Tips for beating sea/motion sickness

Here are a few tips on beating sea/motion sickness

Repeated motion can cause a disturbance of the inner ear that leads some people to feel unwell. This is due a change in a person's equilibrium and sense of balance

Anyone can develop motion sickness, even the most experienced of sailors from time to time. A lack of good sleep after partying too hard, a few alcoholic drinks the night before and a fried breakfast sound like a good time to most, but can backfire out on the open seas. Sea sickness mainly affects children, pregnant women and people that suffer migraines the most but natural precautions are at hand for sensitive folks. Are any of you out there lovers of Asian food? Many remedies can be found in 1 dish for a simple and tasty fix prior to sailing.

One a good note, 75% of people that will become acclimated to the sea and are naturally cured of the affliction. For the 25% of people that just cannot get there bodies adjusted to the roll of the seas. We recommend that you look for other and more fulfilling pastimes, as if I were to amend the description of misery in the dictionary, it would simply say "seasickness"  

Symptoms of sea sickness are the same as the symptoms suffered from car sickness and turbulence caused from air travel. 

Symptoms caused by motion sickness are:

  • Vomiting
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness
  • Sweating
  • A general feeling of feeling unwell 

It may be impossible to prevent sea/motion sickness at the time as choppy seas with a lot of waves, combined with a lack of wind can accelerate the process significantly.

In all cases, prevention is much better than cure, as a cure when the inevitable has happened is extremely hard to find. Our prevention tips are as follows:

1. Food consumption. Eat a light meal prior to sailing, without much spice or fat rich foods. With the obvious being avoiding alcohol and other diuretic drinks, as they help to release salt and water from the body that ends up causing dehydration. In looking for the right foods, we need to find the foods that contain high antihistamine properties. Histamine is an organic compound inside us all that acts as a neurotransmitter. Excessive release of these neurotransmitters is what causes the nauseous feeling that leads to vomiting. 

  • Fruit such as apples, bananas, peaches, capers and pomegranate are easy foods to incorporate into a diet before and during a sailing trip. These fruits contain flavonoids such as Quercetin, this is a natural antihistamine that helps stabilize mast cells to prevent both the manufacture and release of histamine as well as other allergic and inflammatory compounds.
  • Vegetables such as watercress, pea sprouts, broccoli, garlic and onion can be cooked into dishes a day or 2 before sailing. They also have many other good properties to ensure a healthy diet. Watercress is considered one of the most nutrient dense plants commonly available. 
  • Herbs such as basil, thyme, tarragon, chamomile, nettle, nigela seeds and pepermint are also potent antihistamines. One of the most effective herbs is moringa. Classed as a super-food moringa inhibits 72% of histamine released. These herbs are also some of the highest anti-oxidant food sources amongst herbs.
  • Rhizomes are subterranean stems of plants that are usually found underground sending out roots and shoots from it's nodes. These are foods like tumeric, galangal, lotus root and last but not least ginger.  Ginger is the winner here for most people as it has traditionally been used as a H2 inhibitor. and can be taken in many forms. 
Raw Ginger Root

Raw Ginger Root

Ginger can be taken in many forms to make this a simple prevention for sea sickness. For different ways on how to incorporate this into your diet prior to sailing, I recommend that you read this very useful article by the motion sickness guru. It goes into the finer details on the forms that ginger can be taken such as raw ginger root, powder, tablet and capsules, candy, biscuits and real ginger ale. 

This must be in your system at least 2 hours prior to sailing so it can have the best affect. We find that ginger candy, biscuits and tea are good ways to consume ginger whilst out sailing whilst providing much needed energy and hydration. Although some of the suggestions for ginger intake can seem contradictory as they contain high sugar levels. It is important to remember the ancient roman philosopher Lucretius's saying that goes "One man's meat is another man's poison".

2. Choosing a good position to travel in. Going below deck maybe the first thing you want to do so that you can go hide in a corner and pray for the sick feeling to dissipate, but it is also the worst thing you can do. All this does is increase the disorientated feeling as there isn't a horizon to look for and will feel like you have just jumped into a washer machine on full cycle.

As we sail around we like to encourage the experience of sailing first hand, so this gives us the opportunity to introduce someone new to the helm. By taking the helm under guided instruction this will assist the person feeling unwell by helping to win their own battle of mind over matter. By keeping to a certain course and by fixating the line of sight onto a point on the horizon will reduce the mixed up signals caused by histamines to the brain.

If the colour green has already appeared on the victims face then taking the helm maybe a little too late and the concentration to steer the boat may not be there within. Our next trick is to assist the victim so that they are lying down in the area of the boat that moves the least on deck. On our Rival sailing boat it is best to lie down on your back either within the cockpit a bench that is on the downwind side or on the teak deck, central and by the shrouds. By being in one of these 2 areas, it stops the victim from rolling around to much or falling off the bench, or even worse from falling overboard. Again we take away some of the mixed up messages caused by the release of histamines by eliminating some of the rolling effect. The up and down effect will still be felt and noticeable but the nauseous feeling should be gone after a short time. Some of our crew and associates have experienced their best sleeps and periods of relaxation by laying down with nothing but the sound of the seas for company.