Travel can do a number on your body

Travel can do a number on your body. Standing in long lines strains your immune system. So does racing to catch a bus or a plane. Recycled, low-oxygen air on flights exposes you to cold and flu germs. And eating new kinds of food of questionable safety can shock your gastrointestinal system.

But a well-stocked travel kit can keep you healthy anywhere, and it\’s a lot better than trying to find an all-night natural food store in Yellowknife or Bangkok. Here are the must-have natural remedies to take along to combat the most common travel ailments.


Travelling standby? During tense travel moments, try kava kava. A small dose during the day will help you relax for a big presentation or assist in appeasing your nerves while you wait in endless lines. Take between 45 and 70 milligrams in extract or capsule form three times a day. And if jetlag causes insomnia, higher dosages of kava kava will act as a sedative.


Peppermint oil can help relieve throbbing tension headaches. A few drops rubbed directly onto the temples helps ease the pain.

Digestive Problems

Ginger is a must in any travel kit, especially if you are prone to motion sickness. It\’s good for any kind of upset stomach or nausea. Powdered ginger in capsules is the most convenient form for travellers. Take 500 mg every two hours until you\’re feeling better. Bring along candied ginger if you\’re travelling with kids. If you prefer, add a few bags of ginger tea to the kit.

If you\’re prone to travel-related constipation, cascara sagrada is your best bet. Take in capsules or tablets (about 425 mg per dosage) with a glass of warm water before you go to bed and again in the morning if necessary (do not take if you have Crohn\’s disease/intestinal obstructions, or are pregnant, breastfeeding or taking heart medication).

Also make sure to drink plenty of bottled water. Long car rides and dry air on planes can dehydrate you, which contributes to constipation.

Combat the most common travel ailments naturally

Jet Lag

Pack your kit with an essential oil blend containing vetiver, which is particularly useful for jet lag. Into a base of two fluid ounces (60 millilitres) apricot kernel oil, add five drops vetiver oil, five drops geranium oil and two drops juniper or grapefruit oils. Use this balancing blend both in preparation for travelling and after you land by rubbing into temples, back of the neck and soles of feet.

Peppermint oil is also great for keeping you awake when necessary use on temples, or put a drop or two in a tissue and breathe in deeply. When you need to get some sleep, switch to lavender.

Minor Skin Irritations

Calendula salve is an all-purpose skin healer for dry or irritated skin, bites, cuts, minor stings or irritations and chapped lips. Simply rub on the afflicted area.

Strains and Sprains

If you plan on walking a lot, pack some arnica gel. It comes in an easy-to-pack tube and is great for sprains, bruises or muscle strains. Just apply a small amount directly to the affected area.

All-Purpose Oil

Lavender essential oil should be the number one oil on any packing list. It\’s \”the all-purpose essential oil.\” Antiseptic, anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial, it works on bites, stings and bruises. At the end of a long day of sightseeing or business meetings, put five to 10 drops in a bath and just soak and relax. Also use it to make a tension-relieving, hydrating spray: Add 10 to 15 drops of lavender and one teaspoon (5 ml) of witch hazel to a four-ounce (125 ml) spritzer bottle filled with water. It\’s even good for treating bronchitis, sinus infections and colds: Put three drops in a pot of steaming water, make a towel tent over your head and inhale the medicated steam.


If you\’re going to be in the sun a lot, bring along a tube of aloe vera gel. It will soothe minor burns as well as sunburn. Liberally apply the gel to any affected area. Reapply as necessary.

Colds and Flu

Echinacea is a favourite travel companion. Its ability to stimulate white blood cells makes it ideal for preventing or short-fusing colds and flu. Take it at the first sign of a sore throat or sniffle. In fact, some experts recommend taking it for a week before travelling to strengthen the immune system and increase resistance to new viruses you might encounter.

Packing Tips

Save plastic film containers for storing pills and lozenges; heavy plastic jars are best for salves. Essential oils, however, should be kept in their glass vials because they are volatile and can corrode a plastic container. Wrap the vials in small pieces of quilted fabric or bubble wrap and secure them with rubber bands. Make sure to put them in a waterproof case or sealable sandwich bag to protect the rest of your suitcase from unanticipated leakage. Then pack your travel health kit in your carry-on bag to keep it close at hand.

Air Travel Making You Ill?

According to recent research by the Mayo Clinic in the United States, vertigo, or dizziness, is the number-one complaint during air travel, requiring hundreds of emergency landings each year for medical assistance to be provided.

Vertigo can be caused by numerous health conditions, including circulatory problems such as high or low blood pressure, which can be exacerbated by a change in the cabin\’s air pressure. Even if you don\’t have any health concerns, stress and anxiety are key factors.

Symptoms include light-headedness, dizziness, loss of balance, distorted vision, nausea and vomiting.

Natural remedies, taken as early as possible before your flight, can prevent travel sickness. Take vitamin E (800 IU daily) to boost oxygen circulation. B complex, (100 mg daily) and vitamin C (1,000 mg three times daily) lower stress levels. Be sure to drink lots of water, avoid alcohol, and get out of your seat when possible to stretch your legs. If you feel unwell, use the vetiver blend and the ginger from your travel kit (see article).

Sources:, alive Encyclopedia of Natural Healing (alive Books, 1997)

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