Motion sickness relief wristbands any good?
October 15, 2007 5:34 AM   Subscribe

A friend of mine wants a motion sickness relief wristband for her birthday. I find myself a little dubious. Does anyone have experience with them?

All the internet reviews I have found may not be entirely objective, since they're on sites trying to get you to buy them, and the one academic study I found is not in the most reputable of journals. Alternately, is there a better motion sickness relief band?
posted by Comrade_robot to Health & Fitness (36 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I used a much cheaper version that just had a pointy nub you positioned right between two nerves (or on a nerve? Can't remember) for when I'm out on a boat on a bad day for work. They did make a difference, though I also was eating lots of lemon candy whenever I felt nauseous, so it may have been a combination. Can't speak for this fancy version, though.
posted by olinerd at 5:37 AM on October 15, 2007

Oh, and to clarify, on the scale of seasickness, I went from "I think I may throw up; I need to get above decks right this moemnt" to "I won't throw up but please don't feed me anything right now just in case." So it wasn't any radical change from violent vomiting to comfort and happiness. YMMV, I suppose.
posted by olinerd at 5:38 AM on October 15, 2007

See Mythbusters Episode #43. Granted, they didn't test multiple bands, but Ginger pills did seem to be true, so your friend would be better off with those.

I do wonder about Ginger based smells though. They didn't test that, and a deodorizer would be less cumbersome than taking a pill.
posted by jwells at 5:39 AM on October 15, 2007

Mythbusters did a pretty hands on evaluation of the various anti-seasickness tricks out there - including bands. On the basis of their conclusion you would be better off with ginger in some form or other. The advantage of this would be that you could give her something that also appeared to be a more normal birthday present - such as some pickled ginger slices. You are supposed to take 1-4 grams per day starting 12-24 hours before you go to sea.
posted by rongorongo at 5:44 AM on October 15, 2007 [1 favorite]

my wife bought one of these wristbands thingys from the uk chemist chain boots (iirc it was their own brand). it cost a fraction of the one you link to. she swore by it. i think she used it on aircraft primarily, but the biggest test of it was on a long distance bus journey. it passed. ymmv.
posted by iboxifoo at 5:56 AM on October 15, 2007

We tried the bands with our kids. They didn't work for us at all. Ginger didn't work for us either. We've found the Bonine works very well, and doesn't knock the kids out the way Dramamine will.
posted by COD at 6:04 AM on October 15, 2007 [1 favorite]

As with so many things, this may work for some people and not for others. I got a similar device (a "reliefband" - don't know if they still make those) for my sister, when she was suffering from such terrible morning sickness that she was on the verge of being hospitalized. She had tried everything else under the sun, including prescription drugs, and nothing worked, but this gave her some relief.

After she had the baby, I appropriated the band for myself, because I am prone to severe motion sickness on airplanes (and nowhere else, oddly enough). For years I have taken dramamine, which allowed me to get through most (but not all) flights without vomiting but which left me feeling extremely doped up. I was still sick at times, but usually had enough warning to get to the bathroom. And, even with the dramamine, I had to be careful not to turn around too quickly, because that would immediately make me nauseous. I mention these unpleasant details because of the contrast once I started using the reliefband. I've used it for the last three years, and (knock on wood), have been absolutely fine on every flight.

Of course, it may be the placebo effect. But then, your friend might experience the placebo effect too. And real motion sickness is a terrible thing (not fully appreciated by those who have never experienced it), so it's worth trying almost anything.
posted by Dolukhanova at 6:05 AM on October 15, 2007

I think ginger works better (I usually eat candied ginger -- which can be part of a nice gift), but like olinerd, I've used those wristbands with a bead that pushes against the nerves in your wrist. I think they work a little bit. It might have made the difference between brief nausea to actual up-chucking. But mainly, I think it was slightly uncomfortable to wear, and I kept readjusting it so it would stay in place, which may have just distracted me from being sick.
posted by bluefly at 6:06 AM on October 15, 2007

May have been a placebo, but the super-cheap-drugstore version of the bands worked wonders for me on long overseas flights. Seems like results are mixed, but it's worth a try.
posted by Rallon at 6:06 AM on October 15, 2007

I have the cheapie version called SeaBands and they do absolutely nothing save for acting as an ugly fashion accessory. But eating a lot of pickled or candied ginger did help. YMMV.
posted by sephira at 6:13 AM on October 15, 2007

My wife switched from dramamine and bonine to the low cost sea bands. They work for her and cost around $10.
posted by SteveInMaine at 6:22 AM on October 15, 2007

It probably isn't medicinal or magical, but since it's motion sickness that you're trying to avoid, it probably has the effect of making the wearer concentrate on it instead of on feeling bad. Thinking of being sick compounds being sick, so pitching it to the gullible as a talisman may have some merit. It could have been a rabbit's foot or a gourd or shiny statue, as long as it's tactile and present and keeps you distracted.
posted by cmiller at 6:29 AM on October 15, 2007

My mom, who is uber-skeptical about non-traditional remedies, swears by the generic versions of these wristbands. She travels a fair amount, has always been prone to motion-sickness, and will recommend these bands to anyone. Maybe it's a placebo effect, but as long as it's effective, why not?
posted by bassjump at 6:32 AM on October 15, 2007

I've had a Relief Band for years and have found it very effective. I've used it to stave off nausea from travel and viruses, even the occasional (ahem) results of over indulgence. It feels like intermittent electric shocks to your wrist, but you do get used to it. I've even worn it to bed when feeling ill. My husband has borrowed it for car sickness and also found it effective. I see the company makes a new version now, which I haven't tried. YMMV of course.
posted by cuddles.mcsnuggy at 6:33 AM on October 15, 2007

Its also worth mentioning that the mythbusters test showed how powerful the placebo effect is with motion sickness. So stories of "works great for my wife" are questionable not because they arent true, but because they just may be the manifestation of a placebo.
posted by damn dirty ape at 6:33 AM on October 15, 2007

My ex girlfriend used a cheaper seasickness relief band than the one you're linking to. They definitely helped her. Before she got them she would throw up whenever we would drive more than 30 minutes or so by train and whenever we flew. With the wristbands on she would feel nauseous but not throw up. Placebo effect or not, I would definitely say they work.
posted by sveskemus at 6:42 AM on October 15, 2007

My wife uses the inexpensive ($7 for a pair at Walgreens) wrist bands and then work for her. I suspect it helps their effectiveness if you start out believing they will work.
posted by roue at 6:42 AM on October 15, 2007

The cheapo $10 versions got me through an Alaska cruise with my mom. I wouldn't spend the money for those pricey ones, but maybe get her a gift that has the cheaper ones plus some kind of ginger, and then you'll have all the bases covered.
posted by MsMolly at 6:42 AM on October 15, 2007

If she believes in them I bet it will work--not because it's working but because of the placebo effect. Notice how they work on all the adults in these anecdotes, but not the kids who presumably did not purchase the bands and weren't putting a ton of psychological stock in them.
posted by schroedinger at 6:44 AM on October 15, 2007

The Mythbusters tested magnetized and electric bands - simple pressure bands, in my experience, are of some value.
posted by Dasein at 6:45 AM on October 15, 2007

My dad gets severe motion sickness (and anxiety over getting sick) and has tried pretty much everything on the planet. He has one of these, and though it doesn't stop him from getting nauseous he won't quit wearing it, so it helps a little. It gives him a pretty bad headache, though, and doesn't do anything to stop the anxiety.

Why don't you get her the cheaper version from drug stores plus some ginger pills?
posted by lilac girl at 6:46 AM on October 15, 2007

I've got two generic bands and they eliminated my sickness.
posted by fire&wings at 6:46 AM on October 15, 2007

There are a couple of peer reviewed articles about these bands. The ones I can find all suggest there is no effect under double blind experimental conditions:
Efficacy of Acupressure and Acustimulation Bands for the Prevention of Motion Sickness
posted by roofus at 6:50 AM on October 15, 2007

Ginger in any form doesn't work for me, the bands do. However, at least for me, they only work up to a certain point. I get ridiculously sea-sick, and the bands can stop me from throwing up whilst I'm travelling on calm waters. If the sea gets even a little choppy I have my head in a foil-lined bag in about two seconds.

I don't use them any more because of the inefficiency of them, I'd rather pop a couple of pills and know I won't vomit (though I still get queasy), than spend most of my time up on deck, shivering from the cold.

Get her the cheap ones, if they don't work for her the expensive ones aren't going to either.
posted by esilenna at 6:52 AM on October 15, 2007

The pressure point wrist bands did not work for me. I went on a cruise this year that passed through waters just after a storm did and the choppiness resulted in about half the ship getting sick, myself included. The band didn't help me at all, from what I could tell.

I had seen the Mythbusters episode previously mentioned and was desperate for ginger-anything (except Ale which also didnt' help me), but, alas, the ship had none.
posted by at 6:56 AM on October 15, 2007

Every answer is the best answer! We're all winners!
posted by jjg at 7:12 AM on October 15, 2007 [6 favorites]

I am a little confused. If your friend asked for them, even if there effectiveness is dubious at best, why not just get them?

Give 'em what they want.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 7:16 AM on October 15, 2007 [1 favorite]

posted by JohnnyGunn at 7:16 AM on October 15, 2007

Oh, just for that, jjg doesn't get his answer marked as best answer!

Part of it is because I am a graduate student, and $80 is not exactly chump change. If it were something that worked fantastically well and would be used every day, I would consider it. If it is going to be worn once by someone who then realizes that it doesn't work and chucks it into a drawer, well, that kind of sucks for everybody involved, doesn't it?
posted by Comrade_robot at 7:41 AM on October 15, 2007

I relied heavily on the (cheap) wristbands on a major recent trip (bus, plane, car) and they worked for me.

But your last comment bears noting--if this is what she is asking for for her birthday, it doesn't matter what you think of it or how much it will be used in the future. It's what she wants and it will make her happy to receive. If the cost is too much, ask for other suggestions. Otherwise, it's a gift--it's for her satisfaction, not yours.
posted by wallaby at 7:56 AM on October 15, 2007

Wow, it's like when I was named Time's Person of the Year in here.
posted by Justinian at 8:01 AM on October 15, 2007

Just to add a couple more things:

A friend swore by the bands while pregnant. They did not work for my wife.

Bonine is awesome, but unlike some other mefites, it knocks me out cold.
posted by 4ster at 8:10 AM on October 15, 2007

I recommended them in another post. They work miraculously for me.
posted by meerkatty at 8:57 AM on October 15, 2007

The pilots in my family always carry several of them in the planes, and strap them on passengers at the first hint of greenness. For some it works, for some it's too annoying to keep on properly, and for some it doesn't do much at all, but it's always worth trying if it can keep your plane from smelling like puke.
posted by acorncup at 10:18 AM on October 15, 2007

I have several friends/family members who swear by the cheap pressure point wristbands from the drug store for seasickness and morning sickness.
posted by thejanna at 11:51 AM on October 15, 2007

in case you want to try a cheaper remedy, or do a "seasick collection" kind of gift, chewable ginger gravol lozenges work for me (and they taste nice). so does cold coca-cola in glass bottles (but not cans or plastic bottles).
posted by twistofrhyme at 4:24 PM on October 15, 2007

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