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Reliefband Review: Can Electrical Pulses Cure Nausea?

Reliefband Review: Can Electrical Pulses Cure Nausea?

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Read our Editorial Guidelines to learn more about what makes our site the premier resource for online health information.

Read our Editorial Guidelines to learn more about what makes our site the premier resource for online health information.

Disclaimer: None of the information in this article constitutes medical advice, and is just the opinion of the writer(s) and published for informational purposes only. We recommend that patients follow their doctor’s guidance in regard to medical devices.

Reliefband is a medical device for preventing nausea and vomiting which is cleared by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the U.S. The company claims that their device sends electrical signals to the brain which shut off nausea.

In this article we’ll review the medical research on this device to determine if we believe it’s likely to be effective and safe, and we’ll also explain what FDA clearance means.

What is FDA Clearance?

Many consumers are often confused about what FDA clearance is. According to the FDA, clearance means that a medical device is “substantially equivalent” to a similar device already on the market. As an example, a blood pressure cuff with a similar structure and similar materials to one already existing on the market may be cleared by the FDA for use.

For the most part, this process involves the FDA reviewing information submitted by the medical device manufacturer arguing the safety and efficacy of their device. Typically the FDA does not actually conduct any testing of their own, according to a CNET investigation, but rather reviews results from independent labs (presumably that the medical device manufacturer paid to conduct testing).

FDA clearance is definitely a good sign of a legitimate product, but it does not necessarily mean the product will be effective in our opinion.

Reliefband Medical Studies

The Reliefband has been around for a while. One of the most-cited studies on the device is from a clinical trial in 2003 which tested the ability of the device to reduce nausea and vomiting in cancer patients. Chemotherapy can often induce both symptoms. Patients in the trial either used the Reliefband or an inactive device.

The results were impressive. Patients using the Reliefband had a reduction in vomiting of greater than 50% (1.9 vs. 4.6 average episodes). Their nausea severity was around 40% lower (0.91 vs. 1.65).

Another medical trial published in the well-respected Anesthesiology journal compared the efficacy of antiemetic medications (drugs which prevent vomiting) alone versus antiemetic medications combined with Reliefband. The patients had recently received plastic surgery, and postoperative nausea is common.

Those patients using the Reliefband in combination with the drugs had a significant reduction in nausea (20% vs. 50%), and none of the Reliefband users experienced vomiting while 20% of the patients on antiemetic medications alone did. 74% of the Reliefband group were able to resume a normal diet within 24 hours, while only 35% of the group using medication alone were.

A more recent trial found similarly positive results. Patients undergoing a medical operation were evaluated for postoperative nausea and vomiting using either the Reliefband or a “sham” device to test for placebo effect.

Patients using the Reliefband had lower scores of nausea and vomiting, and required fewer doses of antiemetic drugs. Patient satisfaction scores were also much higher in the Reliefband group.

The research backing the efficacy of Reliefband is impressive. All of the trials we reviewed were published in legitimate, peer-reviewed scientific journals. We can conclude from the available data that the Reliefband appears likely to be effective for reducing nausea and vomiting. 

We would be curious to see a trial on patients outside of the scope of surgery or chemotherapy. If the Reliefband was proven effective for patients who have nausea due to anxiety, for example, it would truly prove that the device is effective for all causes of nausea.

How Does Reliefband Work?

Reliefband doesn’t publish nearly enough information about how their device works on their website in our opinion, but we can find this information in the medical studies. 

The first-linked study in the previous section details how the Reliefband works. Electrical pulses are delivered to a point in the wrist called the P6 point. This Transcutaneous Electrical Stimulation (TCES) sends signals to the brain which reduce nausea.

Reliefband published a blog post detailing that the area of the brain which controls nausea is called the dorsal vagal complex, and this is the area stimulated by the device.

Apparently when the dorsal vagal complex is stimulated with TCES, it reduces the intensity and frequency of nervous system activity traveling from the vagus nerve to the stomach, which in turn reduces nausea and vomiting.

Natural Anti-Nausea Treatment

Some consumers who may not be able to afford an expensive medical device, or who infrequently experience nausea, may be interested instead in a natural anti-nausea treatment.

Ginger is one of the most well-studied and inexpensive anti-nausea treatments, and is clinically proven to be effective. The linked research review concluded the following: “ginger is an effective and inexpensive treatment for nausea and vomiting and is safe.”

Many commercial ginger formulations are in the form of chews with added sugar, and we don’t recommend those. Consuming products with added sugar is harmful to health. We would recommend a ginger juice product or even a small amount of dried ginger powder mixed into a tea or water. Ginger tea can be effective too.

We’re not suggesting that ginger is as effective as Reliefband for treating nausea; just that it may be a cheaper alternative for consumers who are seeking a simpler and more cost-effective solution.

Reliefband Price

Reliefband Classic is their cheapest model by far, retailing for $139.99 on their website and $149.99 on Amazon at the time of writing this article.

Reliefband Sport costs $229 on Amazon and $239.99 on their website.

Reliefband Premier currently costs $269.99 both on their website and on Amazon.

We would recommend Reliefband Classic as it’s the cheapest model by far and we haven’t come across any clinical data suggesting that the more expensive models are more effective.

Reliefband User Reviews

The Reliefband Classic has the most reviews of any of their products on Amazon. It has 1,945 total reviews, and 1,288 of those (66%) are 5-star reviews.

The top positive review comes from a verified purchaser named “Ashley Mahan” who claims the device caused a large improvement in their quality of life by treating their nausea:

“FINALLY!!!!!!!! I have tried everything under the sun to combat my motion sickness…I literally feel like a completely changed person thanks to this device. I'm SO SO SO happy that I purchased this.”

The top negative review is written by a verified purchaser named “Ronleec5” who claims the device did not treat their motion sickness:

“Bought these for vacation to prevent motion sickness on a boat ride. Did not work at all on the highest level. Still vomited 4 times while on the boat.”

One of the most popular user reviews of the Reliefband comes from a YouTube creator called “EFTMOnline” who claims the device was successful for treating their nausea. The review seems unsponsored:

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Overall the Reliefband seems to be an effective device for treating nausea and vomiting. We would recommend the Reliefband Classic product to consumers who are interested in this device, because it’s the cheapest of all of the models and we believe it’s likely to be just as effective as the other ones.

The Reliefband has significant medical research backing, and it’s likely a healthier first-line option than antiemetic drugs which can cause a wide range of side effects.

For consumers on a tight budget, it may be worthwhile to try ginger as an anti-nausea measure, as this plant is proven in medical literature to be effective at reducing nausea, vomiting and stomach upset.

The technology behind the Reliefband is interesting, and we’re curious if future products will be developed that leverage the same TCES technology to signal to other parts of the brain and potentially benefit patients suffering from other health conditions.

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