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Homeopathy and motion sickness

A discouraged moment
A few months ago I was sitting in the Phoenix airport waiting for my plane to board. A man and woman sat not far away. "Do you think you should be drinking coffee after taking that Dramamine?" the woman asked. "I don't know and I don't care," the man irritably responded as he rose and proceeded down the concourse, apparently looking for a cup. The woman went with him, bickering as they walked along.
     It had been so long since I even heard of this anti-motion-sickness drug that I had forgotten people even take it. I found myself looking around at the other travelers. There were hundreds up and down the concourse and there were numerous concourses in this one terminal. And three other terminals at this one airport. And who knows how many similar airports around the country, all teeming with travelers, many of whom were doubtless taking the same drugs for motion sickness. Somehow the thought dismayed me, and I felt that my efforts over the years to teach others to live naturally, to use safe and non-toxic medicines, were all in vain.
     Then I remembered a story I had just heard a few days before at a meeting, and reflecting on it in the airport gave me some measure of encouragement. I resolved at that time to do a column on motion sickness. But first, here is the story as I remember it.

An inspiring tale
A group of teenage boys went to the ocean and found that a large storm had washed millions of fish up onto the beach. The beach was covered with fish as far as the eye could see, all of them flopping about in a rapidly disappearing puddle. It was quite obvious the fish were all doomed to die.
     The youths then noticed one man standing by the edge of the water, quietly picking up fish, one at a time, and throwing them into the sea. They approached the man. "What are you doing?" they asked. "You can't save these fish. Look at them, there are millions and in just a few minutes the sun will have killed them." The man looked at the boys and then at the fish. He bent down, picked up another, and threw it into the sea.
     The boys felt exasperated. "Hey," they said. "Don't you get it? You are wasting your time. What you are doing doesn't make any difference." The man looked once again at them, bent down, picked up one more fish and threw it into the sea. "It makes a difference to that fish," he replied and continued to save as many fish as he could, one at a time.

Homeopathy in motion sickness
Cocculus indicus: This is one of the most commonly indicated remedies for motion sickness. The patient feels nauseated from riding in boats or cars and sometimes even feels the nausea just looking at something in motion. There may be a heavy, stupid feeling to the mind. There may be associated dizziness or a metallic taste to the mouth.
     Tabacum: This is homeopathic tobacco. As Tom Sawyer found out while camping on an island in the middle of the Mississippi River with Huckleberry Finn, tobacco can cause a severe form of nausea. And what it can cause, in small homeopathic dilutions, it can cure. The nausea of patients needing Tabacum is generally more severe than that of Cocculus; in fact, it is sometimes described as a deathly nausea. The patient feels wretched, with a faint, sinking feeling in the stomach. There may be vomiting caused by slight motion. The patient is often cold with a pale face and cold sweat.
     Bryonia: The grand keynote of this remedy, worse from any movement, is true in motion sickness. The patient is usually irritable with a coated tongue. The patient may feel dry and thirsty and often has an associated headache.
     Nux Vomica: Consider Nux if the patient is very irritable and oversensitive to noise, light, odors, etc. They probably won't want to be touched. They will often have an associated constipation with an ineffectual urging (i.e., they feel like they need to go, but can't, or can only go a little bit).
     Colchicum: The patient is prostrated with a sense of coldness in the stomach. The odor of any food disgusts and nauseates the patient and may make them feel faint.

Don't forget the ginger
Ginger is effective to both prevent and treat motion sickness. It can be taken in just about any form: powdered in capsules, the fresh root, or even in drinks or cookies (as long as it is real ginger, not just artificial ginger flavoring). I have heard that it is effective in homeopathic doses in motion sickness, although I don't have personal experience using it this way. If you want to get the homeopathic form of ginger remember that it is called Zingiber.

The 30C or 30X potencies available in most stores that sell homeopathic remedies should work just fine. Simply give a few pellets (2 or 3 is enough) under the tongue every 5 to 15 minutes until the patient feels relief. Then repeat the remedy as needed thereafter.

Prevention and travel prep
I recommend people carry a small homeopathic kit with them when they travel. If you don't have a kit and just want to carry a few remedies for motion sickness, I would recommend Cocculus, Tabacum, and perhaps some form of ginger. Most patients, in my experience, will be helped with one of these. If you want to take a remedy preventively, try a remedy that seems to closely match the type of motion sickness you experience. If you are not sure, then try the Cocculus indicus. Take a few pellets an hour or two before traveling and as needed during the trip.

A note from the editor:
While discussing motion sickness with a long-time homeopathic physician a number of years ago, he made the distinction that, in his experience, the aggravation in Cocculus is from a side to side motion, while that of Tabacum is from a forward and back motion. He mentioned that he had once taken Cocculus for something that was not connected to motion sickness, and then made his way home on the rush-hour subway where he found himself standing, holding onto a strap. The train was rocking from side to side, and he suddenly found himself in the throes of a Cocculus proving. He was relieved to exit the train and get his feet on solid ground.— JW

About the author:
Dr. Timothy R. Dooley is a graduate of National College of Naturopathic Medicine as well as Oregon Health Sciences University School of Medicine. He practices homeopathy in San Diego, California, and teaches at the Southwest College of Naturopathic Medicine and Health Sciences. He is the author of the easy-to-read introductory book, Homeopathy: Beyond Flat Earth Medicine. The complete text can be read on-line at For more information, visit He can be reached at (619) 297-8641 or