Have you ever wondered why we get carsick? The answer is a lot deeper than potholes.

How much deeper? Well, you get carsick because your brain assumes it’s being poisoned. That’s what neuroscientist and ‘Idiot Brain’ author Dean Burnett says.

You see, for thousands of years we didn’t travel much faster than our own two feet could take us. As a result, the human thalamus – the part of the brain that processes motion – became tuned to those speeds. So, when running or walking, your brain feels in sync with your body’s speed. This allows your vision and other senses to match. But when you throw an automobile into the mix, things get dicey.

Burnett says:

“What’s happening there is the brain’s getting mixed signals. It’s getting signals from the muscles and the eyes saying we are still and signals from the balance sensors saying we’re in motion.

Both of these cannot be correct. There’s a sensory mismatch there. And in evolutionary terms, the only thing that can cause a sensory mismatch like that is a neurotoxin or poison.”

And what does your brain do when it thinks it’s being poisoned? It tries to get rid of that poison – hence, the nausea and desire to vomit.

What To Do About Carsickness


…aside from vomiting, of course.

Of course, motion sickness applies to any form of high-speed transportation; ditching cars and buying a transit pass isn’t going to save you.

So what can you do?

One of the things Burnett recommends is looking out the window instead of trying to use your phone or reading a book.

‘You can see the passage and the movement going by,” he says. “The brain’s going – oh, look, things moving – I must be moving – and then sort of calms down the sickness response.”

There are also some natural remedies for car sickness. Here are a few.

#1 – Acupressure


In 1995, researchers actually discovered that the wrists contain acupressure points that can relieve motion sickness. There are wristbands designed for this very purpose. You can also perform this trick on your own by pressing on your inner arm three finger widths down from your wrist.

#2 – Ginger

According to Dr. Weil, mixing half a teaspoon of ginger powder in a glass of water and drinking it 20 minutes before travel can prevent motion sickness.

Of course, Dr. Weil wasn’t the one who discovered this; people have been using ginger to relieve and prevent nausea for thousands of years.

If you haven’t got the time to prepare a ginger drink, consider keeping ginger cookies or candy with you. That’ll provide you with some quick relief!

Do you experience motion sickness? Have you got any tricks for combating it? Drop us a note in the comments!

Check out this video for some more tips for preventing motion sickness!

Dr. Weil
Idiot Brain