This section is from the book "Practical Dietetics With Special Reference To Diet In Disease", by William Gilman Thompson. Also available from Amazon: Practical Dietetics with Special Reference to Diet in Disease.
There is no known dietetic treatment of seasickness which is applicable to many cases. There are those who overeat because of the tonic of the bracing sea air. The idleness and lack of accustomed exercise, and perhaps something in the quality of the air itself, all contribute to make them bilious, and unloading stomach and bowels thoroughly once for all suffices to cure them for the rest of the voyage. The habit of indulging in late "farewell suppers" is naturally the worst preparation possible for a sea voyage.
Some persons at sea can leave the table, vomit the first two or three courses of a dinner, return, and finish the meal with astonishing equanimity. With them nausea is not a persistent or annoying symptom, and they need no treatment. Others are always nauseated, but fail to vomit, and consequently grow weak from lack of food. They do well to take a mild emetic at first, and usually a tumblerful of lukewarm water will serve to empty the stomach of food lying there undigested and fermenting. They are then temporarily relieved, and can assimilate some form of predigested food.
Still others, after severe experience with emesis, strongly crave and can actually retain and digest, in defiance of all dietetic laws, substances which they could scarcely eat at home. Old cheese, nuts and raisins, sour pickles, canned lobster, and similar incongruities of diet are indulged in without a qualm.
There is a class of persons of both sexes, though the greater number are women, who become so ill at sea as to reach a serious condition of prostration. These patients are constantly nauseated, not alone by the taste, but by even the sight and odour of food. The mere idea of it, as the suggestion from reading an elaborate menu, will nauseate. It is often difficult for such patients on a crowded steamer to obtain the proper food and service, and it is well for them to go provided with certain articles which are most useful. Chief among these is sterilised milk. This is now easily obtainable before sailing, and there is no difficulty in keeping it fresh during the length of an ordinary transatlantic voyage. It may be peptonised at the time it is needed, or diluted with equal parts of Vichy or lime water, or taken with ten grains of bicarbonate of soda and three grains of cerium oxalate to the tumblerful. The Swiss milk, condensed without sugar, may also be used. Fresh lemons and sour oranges are very acceptable to many patients, the former particularly so on account of their greater acidity and special power to quiet the nausea of seasickness.
The juice of one or two lemons, squeezed into a tumbler of iced Vichy or Apollinaris, with a little sugar or saccharin, and a pinch of bicarbonate of sodium, makes a most refreshing and soothing beverage.
Prepared clam broth, like milk, can also be taken in bottles, and it often allays nausea. It is mildly stimulating and nourishing.
Other drinks which are recommended besides those above mentioned are weak brandy and soda or Seltzer, cold champagne, or sparkling Moselle. Too much ice water should not be drunk, but cracked ice may be sucked. Strong black coffee is excellent. If there is uncertainty about this being obtained good at sea, the extract of coffee may be carried, which can be drunk diluted in hot water. Coffee distinctly allays nausea, besides being a good cardiac stimulant and diuretic. Some persons can take porter or stout in small doses with benefit.
It is not well to take too much soup or broth at once, for if there is much motion the weight of the fluid, tipping about in the stomach as the vessel rolls and pitches, may easily accentuate the nausea. In some cases patients may retain dry, solid food better than liquids, and they should try soda crackers, zwieback, lemon ginger-snaps, and chipped smoked beef, which can be obtained in boxes at the grocer's before sailing. In extreme cases it may be necessary to use beef peptonoids or other meat preparations, such as beef meal, given either by mouth or in enemata. The white of egg may be given in brandy. Preserved dry ginger helps some persons. Lime-water tablets may be used.
Epigastric applications of hot-water bags or mustard pastes afford relief. It is desirable to lie down at once after taking food, and lie perfectly horizontal, without a pillow. It is very important to keep the bowels freely open with bitter water of some sort. Rubinat is less objectionable in taste than others. Seidlitz powders are usually well retained, and so is citrate of magnesia.