The information provided here is not a replacement for a doctor. You shouldn't use it for the purpose of self-diagnosing or self-medicating but rather so you can have a more informed discussion with a professional TCM practitioner.
Possible causes and remedies:
In Chinese Medicine, motion sickness can be associated with three so-called "patterns of disharmony". Chinese Medicine sees the body as a system, not a sum of isolated parts. A "pattern" is when the system's harmony is disrupted. It is not equivalent to the Western concept of "disease", as a matter of fact here motion sickness can be caused by three different patterns.
To understand whether someone's motion sickness might be caused by a given pattern, one needs to look for signs and symptoms associated with the pattern beyond what one might typically experience from motion sickness alone. For instance when motion sickness is caused by the pattern Phlegm, patients also experience symptoms such as chest pressure, nausea, dizziness and feeling of heaviness. Similarly, patients with Phlegm typically exhibit slippery (Hua) or wiry (Xian) pulses as well as a tongue with sticky coating, thick coating.
We've listed below a description of the three patterns associated with motion sickness so that you can start to get an understanding of the various possibilities according to Chinese Medicine.
Once identified, patterns are often treated using herbal formulas. Drinking herbal infusions is the most common remedy in Chinese Medicine, together with acupuncture. Here we detail below Wu Ling San, a formula that can help treat the patterns Phlegm, Spleen Deficiency with Dampness and Phlegm in the Lower Burner.
Pulse type(s): Slippery (Hua), Wiry (Xian)
Tongue coating: Sticky coating, Thick coating
Tongue shape: Swollen
Phlegm has a great importance in Chinese Medicine as it is both a condition in and of itself as well as a cause for other diseases.
The main cause for the formation of Phlegm is Spleen Deficiency since the Spleen rules the transformation and transportation of Body Fluids. If this function is impaired, Body Fluids accumulates and change into Phlegm.
The Lungs and Kidneys may also be involved since they each play a role in handling body Fluids: the Lungs disperse and descend Body Fluids while the Kidneys transform and excrete them. Again, if they fail to perform those roles, Body Fluids will accumulate and become Phlegm.
That being said, the Spleen malfunction is the fundamental reason behind the formation of Phlegm and, as such, treatments will focus on it first and foremost.
There are two broad types of Phlegm: so-called "Substantial Phlegm" and "Non-Substantial Phlegm". Simply put, Substantial Phlegm can be seen, such as sputum in the Lungs and throat. Non-Substantial Phlegm is more hidden and will manifest itself into, for instance, kidney stones, gallstones or arthritic bone deformities.
Phlegm can further be categorized according to its nature: there is Damp-Phlegm, Phlegm-Heat, Cold-Phlegm, etc.
Lastly, there is a type of Phlegm called "Phlegm-Fluids". It is very similar to Dampness and is very watery and thin. It can be heard splashing in the body, found usually in the Stomach, Intestines, hypochondrium, limbs or above the diaphragm.
The Spleen is a so-called "Zang" Organ. Learn more about the Spleen in Chinese Medicine
Recommended herbal formula: Wu Ling San
Motion sickness might be due to Spleen Deficiency with Dampness if the condition is paired with typical pattern symptoms such as edema, general sensation of heaviness, diarrhea and urinary difficulty.
The Triple Burner is a so-called "Fu" Organ. Learn more about the Triple Burner in Chinese Medicine
Recommended herbal formula: Wu Ling San
Source date: 220 AD
Number of ingredients: 5 herbs
Key actions: Promotes urination,. Warms the Yang. Strengthens the Spleen. Promotes Qi transformation function. Drains Dampness. Clears edema.
Because it is a formula often recommended to help with the patterns Phlegm, Spleen Deficiency with Dampness and Phlegm in the Lower Burner which are sometimes associated with motion sickness. If any of these patterns look like something you might suffer from, this formula might help (although please seek confirmation with a professional practitioner beforehand).