Guide to Using CBD for Motion Sickness
CBD is an excellent option for preventing or managing motion sickness because it works on multiple causes of the disorder at the same time.
For starters, it inhibits an enzyme known as fatty acid amide hydrolase (FAAH) — which is responsible for breaking down our endocannabinoids. By blocking this enzyme, we can increase anandamide levels in the brain.
Anandamide activates the endocannabinoid receptors in the nausea center of the brain to alleviate symptoms of motion sickness.
CBD has the added benefit of keeping the SNS from going haywire. This has a compounded advantage of relieving nausea and anxiety — which are closely related and often strike at the same time.
How Much CBD Should I Take?
The first step to treating motion sickness with CBD is to determine the starting dosage. This varies from one person to the next, so it’s important to do some trial and error before locking down a particular daily dose.
Most research involving CBD for motion sickness uses the supplement at high doses. Whether or not we need high doses for the compound to work is still up for debate.
Many people find relief at doses in the medium strength (see chart below), though you may need to try different doses until you find what works for you.
We recommend starting at the smallest dose according to your weight, and increase gradually until you find the relief you need. The medium strength dose seems to work well for reducing motion sickness in many people.
For best results, take the CBD before the motion sickness starts — this can be difficult to predict, but if you frequently experience symptoms on a boat or plane, try taking the CBD dose an hour or so before your scheduled trip.
What Causes Motion Sickness?
The most common cause of motion sickness is an issue with organs inside our ears that help us maintain our balance.
We have a specialized set of organs in each ear that use gravity to tell us which direction is up and down. When we’re in situations that cause this to change frequently — such as being on a moving boat, car, train, or plane — these organs can start to send chaotic messages to the brain.
These organs send signals to the brain that something is not quite right, making us feel nauseous — sometimes strong enough to make us vomit.
We’re still not sure why this happens more frequently in certain people more than others — but there are a few well-known risk factors.
Risk Factors for Motion Sickness:
Vertigo (a condition affecting the balance organs in the ear)
Overactivation of the sympathetic nervous system
History of inner ear infection
Traumatic injuries to the head and ears
One of the most relevant benefits of CBD — regarding motion sickness — is its ability to inhibit the sympathetic nervous system (SNS). This is the side of the nervous system responsible for regulating the stress response.
When we experience stress, the SNS takes charge to prepare us from potential danger by either fighting our way through it or helping us run away. This process is often referred to as the “fight or flight” response.
The SNS causes several distinct changes involved with the fight or flight response:
Heart rate increases
Airways dilate to allow more airflow
Blood sugar levels rise
Immune and digestive function shut down to conserve energy
Blood pressure rises
Brain activity increases
In some people, the SNS activates too early, or with too much intensity for the situation. In other words, it overreacts to the situation at hand.
It appears that when the balance receptors start to send strange feedback to the brain (like the sensations experienced when flying, or on a boat), the brain overreacts by firing the SNS on all cylinders.
Some people experience anxiety, while others will feel motion sickness— some are unfortunate enough to experience both symptoms simultaneously.
Can I Take CBD With Other Anti-Nausea Supplements?
CBD stops motion sickness by regulating regions in the brain responsible for controlling it.
There are other supplements you can use to help stop motion sickness as well; compounding these supplements may yield a greater level of effects.
Other Herbs With Anti-Nausea Benefits:
Ginger (Zingiber officinalis)
Lemon balm (Melissa officinalis)
Chamomile (Matricaria recutita)
Peppermint (Mentha piperita)