Review: Is the Reliefband Worth Purchasing? | Drink HRW

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Review: Is the Reliefband Worth Purchasing?
Review: Is the Reliefband Worth Purchasing?

Once I made the decision to focus on investigating the potential benefits and value of various medical devices and biohacks as thoroughly and meticulously as possible, I started visiting many websites selling devices and clicking on their ads to review their marketing claims and supposed benefits. This has given me a good idea about which companies are spending money on retargeting and helped me narrow down my “next” review based on relevance. Reliefband skipped the queue, so to speak because the timing was great. 

My wife suffers from motion sickness, particularly when reading while in a moving vehicle, and we had a road trip coming up. Its web traffic is respectable, but not significant. Some of its claims are innocuous, but others tackle serious issues requiring validation, which they do have buried on their website. If the results are true, the device is quite relevant to anyone suffering from nausea. This is what it claims the device treats:

  • Anxiety
  • Physician-diagnosed migraines
  • Hangover
  • Morning sickness
  • Post-operative nausea
  • Car sickness
  • Airsickness
  • Seasickness
  • Train sickness
  • Nausea caused by gaming
  • Nausea caused by rides in amusement parks

How Does Reliefband Work?

This is the description from the website:

Reliefband Technologies’ advanced, wearable neuromodulation devices generate sophisticated programmed transdermal pulses with a highly-specific waveform, frequency, and amplitude to stimulate the median nerve on the underside of the wrist.

These precise transdermal pulses generate signals within the median nerve that travel via the peripheral nervous system to the central nervous system’s higher emetic control center in the brainstem. These signals positively modulate various natural neural pathways involved in regulating emesis via the vagus nerve to restore normal gastric rhythms.

What is The Clinical Evidence?

Reliefband appears to have some significant clinical evidence to back up its claims.

Chemotherapy Nausea Relief

Reliefband has a published a double-blind, placebo-controlled study in cancer patients receiving chemotherapy, which seemed to show a decrease in nausea. 

Another double-blind, placebo-controlled crossover trial on the ReliefBand did not see any results overall but did see significant results on Days 2, 3, and 4 of the 7-day trial. Since the overall results were not significant and it was not stated whether the inactive band outperformed the Reliefband on Days 1,5, 6, and 7, it is difficult to draw positive conclusions from this.

Post-Operative Nausea Relief

In a 120-participant, double-blind, placebo-controlled study comparing the Reliefband against Ondansetron, a pharmaceutical drug prescribed to prevent nausea and vomiting, the Reliefband significantly outperformed Ondansetron, with the combination of the two treatments being even more effective.

The above study was a follow-up of a previous study on 250 participants (double-blind and placebo-controlled), which found that the Reliefband reduced post-operative nausea, but not vomiting. 

For practical use, I wanted to see how this would perform in real-world situations for one of its non-medical claimed applications, namely for the benefit of my wife’s motion sickness.

My Case Study Design

I ran a single-blind, placebo-controlled case study on one participant (my wife) with nausea and dizziness induced by reading while in a moving vehicle.

Test: 

Road trip, with measurements of time to induce dizziness and nausea while reading, and intensity of nausea once the participant was unable to focus on reading.

To avoid mitigating circumstances, I ran the experiment on 4 separate days, testing the ReliefBand, a placebo device (pulsating muscle stimulating arm strap), and a “no-device control.” The order was changed between each test: Device 1, no device, Device 2; Device 2, no device, Device 1, and then repeated to account for any residual nausea. The subsequent tests did not start until the participant advised the nausea was back to a “0.”

Scale:

1—No nausea

5—Vomiting begins

10—Extreme nausea, vomiting, participant is incapacitated

All tests were done on mountain roads that were similarly windy and driving a similar speed.

Results of Nausea in Moving Car Test

The participant was instructed to stop reading when nausea interfered too significantly with reading to continue, which was between a 2 and 3 out of 10, determined by self-assessment.

There was a 1-hour cut-off to the test, meaning if an hour of reading was achieved, then the reading would stop with or without nausea and no single test accomplished.

 

Device

Day 1

Day 2

Day 3

Day 4

Average

ReliefBand Time

21:58

30:41

21:39

28:47

25:46

ReliefBand Nausea

3

2

3

3

2.75

No-Band Time

20:03

21:09

16:27

14:33

18:03

No band Nausea

Stopped at 3, quickly peaked at 5*

2.5

3.5

3

3.5

Placebo Band Time

5:39

11:55

17:22

19:02

13:29

Placebo Band Nausea

4

3

3

2.5

3.125

 

The results showed a significant improvement in time to nausea in this case study, with an increase of 43% compared to the “no-band” control, and an increase of 118% compared to the control band. The feeling of nausea when the time was stopped was also lower in the Reliefband, suggesting that the disparity may have been greater if the participant had read until the same level of nausea.

The placebo device potentially increased time to nausea due to its pulsation.

The Reliefband setting was set to only 2 out of 5, as the participant relayed that the device was painful and distracting to wear while reading. When set at a “5,” she was unable to read or tolerate wearing the device. For others that may not be as affected by the sensation from the device, the results may be even more significant.

Post-Case Study Questionnaire

I asked my wife the following questions after revealing which device was the “active” one, which she had already presumed based on her experience:

Q: Do you feel the device helped with your car sickness?

A: Yes.

Q: Do you feel the relief was worth the $129 USD price tag?

A: No.

Q: Does the nausea relief outweigh the hassle and aggravation of wearing the band?

A: No.

Q: Do you want to keep the band, now that we own it? Meaning, will you ever wear it again?

A: No.

Q: Do you recommend it to others?

A: Probably not.

***In a follow-up use, my wife was very thankful I had not yet thrown out the device. On another drive through an incredibly windy highway to a remote old-growth forest, her nausea (without reading) reached the point she had to recline her seat to lay down, almost to the point of vomiting. 

We tried the Reliefband, and due to the nausea being greater than the annoyance of the band, she was able to set it to a “5”. She found the Reliefband significantly reduced her nausea in just a few minutes, and opted to wear it on the drive home, as well. She has now asked to keep it for situations like this but stands by her position that it is ineffective and not useful for her desired goal of reading while I drive.

Experience with the Reliefband Company

I noticed that the board of directors for Reliefband does not have a single scientist or medical doctor, just multiple executives, which raises a red flag for me. Further, of their four clinical trials, only one contains a statement regarding funding, and simply states that the study was “supported in part by” and lists the parent company of Reliefband.

That said, if the device works and if the value is good, these factors may not pose serious issues. The band costs $129.99 USD and took about 4 weeks to deliver, which is quite long, but not completely unreasonable. This is for delivery to Canada; however, it appears that the device is available for fast shipping on Amazon Prime to U.S. residents.

One significant issue was the quality of the band. Upon attempting to put on the device for the very first time, the wristband clasp broke (see the photo below).

Final Analysis of Reliefband

Would I recommend the device? This is a tough question. The device seems to be effective; however, there were issues with its comfort, strap quality, and practicality for how we intended to use it. My wife prefers to simply not read over the slight benefits the device offers, due to the discomfort it creates while only extending her ability to read in the car by a few minutes. From this standpoint, using the Reliefband does not seem worth it.

For others who have severe nausea, and perhaps are not as affected by the sensation, it may be an incredibly practical and life-changing device. My takeaway is that each person should reflect on these considerations and decide whether it is worth it to try for their own situation. Fortunately, the device is not prohibitively expensive.


3 comments

  • Peroxynitrite

    This may be of interest:

    Applied Ergonomics Volume 90, January 2021, 103264

    A novel method for reducing motion sickness susceptibility through training visuospatial ability – A two-part study

    Highlights
    • Visuospatial ability has a causal effect on motion sickness susceptibility.
    • It is possible to train and improve visuospatial skills.
    • Improving ones visuospatial skills is an effective method of reducing motion sickness.
    • Training visuospatial skills to reduce motion sickness is effective for both efferent and afferent motion scenarios.

    https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S000368702030212X

    (Open Access)


  • Alex Tarnava

    stay tuned for the launch of a not for profit I founded that will help with exactly this:

    myjourney.science


  • Gregory Graves

    It is comforting to know that there is someone out there that is persuasive enough to talk their better halves into doing single-blind, placebo-controlled case studies. Anytime someone convinces my wife that this newly discovered supplement or some random tree bark from French Polynesia can change her life in mystical and magical ways and she has decided to try it, I will acquiesce to her whim on the condition that she gives me a blood and stool sample to send in before she reorders. ‘Kudos’ to your wife for putting up with your shenanigans! Alas, due to my lack of persuasion skills and more than a decade of her marital internment, my better halves standard quip to any pre-study inquires I make has become "don’t even think about it and don’t you dare talk to our children about your weird $#@%.’ Loved your article and will attempt to recruit her into my own single-blind, placebo-controlled car sickness case study during our next epic road trip.


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