Wrist bands for motion sickness: Do they work?

By Robert A. Fried, MD Jun 08, 2022 • 4 min

Motion sickness is a common ailment that can cause bothersome symptoms when traveling by car, air or sea. Many people are now exploring natural remedies for symptoms of motion sickness. Anti-nausea bands offer a natural alternative to medications.

What is an anti-nausea band?

An anti-nausea band is a band that usually has a small, round plastic button. These bands are designed to be worn around the wrists, close to the creases between the end of the forearm and the beginning of the hand, with the button pressing against the skin on the underside of each wrist. Anti-nausea wrist bands are also known by other names, such as motion sickness bracelets, sea sickness bands, travel bands and motion sickness wrist bands. 

How do motion sickness wrist bands work?

The round button on the wrist band presses on an acupressure point that, according to traditional Chinese medicine, can relieve nausea and vomiting, regardless of the cause. You can also choose to press on the specific point for 2–3 minutes with your thumb.

Do wrist bands for nausea work? 

The efficacy of wrist bands for motion sickness is still unclear. Some scientific research studies have investigated whether acupressure helps with nausea and vomiting. More research is needed to understand if using wrist bands for nausea is as effective as standard anti-nausea drugs.

Because many pregnant women prefer nondrug alternatives to manage minor health concerns, there has been interest in the use of nausea bracelets during pregnancy. Although some research indicates that acupressure doesn't help with morning sickness, some women report anti-nausea wrist bands to be helpful. 

Are there side effects of using motion sickness wrist bands?

Side effects associated with motion sickness bands are generally considered to be mild. Local skin reactions, mild discomfort and swollen wrists have been reported in some studies. Follow the product instructions carefully and monitor for any signs of redness or skin breakdown near the wristband. If any skin irritation, pain or swelling occurs, remove the bands immediately.

Acupressure, either done by your own hands or with the help of wrist bands, may or may not help with various kinds of nausea. There are no known risks of trying wrist bands for nausea associated with motion sickness, pregnancy and chemotherapy. 

It's important to talk with your healthcare provider before using over the counter motion sickness medication or alternative or complementary treatments, such as wrist bands for motion sickness.

Published June 2022.

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