recently been tested in humans and may become indicated for motion sickness.

In general, prescription drugs are stronger than the over-the-counter remedies, and may conflict with other medications. The strength required for motion sickness drugs varies with each individual. Sailors on a daysail have different needs than those making transatlantic passages or offshore sailors stuck in foul weather for several days.

Alternative remedies
Often, mild nausea or seasickness experienced on daysails or coastal cruises can be prevented with nonprescription drugs or alternative relief methods. The most recognized nonprescription drug, Dramamine, is formulated with the antihistamine dimenhydrinate. This drug has helped many green-gilled sailors, but it can leave the crew crawling for a bunk—this antihistamine makes many sleepy. Dramamine and Bonine tablets now come in a newer formulation, meclizine HCL. Meclizine HCL has fewer side effects, including sleepiness. Bonine comes in chewable raspberry-flavored tablets. Sedation caused by antihistamines has been prevented in tests by spiking the compounds with nonprescription stimulants such as caffeine. Meclizine HCL has been tested with caffeine in some studies. Scopolamine is available with stronger, prescription stimulants as well. These combinations are used when alertness and clear concentration are particularly important, as antihistamines can interfere with concentration.

It is important to note that some medications may have side effects that may make one more prone to seasickness or may reduce the effectiveness of seasickness medications. Always remind your physician about your daily, maintenance medications when requesting a medication for seasickness. Sometimes a simple dose adjustment of your meds will reduce seasickness tendency.

Ginger comes in many forms but is most often sold either as Sailors Secret or Anti-Nausea Ginger Gum, produced by the Sea-Band folks. Research studies suggest ginger may speed up digestion, block nausea directly or otherwise soothe a turbulent gut. The active constituents of ginger, polyphenolic compounds or gingerols, inhibit Helicobacter pylori, a causal culprit in dyspepsia, peptic ulcer and possibly colon and gastric cancer. Ginger root extract (SGRE) has been combined with pycnogenol (a natural extract) into Zinopin, a travel supplement that is supposed to reduce risk of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and motion sickness. Ginger does indeed seem to be good stuff.

Other herbal remedies include Sea-Sik Oral Spray, a mix of homeopathic and herbal remedies; Queasy Pops, also from natural herbs that come in ginger, peppermint and lavender flavors; and On The Move capsules, a combination of ginger root, licorice root and cayenne. The effectiveness of the above herbal remedies is not well documented, although Sea-Sik cites numerous research studies on its Web site.

A natural remedy that has received attention is the herbal concentrate Motion Eaze. Motion Eaze consists of oils from birch, frankincense, lavender chamomile, and myrrh peppermint and ylang-ylang. Motion Eaze is dabbed behind the ear, and probably absorbed into the vestibular system, much like the scopolamine.

Acupressure relieves seasickness for some by stimulating or altering nerve impulses at the wrist’s median nerve, which ultimately changes brain chemistry associated with nausea. Sea Bands, BioBands and ReliefBands all work on this principle. Sea Bands and BioBands exert pressure on the wrist via a plastic bead. BioBands come with a Velcro strap that permits pressure adjustment. ReliefBands apply an electrical shock to the wrist, blocking impulses en route to the brain. ReliefBands are available as disposable bracelets or with rechargeable butteries and a battery life indicator. Multiple settings permit adjustment based on need, but they offer no relief without batteries.

There is also some evidence that hypnosis reduces motion sickness. The Journal of Clinical Pharmacology reported in 2000 that hypnosis was more effective than promethazine in preventing sickness in laboratory testing.

A good diet
Any food or drink that is acidic or hard to digest such as orange juice, coffee, fried bacon, sausage or eggs can cause stomach upset that may precipitate more serious nausea and seasickness. Coffee also contains caffeine, a diuretic that causes the body to eliminate water, even if water is needed.

Grease-ball breakfasts are better replaced with oat bran, granola, water or less acidic juices and drinks. Sugary sodas may taste good, but in the heat of a hot beat they can suck the water right out of you. Alcohol may take the edge off, but too much increases the risk of serious seasickness for two reasons. First, it impairs balance, equilibrium and can upset the stomach. Secondly, alcohol is a major dehydrator; heat, wave motion and booze cruising is a sure recipe for spiraling mal de mer. Sports drinks such as Powerade, Gatorade and All Sport, help maintain electrolyte balance and fluid control. Water, however, is still the best hydrator in many people’s books.

When seasickness tightens its grip, doctors and research studies indicate lying on your side or back helps. This reduces head movements relative to your body and also gives muscles a chance to relax, rather than fighting seas and wind. Keeping an eye on the horizon may help too. When the chop starts to churn, so does an upset stomach, and antacids such as Maalox or Tums can help.

When medications, rest, sleep or prayer just can’t keep you from blowing your bilge, it might seem a good idea to stop drinking or eating. However, if misery spirals down drastically enough for dry heaves to kick in, you may be en route to serious dehydration. Weakness from lack of calories may complicate the situation. Try to keep hydrated with sports drinks or water, even if you can only keep them down for a short while. Fluids are quickly absorbed, as are liquid calories. Managing this cycle is very important to feeling better. Energy bars, get into your system quickly and can really help.

Anxiety can bring on seasickness. How many times have we jumped on a boat stressed to the max only to find that a challenging sail may actually put our tired, stressed souls over the edge? Anxiety can make a person more susceptible to seasickness, and worrying about hurling definitely makes it worse.

Fear goes hand in hand with anxiety. Remember: If your spouse, child or friend wants to sail, but has had bad experiences with seasickness, don’t push them. Pick a couple of bluebird days to get them out, make sure they have adequate seasickness protection, and let them know you’re willing to run back to the dock should they start to feel poorly or scared. It is definitely possible to reverse seasickness fear and anxiety, but you have to be patient. Much of the battle is won by having confidence in the medications and prevention steps.

There are many options and strategies to cope with seasickness. Several effective prescription medications work well when tested ahead and taken at the proper time. Nonprescription medications, alternative herbal medications, ginger and wristbands all provide relief to some and can be used together. Diet is important, avoiding alcohol, too much caffeine or meals that are difficult to digest and greasy. Taken together, this information should help take the misery out of sailing while seasick.