Episode 43: Sea-sickness – Kill or Cure?

Air Date: November 18, 2005

Seasickness can be cured by using a cinnamon-flavored tongue spray.


The spray had no effect on Adam or Grant.

Seasickness can be cured by taking a ginger pill.


Both Adam and Grant made it through their spin-chair sessions without feeling ill.

Seasickness can be cured by using magnetized arm bands.


The arm bands had no effect on Adam or Grant. Some celebrities like Barry Manilow claim they work; they nonetheless do not operate on any valid scientific principles.

Seasickness can be cured by using an electro-shock wrist band.


The shocks made Adam and Grant feel mildly uncomfortable and they still got sick.

Seasickness can be cured by using a placebo, like a vitamin or a sugar pill.


While Adam didn’t fall for it, Grant was successfully tricked into thinking he had taken a store-bought sea-sickness medication and did not throw up. Unfortunately, by falling for the placebo all his test results had to be thrown out on the grounds of psychosomatic influence.

It is more fuel efficient to drive your pick-up truck with its tailgate down, rather than up.


Driving with the tailgate down actually increased drag on the pick-up and caused it to consume fuel faster than the identical truck driven with the tailgate up. It was later revealed that the closed tailgate creates a locked vortex flow that created a smoother flow of air over the truck. With the tailgate down the trapped vortex was dissipated and the drag increased.

(This myth was revisited in episode 64 and re-busted. However, it was found that mesh tailgates are the most efficient configuration.)

A shotgun plugged by a human finger will backfire and explode injuring or killing the shooter instead of the intended victim.


Both test hands (composed of ballistics gel of varying firmness) were completely obliterated by the shotgun blast. Neither had the volume or strength needed to plug the barrel to create enough pressure to cause it to explode. Even under ridiculous circumstances like having the barrel clogged with dirt, being sealed off by a 4 inch spike welded into the barrel and by being blocked by a simulated squib load, the gun still didn’t explode. The best results seen were minor deformations in the gun barrel.

(This myth was revisited in episode 75 and it was re-busted.)


  1. Liz says:

    As much as I love Mythbusters, this episode had me screaming at the TV! In the segment “Seasickness can be cured by placebo” they gave the guys Vitamin B as a “placebo” and then threw out Grant’s results because the “placebo” worked for him. Ask any pregnant woman who’s suffered from morning sickness, she has probably had a doctor or pharmacist suggest that she take a dose of Vitamin B6! It has long been used to treat nausea.

    Here’s a few links:





    Just Google “vitamin B, nausea” There are thousands of pages out there supporting its use!

    • John says:

      The reason Vitamin B6 works for morning-sickness-related nausea is because the nausea is caused by a physiological process that occurs on the inside of the body, an event that is chemically-based. On the other hand, seasickness is related to motion sickness, a psychological cause and not a physiological (chemical) cause. This is why Vitamin B does not work for seasickness but does work for morning sickness.

      A much better medication for seasickness would be Meclozine, sold as Antivert and several other brand names. This drug is specifically designed to target the causes of motion sickness. Of course, being an antihistamine, it also causes drowsiness.

      I hope that helps to clarify things for you.

      • david mckenna says:

        motion sickness RELATED to psycholovical cause – good. having you semicircular cannels in your ears at 90 degrees to the water surface however is PHYSICAL. kinda undermines your B6 reasoning – i think. planning 10 day Antartic cruise therefore my interest/curiosity. dmck RN

        • david mckenna says:

          With further thinking, ears at 90 degrees to water surface would be normal. Pitching starboard then port repeatedly/endlessly THAT is not and that IS physical.

  2. kenneth j. legro says:

    concerning tailgates and fuel efficiency, if a mesh tailgate is most efficient than what about the louvered type that are made for towing 5th wheels, would a standard tailgate that was perforated like a slab of swiss cheese be as fuel efficient as the mesh type?

  3. Erin says:


    I had the exact same thought! While I was pregnant (and violently ill and nauseous), I was actually presecribed ‘Diclectin’ (available in Canada) which is a vit b complex with antihistamine!! (diclectin.com)

  4. Eliza says:

    Liz and Erin,

    Sorry to say this but…..morning sickness and motion sickness are two different feelings!

    • david mckenna says:


  5. Aussie Jim says:

    Just watching this episode have you tryed putting the barrel underwater not entire gun just barrel as if shooting fish i have seen the result of this which is the peeling you where looking for

  6. Laura says:

    what kind/strength ginger pills were used for the test? I can’t lay on a raft in a pool without getting sick—loved the episode but was left wanting specifics on those magic pills!

  7. sic mick says:

    Have just been searching for this episode. Did they make any attempt to control for preceeding responses?

    If you keep getting on a chair that makes you sick, how sick are you before the chair even starts to spin?

    Can you assume you are in the same state prior to each test?

    Also Eliza I think a proper placebo wouldn’t have included any substance linked in anyway with elevating naseau in general.

    • david mckenna says:

      sound thinking great questions.
      re “same state prior to each test”
      i’d say no. more like predisposed.

  8. Mindy Douthitt says:

    If anyone knows what ginger pills were used on the sea sickness episode, reply,

    • david mckenna says:

      don’t know of any kind of ginger pills. this use of ginger came up in conversation a few days ago AND THAT MADE ME REMEMBER we used to give our patients “flattened” gingerale. and it WORKED nearly every time. just stir the fizz out!! dmck RN

  9. Shelly H. says:

    I am so prone to motion sickness that just looking at boats or being on a city bus can make me sick. I have tried ginger pills after this episode aired, and they work like a charm. It doesn’t matter the brand or the dose. If you just go to any store with dietary supplements, just look for the bottle that says “ginger pills” as the dietary supplement and take the recommended does on the bottle. It warms your whole head within 10 minutes if you are currently sick and all of the sudden you’re good to go!

  10. Shelly H. says:

    Oh, and as far as which bottle, just look at the ingredients and get the purest stuff possible (i.e., no additives).

    • david mckenna says:

      or try an ounce or two of gingerale – diet or regular.
      stir carbonation out.

  11. Sophie says:

    does a guinea pigs squeak come from the voice box?

  12. Mike says:

    As a kid I took my father’s bolt-action Sears shotgun out into the woods with some friends to engage in a bit of mayhem. One round in the gun was defective and it left the shot wad in the barrel. The subsequent round fired peeled the barrel back like a banana. While I am sure that what they discovered here regarding survivability of someone’s hand is accurate, it clearly did not take as much for my father’s shotgun to explode as what the mythbusters did here.

  13. Jeremy says:

    They used B12 which has much different principles of B6 which is used for pregnant women.

  14. Gond says:

    As far as I can tell, they stopped making Sears shotguns in the 50s… I’m not sure how old you are, how old you were when the gun peeled, when the gun was made, how often the gun was used (and possibly abused), etc, but I would expect that all of these and more would play into whether a shotgun will peel or not. I don’t think anyone should take what Mythbusters says as being true in every possible circumstance, because they can’t realistically test every possible circumstance. However, I still think they do a great job of at least testing the most common circumstances, or the specific circumstances of a myth (if available).

  15. Frank says:

    I don’t know what kind of ginger pills they used on the episode, but I have a small boat and always carry candied ginger. I don’t incline toward seasickness, but once every few years I get a skosh queasy, and a piece or two of ginger takes care of it quickly. Various people I know seem to be prone to seasickness to varying degrees — I don’t think it’s a black and white thing, rather a spectrum. So if you tend toward motion sickness it would probably be necessary to experiment with ginger to see how much is needed to help in your case.

    • david mckenna says:

      thanks , Frank. I’ve decided to buy a bag of ginger candy and have it with me when I cross the Drake Passage (the choppiest waters on Earth) in Dec from Ushuaia, Argntina to ghe Antartic Pennisula. Tbanks.

  16. mark smith says:

    tailgate episode review if possible about no tailgate would give better gas mileage.I have a tailgate weighing in about 100 lbs.Wouldn’t this reduce airdrag if taken off and give better gas mileage?

    • Gate says:

      That is what they tested. The tailgate weighs a lot, so if you took off 100 lbs from your truck it would get better mileage. But because the tailgate is there, it forms this air pocket in the truck bed and the air from in front just passes right over it.

      So you’re better off with the tailgate up.

      However, a very light tailgate gives you the best of both worlds: the tailgate is there, so you get the air pocket effect, and the tailgate is light so your truck overall is lighter and uses less fuel to move.

      That’s why they said a mesh tailgate was the best choice.

      However, I would say you’re better off with the tailgate that will hold your cargo in. If the mesh tailgate won’t do that, you’re probably better off with the heavier one even though it’s less fuel efficient.

      Side note: keep your truck as empty as possible for the best fuel economy. Don’t carry around a bunch of concrete blocks all the time, etc.

  17. Sol says:

    I have been using these ginger pills since I saw this episode. I get nauseous on the subway and the pills work. Just take it 20-30 minutes before you get on the train. I also took some on a cruise. All of my tablemates were getting seasick. I shared my ginger tablets and I was as popular as a drug dealer for the rest of the trip.

  18. joebob says:

    I was shooting a shotgun on a camping trip with the boy scouts in the early 90’s and shot a 12 gauge shotgun and it exploded causing shrapnel from the end of the barrel to shatter all my fingernails on my left hand as it came back along the barrel and take 2 chunks out of my right wrist. I chambered a blank and shot it, then a magnum round and boom. We cut off the end of the shotgun and I still have it in a box somewhere.

  19. david mckenna says:

    enjoyed entire discussion; both entertaining and educational. Ginger hardtack in my pocket on the ship.

  20. Jules B says:

    I love this episode, but how am I supposed to watch it? It’s not online and it’s not going to be on TV.

  21. priscilla says:

    what is the back ground work information /literature search
    what is the hypothesis of the sea sickness kill or cure
    what is the final result

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