News & Perspectives

High-Tech Help for Motion and Morning Sickness
Next time that rush of queasiness starts to spoil your sailing trip, don't head for shore. Instead, adjust the setting on your ReliefBand. This small, battery-powered product, worn on the underside of the wrist and resembling a watch, is the first FDA-approved, commercially available device to treat nausea and vomiting induced by motion sickness, pregnancy, or chemotherapy. The ReliefBand offers an appealing alternative to nausea-fighting medications: It's noninvasive, drug-free, and the only side effect appears to be an occasional irritation of the skin around the wrist. No wonder it's popular with pilots, who can't take standard motion sickness drugs because they can cause drowsiness and pupil dilation.

How It Works
The ReliefBand emits low-level electrical pulses that stimulate the P6 acupuncture point on the underside of the wrist. A 1996 medical review concluded that stimulating this same site was effective in relieving nausea and vomiting in 11 of 12 well-controlled studies. Most researchers believe the electrical pulses cause the median nerve that runs up the arm to transmit messages to the spinal cord and brain, but precisely how the device achieves its effects is still unknown.

What the Studies Show
When the ReliefBand was tested in nine patients with seasickness, all nine felt better when wearing the device in the correct (versus an inactive) position. In another study the ReliefBand eased symptoms of morning sickness in 91% of pregnant women (compared with 43% of those using a placebo unit). And the band also significantly lowered the severity of nausea after chemotherapy in 42 cancer patients, 92% of whom said they'd recommend the device to other chemotherapy patients.

$80 to $140, depending on the model of ReliefBand. There's a 144-hour disposable unit, and a rechargeable model.

A user first dabs gel on the underside of wrist, then positions the device about an inch above the wrist crease.

Key features
There are five stimulation levels; users can adjust the setting according to arm size or symptom severity.

Patients with demand-type cardiac pacemakers should not use the ReliefBand.

How to obtain
The device is sold over the counter at pharmacies for relief of motion sickness. To treat nausea and vomiting associated with pregnancy or chemotherapy, you should get a doctor's prescription. ReliefBand can also be ordered from the manufacturer (1-800-973-0378;

Waiting for your ReliefBand to arrive? Several herbal remedies may also help. See our library entry on <<>>.

Date Published: 10/23/2000
> Printer-friendly Version Return to Top