Karate for Seasickness/Nausea...

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Karate for Seasickness/Nausea...

Postby chernon » Wed Jun 30, 2010 7:30 am

Karate cures seasickness/nausea! I've been meaning to write about this experience for a while, and I'd love to hear other similar stories if anyone has one to share.

I spent two weeks this past winter working on a small ecotourism kind of cruise, for the first time. It was a 150-foot boat, and you could really feel the waves/motion. From day 1, I was derailed by nausea/seasickness. (Who knew?) I tried everyone's recommendations: look at the horizon, ginger, gingerale, ginger candy, frequent naps, Sea Band pressure point bracelet, median nerve electrical stimulator watch band device, deep breathing, meclizine (nausea medicine).....and really, nothing worked all that well.

By day 3, I started to panic a little. After all, I was *working*, and had responsibilities; I had NO time for overwhelming, incapacitating nausea. After 3 days without a moment's relief, after HOURS outside on deck trying to make the horizon stop moving, after a few episodes of losing my lunch....I started to get anxious (which is not typical for me...and I think getting anxious makes me very anxious). Everything was moving. I closed my eyes....it got worse. I opened my eyes, that was even worse. I wanted to cry...made it worse. Tried to sit, tried to stand...all worse, worse, worse.

As I started to panic a little, I realized I needed to snap out of it...immediately...and told myself to *just breathe*...which was not enough. I started to count while breathing. Breathe in...1,2,3. Breathe out...4,5,6. This didn't help all that much...but it DID remind me of karate class....opening exercises, really. So, I started Jumbi Undo. The first few seconds were terrible, but I persisted. After 10 seconds, it was very slightly improved. After 30 seconds, it was really starting to improve.

Within 5 minutes of starting Jumbi Undo, the nausea was gone. GONE, GONE, GONE....truly gone....and stayed gone for 30-60 minutes or more. Long enough for me to reset, to settle down, to get a nap. Over the ensuing hours and days, I had many more episodes of nausea, but just knowing that I had a tool to make it go away was beyond priceless.

I learned that, for me, seasickness is "all in my head". It may be triggered by the sensory input overload (inner ear vestibular function, visual cues, and body-space propioception), but the cure...the cure lies in meditation---which I learned how to do in karate class.

Amazing tool. Wonderful, terrific, miraculous tool.
Karate cures seasickness/nausea! Thanks, karate.
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Postby Shana Moore » Thu Jul 01, 2010 9:08 pm

I think the discipline and breathing we learn in Karate has many uses. I know I've used for pain (contractions), nervousness (job interview), and anger (well..yeah). I'm not surprised that it helped you, and am excited that it helped so well! Glad you found a method to help you through!
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Re: Karate for Seasickness/Nausea...

Postby Bill Glasheen » Thu Jul 01, 2010 9:16 pm

That's a good story.
chernon wrote:
I learned that, for me, seasickness is "all in my head". It may be triggered by the sensory input overload (inner ear vestibular function, visual cues, and body-space propioception), but the cure...the cure lies in meditation---which I learned how to do in karate class.

If you mean "all in your head" in a dismissive sense, well no. But if you mean the solution is "in your head", well you're on to something.

This isn't a small thing, chernon. As a biomedical engineer and systems physiologist, I know a thing or two about this. The military may spend hundreds of thousands of dollars on a potential fighter pilot in training, only to find out that he (she) blows his cookies every time he does a roll. And if he continues to blow his cookies on every flight, well then that just won't do. All that instrumentation, the gas mask, the flight suit... It doesn't do well with vomit all over it.

They actually have designed rooms where people experience the craziness of motion sickness. It's a very real phenomenon. Basically the easiest way to induce it is to make your body feel something different from what your eyes see or your brain anticipates. A conflict of information going into central processing causes the body to block parasympathetic function to the gut. Translation - you blow chunks.

However as you've discovered, it is possible to override the body's tendency to do this by putting brain activity into a happier state. Any type of repetitive task or meditative exercise can help.

True story in a bit...

- Bill
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Postby Bill Glasheen » Thu Jul 01, 2010 9:33 pm

There are a couple of interesting elements to this. Note my definition of the state the body is in which can trigger the nausea. One of the conflicts is anticipation of what the body is to experience vs. what the body feels or sees.

A good example of this is the phenomenon of a driver not getting seasick but the passengers having a problem. Whenever you have fighter pilots flying in tandem, the head pilot doesn't have anywhere near the problem that the copilot does. If you can adjust what you feel and you have no delay in-between the adjustment and the response, well then you generally don't have a problem. But if you're going along for the ride and being tossed about like bag groceries, well that can be rough.

In my years of doing open heart surgery in the lab, I came to a few interesting discoveries. One had to do with this pilot vs. copilot phenomenon. When cutting with electrocautery to go into the chest, invariably you get bleeders. So when you cauterize the bleeders, you get the smoke that comes from burning flesh. And that is a not-so-special smell.

I noticed that on MY experiment days when I was the surgeon, the smell was no big deal. But when I walked into the lab on another day and someone else was frying flesh, I got a mild wave of nausea. It wasn't so bad that I had to leave, but it was enough of a reaction to take note.

What I did for 4 years was to set up heart attacks in the lab. In doing so, I had to instrument a beating heart. Cardiac surgeons cheat; they get to stop the heart before doing a bypass procedure. I had to do all my surgery on a beating heart. Make one mistake, and I had a very short day. And those days happened more often than I wanted, until I got very good at what I did.

In order to get good at surgery on a beating heart, I ended up developing a kind of zen mind. The more you think about catheterizing a coronary vessel on a moving surface, the more likely you were going to nick the artery and kill the prep. But if you just ignored the movement and took the Nike approach (just do it), it happened.

One day I was doing a series of experiments with a young cardiology fellow. The last experiment in the series was the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. And after that, the Fellow had to be on the hospital floor for the next 2 months. Well... Tuesday night is there and I have high fever and vomiting. I am puking my guts out. I call Mark and ask him if we can delay. In so many words... "I need you!!!" So I tell Mark to come pick me up and point me to the prep. I'll find a way...

Well I didn't eat much. I got the prep started. I was doing all the basic lines before getting into the chest. Then it came time to cut into the chest, where all the smell of burning flesh was going to happen.

And the room began to move.

And I said "Excuse me, Mark!" I went to the Men's room and dry-heaved for a few minutes.

I came back.

Eventually I got through all that gross-motor chest cutting, and got into the delicate surgery on the heart. And then the most amazing thing happened. I noticed that as I got into the "Zen mind" I use to do ridiculously delicate surgery, all the nausea went away. I was running a fever of 102, and yet I felt fine.

Same thing, basically.

It's rare that you go through something in life where you get to test how some of this stuff works. Often though the best tests can be found when doing everyday things. The more you do these things, the more you get feedback as to how your process is working. And when you get that reinforcement, it's a very wonderful thing.

- Bill
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