The new sights, the sunny beaches, the great food…Travel can be exciting, but even the most experienced travelers need a little help now and then. Here’s our roundup of common travel ailments—and natural remedies that can get you back to enjoying your vacation!
The Problem: Jet lag
It happens when we fly across different time zones, causing a disruption in our sleep/wake cycle (also known as your circadian rhythm). Changing time zones rapidly can cause disruptions in falling asleep, staying asleep or staying awake.
Melatonin is the hormone our bodies make to regulate the sleep/wake cycle, so taking extra in a supplement form may help to reset the sleep/wake cycle disrupted from jet lag. Research has shown that melatonin can aid sleep at times when you wouldn’t normally be sleeping. Good brands to try include Source Naturals, Natural Factors, Jarrow Formulas and Pharmaca. Regular doses usually range between 1-5mg.
NO-JET-LAG (from Miers Laboratory) is a well-loved and trusted homeopathic travel companion. It is safe, easy to take and has been proven effective in tests. A blend of five homeopathic remedies (arnica, daisy, chamomile, ipecac and lycopodium) helps counter the effects of pressure changes and the debilitating effects of long flights.
The Problem: Travel anxiety
Many people experience anxiety around travel, whether it’s fear of flying, fear of where you are going, changing your regular daily routine, fear of leaving home or missing loved ones and animals.
L-Theanine is a unique amino acid found in green tea that supports mental calmness and relaxation by increasing dopamine and GABA in the brain. L-theanine assists the alpha brainwaves associated with relaxation, without any drowsiness. Brands to try include Source Naturals, Jarrow Formulas and Natural Factors.
Rescue Remedy by Bach Flower Essences is a gentle formula to help center your emotions when you’re experiencing situational distress. Rescue Remedy is a blend of five flower essences that assist with emotional stress from illness, fright, injury, travel fatigue and irritation.
Emotional Ally by WishGarden Herbs is formulated to help you cope with temporary anxiety, restlessness and irritability. With herbs like passionflower, skullcap and motherwort, it helps you to re-center yourself and feel relief from travel anxiety.
The Problem: Motion sickness
Also known as travel, car, sea or airsickness, it happens when visually perceived motion is different from your vestibular system’s sense of movement. The most common symptoms are dizziness, fatigue, nausea and vomiting.
PSI Bands are adjustable wristbands that apply acupressure to help relieve the symptoms of nausea and vomiting. Acupressure works by stimulating the body’s self-curative abilities.
Ginger can help with nausea associated with motion sickness. Try New Chapter’s Ginger Force or Jarrow Formulas, Herb Pharm or Pharmaca brand Ginger.
Peppermint can also help with nausea associated with motion sickness. Try Herb Pharm’s Breath Tonic or Enzymatic Therapy’s Peppermint Plus.
Homeopathic Gelsemium Sempervire 30c is also indicated in motion sickness.
The Problem: Travelers’ Diarrhea
This one is common for a few reasons—one being that you are simply drinking water you’re not used to drinking. Another reason may be that the water is not thoroughly treated at your destination. The microbial balance in the digestive tract may be easily disturbed during travel, so it’s important to plan ahead and supplement with probiotics to give the immune and digestive tract a head start.
Start taking a good probiotic a few weeks before your departure to build up healthy colonies of friendly flora. Some specific probiotic strains are more effective at helping with travelers’ diarrhea, but remember that many probiotic formulas require refrigeration. Try Florastor, made with S. boulardii, Jarrow Formulas’ Jarro-Dophilus EPS or Dr. Ohirra’s—all of which are excellent products that do not require refrigeration.
If possible, stick with bottled water from a trusted supplier, and use methods of sterilization when necessary (i.e. plan ahead for boiling, water cleansing tabs or filtration).
The Problem: Decreased Immunity
Cramped airplanes and foreign bacteria can take advantage of anyone’s immune system. That’s why it’s a good idea to start building your immunity several weeks before your trip.
WishGarden Herbs’ Kick-Ass Immune is formulated to activate a healthy immune response and emphasizes respiratory health, which is especially important when flying in airplanes. It’s handy for travel in 1 or 2 oz sizes.
Perfect Immune by New Chapter is a probiotic, whole-food multivitamin that provides comprehensive support for immune and natural defenses.
New Chapter LifeShield Immunity is an awesome blend of medicinal mushrooms packed with beta glucans that help potentiate and modulate the immune system.
Also, don’t forget to wash your hands often and disinfect when traveling. I like sanitizers by CleanWell, EO and Dr. Bronner’s.
The Problem: Sunburn
Because travel destinations are often at a higher elevation, near water, closer to the equator or sunnier than where you are coming from, sunburn can be inevitable. Make sure you wear a hat, stay out of the sun during peak hours and reapply a good mineral sunscreen. And if you do get burnt, here are ways to beat the heat.
To treat sunburn, try All Terrain’s Aloe Gel Skin Relief with healing herbs, Boericke and Tafel’s Califlora Calendula Gel or Boiron’s First Aid Calendula Lotion. And after being out in the sun all day, remember to stay hydrated with electrolytes. Coconut water is an easy way to get them, but Ultima Replenisher or Trace Minerals’ Electrolyte Stamina are powdered electrolyte drink mixes that are great for travel.
The Problem: Sleeplessness
Whether it’s jet lag or loud hotel neighbors, there are a variety of ways to combat sleeplessness.
Herb Pharm’s Relaxing Sleep Tonic is an herbal blend with valerian, sold in a small 1 oz bottle that’s convenient for travel.
Deep Sleep by Herbs, Etc. is designed to help with difficulties falling asleep, staying asleep or for low-quality sleep.
Sleep Formula by Pharmaca, containing melatonin, 5HTP and L-theanine, has worked well for many people.
Magnesium is great to take before bed to promote relaxation and calmness. Try Natural Vitality’s Natural Calm, Pure Essence’s Ionic Fizz or Kal’s Magnesium Glycinate.
You may also want to try an eye mask and/or earplugs to block out unwanted sounds or sights. The Bucky Forty Blinks Eye Mask is one of my favorites because it’s contoured to relieve pressure against the eyes.
The Problem: Digestive issues
Different foods, whether they’re too rich or just something you’re not used to eating, can also play a big part in the health of your digestive system.
Chewable Papaya Enzymes help promote healthy digestion by breaking down carbohydrates and proteins. Try Pharmaca brand or Natural Factors’ Chewable Papaya Enzymes. (Plus they’re delicious!)
Bring along more potent digestive enzymes in case you’re headed somewhere where you know the food is more challenging for your digestion. I like Megazymes by MegaFood, Digest Gold or Digest Spectrum by Enzymedica, Advanced Enzyme System by Rainbow Light or Complete Digestion by Enzyme Science.
Probiotics are always recommended when traveling to promote a healthy immune system and optimal digestion (see Traveler’s Diarrhea for shelf-stable recommendations). Begin taking probiotics a few weeks before travel to allow time for colonization in the gut. A belly with a powerful amount of microbial flora will protect you against harmful bacteria and viruses, helping you to stay strong and healthy during your travels.
WishGarden Digestive Bitters can help balance the pH of the stomach and ease an acidic tummy. Supports healthy digestive response and enzymes.
Hyland’s Upset Stomach is a homeopathic, charcoal-based formula designed to relieve gas and bloating from overeating or improper diet. Safe for adults and children.
UrgentRx Heartburn Relief comes in pocket-sized packets designed for easy transport, featuring 1000 mg of calcium carbonate for fast-acting relief of heartburn, acidic stomach and acid indigestion on the go, with or without liquid.
Ask a Pharmaca practitioner for solutions to travel problems not listed here.