ReliefBand for motion sickness--anybody here used it?

I’ve always had this problem, and it seems to get worse as I get older; but for an almost free cruise to Tahiti (a cousin won the trip & asked me along) I can learn to live with the wooziness which is my major symptom, even though it can take a week or so to disappear after the trip is over. Dramamine & Meclizine both help keep nausea at bay, and those accupressure bands either kinda work or I think they do (in which case they do), but I always have some amount of the dizziness. Ten days is long time of pretty constant motion, and I’d love to be able to walk and turn corners without my head always sloshing.

I’ve seen ads for ReliefBand, essentially a small TENS unit, and it look good though pricey ($65+ for disposable, $125+ for reusable, from Worth every penny if it works, of course. Have any of you used this product, and would you recommend it? And, since it’s intended for use against nausea&vomiting, would it necessarily work to mitigate the swimmy head feeling?

The reliefband is snake oil, totally worthless. If you really need motion sickness relief, ask your doctor for a scrip for transdermal scopolamine. It’s a patch about an inch in diameter, you wear it on your skin behind your ear, and it’s a lot cheaper than snake oil. It is quite effective, I tried em. But do NOT attempt to drive if you wear the transderm-scop patch, I did and I almost crashed my car because I couldn’t sense motion at ALL. Transderm-scop was specifically designed for longterm relief like ocean voyages, you can wear the patch for prolonged periods, IIRC, it wears out after 48 hours (or 4 hours after you take it off).

Got a cite for that, Chas.E? Now, I’m about as skeptical of alternative medicine as any mainstream western physician, but the info in the literature I’ve seen indicates it may work better than placebo (which effect I still believe in, despite a recent, deeply flawed study saying otherwise). Why does it work? I don’t know. But part of being a good scientist is respecting the data. Would I go out and buy one? No, I’d probably use the patch too, but the wife wants a non-pharmacological alternative.

I refer to the TENS unit-type sea band here, I’m not aware of much good data on the other type, although some retailers claim it exists.

There’s no good treatment that I’m aware of for the actual vertigo, or dizziness. AFAIK, dramamine, scopolomine, and the tens unit reduce the nausea component only.


Qadgop, you’re a doctor and your wife would prefer to stay away from pharmaceuticals??? Give me a minute while I absorb the irony…


Regarding the transderm scopolamine patch: would Joe Physician, MD, just give any ol’ patient who asked a script for this drug? I’ve always thought that a physician would only do this in a worst-case scenario. You know, someone who had bad side effects from OTC remedies, etc.

Frankly, the patch is probably safer than most over-the-counter remedies, just as the prescription anti-allergy meds (allegra, claritin) are safer than the OTCs. They’re generally less sedating, for one thing. Unless there’s a clear contra-indication to using the patch, I’d be inclined to give it. The great thing about it is; if you get bad side-effects from it, you just take it off! Try offloading your dose of dramamine if the side-effects are too severe for you.

rather than spending money on the patches find the acupressure points and put pressure on them.
those sea-bands worked for me.

alternatively. lie in the EXACT centre of the ship. don’t move. not for anything, except bathroom breaks. and eat ginger. it works too.

i can’t take anti-histamines (rather than drowsiness, they knock me unconscious) and those are the only things that do.

According to, the TENS is only approved by the FDA for pain relief (and this is a rather dubious claim as well). If you’re buying it from someone who sells it for anti-nausea, they’re doing so in direct violation of FDA regs. Thus, they are a quack.

Transderm-scop does prevent vertigo and dizziness. The patch is applied directly behind the ear, and the scopolomine acts on the inner ear’s vestibular organs. As far as I know, it has no effect on nausea except to prevent it from happening by blocking objectionable motion sensations. In my personal experience, I couldn’t feel any motion whatsoever.

Using something for purposes other than what the FDA approved it for does not constitute quackery, Chas. It’s done all the time in medicine. Prozac and Luvox were used successfully for years for OCD before the FDA approved it for that purpose, but those prescribers were not labeled quacks. Without off-label prescribing, we would have nothing to offer people for dozens of different diseases.

I feel like I’m arguing about whether the pope’s catholic here. I do not push alternate therapies, I like my studies controlled and double-blinded, I believe in the scientific method, but if preliminary evidence indicates something may be effective, I suspend judgement on whether it’s a scam or not until more data is available!

And I’m glad transderm-scop keeps you from getting vertiginous, Chas. That’s not the experience for most users; vertigo remains, but nausea is reduced or eliminated.

Qadgop, MD

BTW, here’s the link referring to the study which showed the TENS unit reduced the severity of the nausea in chemotherapy patients. In my experience, ain’t noone more queasy than a chemo patient, although sea-sickness patients come in a close second.

Apparently the FDA subsequently approved the device for over-the-counter sales without prescription for use in relieving the symptoms of motion sickness, though a prescription is still required for use in cases of morning sickness or for chemotherapy and post-op patients.

Yeah, but it rather defeats the whole purpose of a cruise… I agree ginger can help.

Which is exactly what I did the first time I used one! About 30 minutes after I put it WHAM! I was hit with intense dizziness, clamminess and nausea. Read the insert’s description of side-effects, which were the same as motion sickness, so I took the patch off and was MUCH better; except I sloshed for 3 weeks. Granted, that was 18 years ago and it’s been re-formulated. Info I’ve seen says the patch can be used up to 3 days at a time. Does this mean per individual patch and then put on a new one, or 3 days use, period? Not much help for the 4th day and beyond, in that case.
QUOTE]*Originally posted by Qadgop the Mercotan *

There’s no good treatment that I’m aware of for the actual vertigo, or dizziness. AFAIK, dramamine, scopolomine, and the tens unit reduce the nausea component only. **

Sigh… I was afraid of that.

I guess I’ll defer to trained medical judgement if they say TENS is useful for off-label usage. Still, I think the transderm-scop is worth a try, it’s fairly cheap.

My personal remedy for motion sickness is to keep your eye on the horizon. There is something calming about the horizon, helps your vestibular sense. Much of your sense of balance is visual, keeping your eyes still on a fixed horizon helps a lot.

There was a young lady in Spain,
who was sick as she rode on a train,
not once but again,
and again and again,
and again and again and again!

I get badly motionsick on boats that are bobbing more than a little bit. I don’t seem to get motionsick on planes, though. Possibly I’m just used to planes. Since I’ve been on a boat all of three times in my life that I can remember, maybe I’m just not used to it.

Also, I went skydiving two weekends ago, and got motionsick - AFTER the parachute popped. The jump out of the plane was fine, and the free-fall felt great - no problems at all. But as soon as the chute deployed and we were gliding, I got the urge to puke. The parachute instructor I was clipped to (tandem jump) said to look at the horizon. This helped a little bit; I still felt quite queasy, but the urge to actually vomit went down some. It’s as if my brain kept hearing the “whoah, we’re swinging back and fourth and feeling really weird here” messages from my inner ear, but had an easier time ignoring them because of the visual reinforcement.

I say this all as background to the following…

I have a theory as to why some people get motionsick and some don’t. And I think it nicely accounts for my experience. I came up with it while pondering why some people get motion-sick playing certain video games. Doom, Quake, or Descent in particular. I never do, but I know people who get very dizzy from them. Descent seems particularly bad because there is really no obvious “up”
in the game - you are in a weightless environment and you may position your ship (and thus your viewpoint) in any orientation relative to the tunnels you are navigating through with no positive or negative effects. Usually, people end up just randomly picking one wall as treating it as the “floor” until it becomes inconvenient to do so. Then they switch their definition of “floor.”

Anyway, my theory. Basically, I think everyone gets a certain amount of their sense of balance from their eyes (looking at the horizon or stationary objects) and a certain amount from their inner ear. Those of us who get more of it from the inner ear can play video games with confusing visual orientation, no problem. Our brain listens more to our inner ear, which is telling it, “You’re sitting straight up ans stationary in a chair, playing a video game.” But, the downside is that if we’re in a situation where we’re moving around a lot in an irregular way (paragliding, small boat in rough seas, car twisting through the mountains), even if there’s a good visual orientation, our brain still feels mostly like we’re unbalanced due to the inner ear dominating our sense of balance. People who balance more visually have the opposite problem - even sitting still, if their visual orientation changes suddenly, they get dizzy.
I’m sorry, I know this doen’t help with your dilemma. And I too an skeptical of those bracelets that claim to cure motion sickness. I suspect their effect is mostly psychological. (Which is fine, actually. If you don’t think you’re dizzy or motionsick, maybe you aren’t. Or you won’t notice it nearly as much. Placebo effect is real, and as a famous signature line goes, some effect is much better than no effect at all.)

The only solace I can give you is that I’ve read that when brand new sailors go onboard a ship, it usually takes them about two weeks of puking before they “get their sea legs.” This doesn’t help you, of course. You’re just starting to get used to it right as the cruise ends. I guess you could try spending a fair amount of time on some fishing boats in the two weeks prior to the cruise to try and pre-acclimate your brain?

I get sea sick on boats and the band does nothing for me but I know people for whom it does work…