“Whenever he encountered a seasick sailor, Admiral Nelson, the 19th century British hero at Trafalgar, suggested his own fool-proof remedy: ‘You’ll feel better if you sit under a tree.’ Nelson, who made a few trips to the rail himself, was obviously a funny guy but not everybody shares his sense of humor about seasickness. The same motion–up, down, up, down–that reminds some people of Joseph Conrad reminds others of what they had for lunch. In the almost 200 years since Nelson met his Waterloo, modern medicine hasn’t been able to improve on his tree remedy, but they’re working on it.
For anyone contemplating a bumpy voyage, there are various pills and patches that have been concocted–Dramamine, Marezine, Bonine, Scopolamine (ear patches), etc. These anti-motion drugs all affect the inner ear, which is where seasickness originates before it drops–thud–into the stomach. While some people swear by one or the other of these remedies, there is no one drug that has proven to be ideal for everybody. None of the pills work immediately and all must be taken well before symptoms occur. There is also something called Phenergan, a suppository that is said to be effective when someone is already seasick.
If you are going to try one, you might want to start with Marezine, since it is the least likely to cause drowsiness. Scapolamine is probably the most effective and its effects also last the longest, about 72 hours. It can have some strange side effects, however, and requires a doctor’s prescription. Marezine, Dramamine, and Bonine are antihistamines, which means they can be bought over the counter. Phenergan can also be purchased over the counter.
Many people think of pills or patches as a last resort to fighting motion sickness. One alternative is ginger root powder, which is a seasick remedy that was first brought to our attention by an enthusiastic BoatU.S. member in Washington State. Ginger root powder settles the stomach and has gotten some good press, including a recommendation in Lancet, a well-regarded English medical journal. Ginger root powder capsules are available in health food stores.”
In his book The Human Body, Isaac Asimov related the anecdote about a seasick passenger whom a steward cheerfully assured that nobody ever died from seasickness. The passenger muttered, “Please–it’s only the hope of dying that’s keeping me alive.”
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