Naturopathic Thoughts on Staying Well and Energized While Travelling
It’s been a good month since I was asked if I could write a post about naturopathic support to keep the body and mind well while travelling and with winter in full force. Sharing my preparatory thoughts and memories of past travels in warmth, sun and sand have been a welcome escape; this is what I’ve come up with.
By Dr. Meghan Bauer ND
1. Jet Lag Support
Whether you’re travelling for a week or 6 months, the initial adjustment to your newly landed adventure is key. Although the wine is tempting on long overnight flights - or short day flights for that matter - keep them minimal and focus your attention on staying hydrated (this goes for all points actually; 1 – 3, prioritize water!) If you can manage to pack a few tetra packs of coconut water, even better. The mineral rich content of coconut water will help you maintain your fluid levels more easily.
If you have a significant time change to cope with, melatonin can be very useful. A 3mg, sublingual dose 30 minutes before the time (new time) you want to go to sleep will help to convince your internal clock that it’s time for lights out. I typically recommend 3 nights of melatonin before bed for an optimal adjustment.
Lastly, homeopathic jet lag formulas are excellent and really help with the hangover feeling of turning our internal clock upside down. Most health food stores will carry a combination product of more than one homeopathic remedy that helps to ease the symptoms of jet lag. I would take a dose a few times a day for the first 2 or 3 days depending on how you’re feeling.
2. Energy, Strength and Vitality
Typically the excitement of a new adventure and a break from daily routine and stress goes a long way towards us feeling our best, although, travel is not without stress and it is sometimes when our body (and mind) decide it’s time to crash. I keep thinking about my 23 year old self landing in London for the first time on my way to Korea for a year to teach English, and spending the first week wanting to sleep and cry in my hotel room – what was going on? I was so conflicted with my feelings of discomfort and fatigue and wanting to get out, explore and experience everything I could. In retrospect, my previous month of exams, preparing for a trip, being far away from home for the first time and a long overnight flight had caught up with me. I needed to rest and give myself some time to adapt and restore. Listen to your self and perhaps take the first day or two of a trip slowly, rest as much as you need and give yourself time to adjust. Our stress response needs a holiday too and often this comes with a need for increased sleep and down time. The rest of your trip will go much smoother because of it.
A green supplement like Spirulina (my personal favourite) is amazing at keeping energy vibrant and your immune system strong no matter what the type of trip you are on. Spirulina has iron, B vitamins, magnesium, calcium and many other micro minerals and vitamins in a very absorbable form to help keep you ticking optimally while on the go. It helps our bodies manage increase demand, a varied and possibly inconsistent diet and keeps us alkaline and digesting everything we do eat well. It is truly a perfect combination for staying healthy and feeling good.
3. Avoiding Infection; Digestive or otherwise
Probiotics are the mainstay of optimal digestive and immune support. The more stable and active the good bacteria are in your gut, the less of an impact the unwanted bacteria have and the more stimulated and active your immune system is. When my husband ate an enormous oyster out of the ocean in Southern Chile during what is called Marea Roja, a Red Tide that brings warmer water and harbours more bacteria, he was sick for over a week with horrible digestive upset. Luckily we found a pharmacy that sold probiotics and they quickly helped to stabilize his digestive turmoil and get over the bacteria. Lesson learned – take the probiotic preventatively! A daily dose of an active probiotic will ward off unwanted digestive bugs and if you do get one it will have much less of an impact. If you are traveling somewhere where you don’t have access to a fridge to keep the probiotic cold you should get one that doesn’t need to be refrigerated as the good bacteria will die off quickly out of the fridge otherwise.
Depending on where you are travelling, bringing some sort of antimicrobial agent might be a good idea. I’ve travelled with oil of oregano, garlic capsules and grapefruit seed extract in the past and all with equal success. They are excellent antimicrobials that will help to kill off pathogens; bacteria, fungus and viruses. Grapefruit seed extract is great if you are uncertain about water quality or eating fruit as you can get it in a liquid and use a few drops in your water or to ‘wash’ the fruit. Also, it doesn’t smell like garlic or oil of oregano. Having oil of oregano spill in your bag, which I have, is a big, stinky mess - I still associate a trip to India with the smell of oregano oil, although I didn’t get sick!
So, if you were to catch me at the airport and dumped out my travel bag, the contents would include; some coconut water, a heat stable probiotic, spirulina tablets and a dropper bottle of grapefruit seed extract. I’d likely have a botanical all-purpose healing salve as well. Something with castor oil and calendula in it to use on any cut or scrape or insect bite or really anything! They are amazing. I’ve recently started travelling with my daughters natural, diaper rash ointment as my all-purpose healing salve. It’s the perfect botanical combination for any skin ailment that comes along. I would likely also have a natural hand sanitizer with lavender essential oil, like Dr. Bronner’s, as it’s antimicrobial and smells amazing or just travel with lavender essential oil. It’s antimicrobial, you can put it directly on your skin and it is calming to the nervous system and helps with sleep. A perfect recipe for a healthy and energized adventure!
Try sipping on the following smoothie to kick-start your next jet-set...