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For a rally co-driver, there's nothing worse than motion sickness. But there are ways that you can overcome, or reduce its impact. Caroline van der Mey is a natural therapy expert, and is also married to a co-driver. She gives us her 'best practices' for getting on top of car sickness. * * * * * Motion sickness is both the navigator’s and driver's nightmare - for the person there is nothing worse than that feeling of nausea that envelops them, and then for the driver, there is the frustration that strikes as they have to slow or stop to cater for their co-driver’s health! Motion sickness stops many from becoming co-drivers, but it hits people from different walks of life. Parents will talk about the anguish of going on trips with their family because one member suffers car or motion sickness. From a holistic point of view, there are several factors that can contribute to someone getting car sick, these are:
  • Low blood sugar - in brief, this is caused by not eating regularly enough, or eating foods that are too high in sugar and do not give lasting energy. As our blood sugar drops a variety of symptoms can follow including - headaches, craving more sugar, getting light-headed, and this may progress to nausea and for some vomiting.
  • Poor Liver Function - nausea is frequently an indication that our liver is not working as well as it should. This is caused through our poor eating habits, poor bowel habits and too much alcohol.
WHAT CAN BE DONE? FOOD Initially many people think that if they do not eat then they won't get sick. Not quite true. A fat filled, greasy meal of a hamburger, or pizza and chips, eaten two minutes before a fast ride in a rally car may make even those with cast iron stomachs a little green at the gills. But not eating doesn't help. When we don't eat, our blood sugar levels drop and our energy drops, we also get light headed. Put this together with a ride in a car travelling at speed and the result will often be nausea and motion sickness. BREAKFAST Always start the day with breakfast. You don't run the rally car without fuel, why should you run without fuel? Breakfast has to be light, but also give you energy for the day ahead. Avoid a full breakfast of sausages and eggs, or bacon and eggs. This is too rich for the body to cope with and will only cause problems later in the day! What to have? Whole grain toast with jam or Vegemite, but keep the butter very low or have none at all. The fat in the butter will make the toast much harder to digest and will put the liver to a real test. Cereals may be helpful, but many are full of sugar and of little nutritional value. Porridge, or a home made muesli, are possible exceptions, however adding milk to the cereal is not a good move. This makes the breakfast harder to digest and more likely to be regurgitated. For those who do not like their cereal dry, muesli bars are a viable option. Fruit is also light and easy to digest, but if you have fruit for breakfast you will often have to have some more fruit one to two hours later. SNACKS During the rest of the day the solution is to eat little and often. Small snacks of food are the best way to go. Fruit is light and easily digested, bananas are very good. Muesli bars give quick and fast acting energy, and they also have some whole grains in them so will give some lasting energy as well. Salad vegetables are easy to digest and reasonable in terms of giving energy. For those who want to eat sandwiches, it is best to go for something on whole grain bread and preferably without meat and/or cheese, and only eat half a round at a time. Wholemeal muffins, rice cakes, Ryvitas, whole grain Salada, Cruskits or other crackers that are made of whole grains are another good snack choice. Organise a snack for each service point. CAFFEINE Caffeine is disguised in many forms including coffee, tea, chocolate, guarana and soft drinks. Caffeine intake increases our blood sugar and makes us feel more energetic, but this is only a short term solution. Within one or two hours we are feeling tired and in need of more food and coffee.

There can often be no let up for a sick co-driver.

If we go longer without our next ‘hit’, our blood sugar drops and potentially nausea and car sickness may develop. Do not suddenly reduce your coffee intake, especially in the week before a rally. For those who normally drink a lot of coffee, going cold turkey is a quick way to produce headaches, which can potentially develop into car sickness. When reducing coffee, it is best to reduce intake by a cup a week. FIZZY DRINKS Fizzy drinks are well known for making one burp. Do not consume any fizzy drinks during a rally as these may contribute to any feelings of nausea and unrest in the digestive system.   NATURAL REMEDIES GINGER This is possibly the most common natural remedy used by those suffering motion sickness. Ginger is traditionally very good for the digestive system. It is calming and helps one digest food better. However, ginger is also hot and warming, and many who suffer motion sickness take ginger on an empty stomach and then complain about it burning them. Ginger must be taken with some food and I would recommend that you try it first. It is no use trying it on the rally and finding out that the burning feeling gives you heartburn and that you then feel sick! FLOWER ESSENCES These are a liquid infusion of flowers that are taken internally and work at calming our systems, allowing us to cope more easily with stress. (These are different to essential oils, which must not be taken internally).

A co-driver's head is always down, so any motion sickness is heightened

Using these essences I have had wonderful results in treating co-drivers that had previously suffered from car sickness. I make up a mix for the person using a combination of -
  • Rescue Remedy - for relaxation, calming and allowing one to cope with stressful situations.
  • Paw Paw - for helping one digest and integrate decisions and digest food.
  • Dill - helps with digestion and is particularly good when one is overwhelmed - too many things going on at once. It helps calm and soothe and allows one to integrate and digest all that is happening.
  • Chamomile - a remedy for those that are agitated and nervous. It helps to settle the stomach and digestive system.
To this mix I usually add some tissue salts usually -
  • Sodium sulphate - which assists the liver and digestion and helps with those who suffer from nausea.
  • Potassium chloride - which helps us digest food better.
  • Magnesium phosphate - which is a relaxant and helps one cope with any stress and tension (not that there is any of that around rally time!!!).
I make these up in a liquid base that uses a small amount of brandy (a maximum of 5mls in a 25ml bottle) as a preservative, but for those that are concerned about alcohol I can make this up in water, but the mix will not last as long as it has no preservative in it. This mix is best taken as 4 drops, under the tongue, about 3-4 times on the day before the rally and then as needed during the rally. This mixture is quite safe, and will not cause any drowsiness, and will not affect any drug testing that may be done. It is also impossible to overdose on this remedy. More will not necessarily improve the situation any further, just make no difference.   WHAT ELSE? A glass of warm water with some lemon juice, first thing in the morning, assists with digestion, liver function and also our cravings for sweet things. This is something that needs to become a regular part of life and not just a rally morning routine. Remember to look up and look out the windscreen. If you are feeling nauseous the feeling will be accentuated by looking down and feeling trapped.
Sebastien Loeb

Sebastien Loeb and Daniel Elena are the most successful pairing in the WRC's history.

Have the window open a little so you can get some fresh air in. Make sure you do not drive with recycled air on all the time, this will contribute to feelings of tiredness and can contribute to you feeling sick and nauseous. Also, do not drink alcohol before the rally - at the very least do not drink the night before, and if possible, for the week before. Finally if you have any ear trouble, please have it checked out as this can contribute to lack of balance and motion sickness.
  • If you would like any more information on motion sickness remedies, contact Caroline van der Mey on (08) 9455 2959, at her website or caroline@healingsolutions.com.au
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