Let’s be honest: seasickness is an aspect of the yachting experience that is hard to avoid if you have motion sensitivity. Seasickness is actually an indication of good health and a functioning immune system that is responding to perceived threats. If that is any consolation when you feel like throwing up. It is the body’s immune system working overtime to counterbalance our point of gravity.
It occurs when conflicting information is transmitted to the brain. Your feet sends signals to the brain that they are planted on a firm surface – the deck. Your inner ear sends conflicting data. Your brain senses the rolling movement of the ocean as it struggles to preserve balance. When the brain is confused, the immune system kicks in. The result is sickness as a distress call.
Gravity is experienced by an innate sense. Typically we think of the usual five senses of touch, sight, hearing, taste, and smell. Seasickness is experienced when the body’s sense of gravity is disturbed,
One remedy is to take over-the-counter anti-nausea drugs like Dramamine, Benadryl or Bonine. These drugs work by blocking the messages that your eyes, feet and inner-ears are sending to your brain. These medicines interfere with a natural process. Seasickness is actually the reaction of a healthy body. Drugs should be the last resort. Here are some natural remedies.
Yoga is proven to be beneficial for both body and mind. Yoga exercises such as the Sun Salutation series and Savasana, the dead man’s pose, restore balance. These two positions are simple to learn. The Sun Salutation balances the body’s center of gravity. Savasana aligns the body’s poles to the deck. More challenging poses, also called asanas – such as the sirsasana headstand are best avoided unless you have sufficient yogic flexibility.
Just by closing the eyes for ten minutes, you can focus attention on the third eye which is unaffected by the brain signals that cause seasickness. Meditation allows beta brain waves to predominate. Research has found that beta waves promote a sense of well being and calm. This sense of calm transmits to the immune system that all is OK.
Pranayama is a set of ancient Indian breathing exercises, an aspect of Yoga that is little known in the West. Medical shows that practice for an hour a day for two years can reverse damage to the lungs caused by smoking and pollution. Anecdotal evidence claims that mental issues such as depression, anxiety, even some aspects of Aspergers can be alleviated if not cured. Pranayama is efficient in restoring both physical and mental balance. Alternative nostril breathing works for some people. Kapalbati (the bellows) is also efficient in grounding the body’s sense of gravity and restoring equilibrium, which reduces the sensation of motion sickness.
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Get some fresh air on deck
Just by being on deck, the eyes can focus on the horizon. Looking at the horizon helps our eyes correct the signal they are sending to the brain. As the eyes look at the moving horizon, they coordinate the movement of the boat with the information that the inner ear is transmitting. The center of gravity returns to its normal place in the body and the inner ear which registers motion stands down. Panic over.
An empty stomach can aggravate seasickness. If you don’t feel like eating, try ginger. Ginger cookies have two benefits: they get the digestive system working and a property of ginger is that it minimizes the effects of motion sickness.
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Coca-cola and Pepsi contain phosphoric acid and sugars, the very same ingredients you will find in common anti-nausea drugs.
If all fails, grow a beard, grab an electric guitar and play some loud Delta blues, just like Seasick Steve. He makes one hell of a racket.