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Nausea treatment

Electrical currents can treat motion sickness

In research conducted on 20 patients, applying a mild electrical current to a specific part of the scalp can help lessen motion sickness. 

Source: Imperial College, London (CC BY)

The misery of motion sickness could be ended within five to ten years thanks to a new treatment being developed by scientists at Imperial.

An estimated one in three people suffer from significant motion sickness while travelling, with symptoms such as dizziness, severe nausea and cold sweats. Behavioural and pharmacological treatments are available but are only partially effective.

Now, a study led by researchers from Imperial College London, published in Neurology (online, 4 September 2015)[1], shows that applying a mild electrical current to the scalp – specifically over the left parietal cortex – can help prevent motion sickness and speed recovery from symptoms should they occur. The researchers believe that transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) works by suppressing activity in the brain’s balance system, thereby increasing tolerance to nauseogenic motion stimuli. When tested on 20 healthy volunteers exposed to such stimuli, the treatment had no apparent side effects.

The team are now talking to industry partners about possible field studies and developing the tDCS device further.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2015.20069325

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