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October 2000 Vol. 26, No. 10   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Dramamine, Sudafed, and Ginger

from the October, 2000 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

The results of a recent study make it clear that divers need to steer away from Dramamine to avoid seasickness.

Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh administered several verbal, memory, and pegboard tests to divers in a chamber at 3 feet and at 66 feet of pressure. The double-blind, placebo-controlled study involved divers recruited from local diving clubs.

They found Dramamine (dimenhydrinate) led to a significant decrease in mental flexibility scores and could have serious consequences on a diver’s mental functioning and judgment. “Dramamine should be avoided prior to diving,” says David Taylor, M.D., principal investigator of the study.

The researchers also tested the effect of Sudafed (pseudoephedrine), which divers use to keep their air passages free. After finding it to be relatively safe, Taylor said, “Our findings indicate that Sudafed is unlikely to cause problems for divers.”

As for seasickness, all evidence — including tests by the U.S. Navy Experimental Dive Unit — points to the prescription-only Transderm Scop patch as the best means for divers to reduce motion sickness.

However, for those divers who prefer herbal treatments, a recent study at the University of Michigan found evidence that ginger might be a substitute. Subjects were given 1000 milligrams of ginger powder and others a placebo thirty minutes before inducing motion sickness by rotating them in a drum. Those given ginger had significantly lower nausea scores than the control subjects. “Ginger appears to be an effective herbal alternative to medications,” said head researcher Dr. Wei Ming Sun.

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