Over the years I have often had the opportunity to share with patients thoughts about prevention and treatment of issues that arise during travel. Some people are nervous travelers and have anxiety about health anyway, where being in a far away place, or even just a place that is not home, is such a stress to the system, that illnesses tend to arise. Other people have no such tendency but find themselves, by choice or circumstances in areas where they are exposed to certain illnesses and would love to have some natural medicine support in both terms of heading off or handling first aid and acute issues that arise.

And personally when I travel, I do bring a small set of supplies to have on hand; not that many of these things cannot be found wherever you go, but when you are injured or do not feel well, the first thing you want to do might not be to strike out looking for a pharmacy, a market or a health food store in order to put your hands on some particular remedy, supplement or botanical medicine.

In terms of travel here are some recommendations for the actual lead up to the travel and during as well:

  • Hydrate!
  • Take a B complex vitamin, Whole Foods Brand 50mg B complex is good! This helps with the stress (even the good stress!) of travel.
  • Bring tea bags you like for on-board the airplane, ditto healthy, nutrient- dense, high fiber or high protein snacks. Avoid sweets and simple carbs.
  • If you drink alcohol, remember, it’s dehydrating, so chase with a glass of water.
  • Hydrate! (Again!!)
  • Get up every hour or two on the flight and take a lap up and down the aisle. Do progressive relaxation where you tense up muscles and let relax.
  • Standing yoga postures! Acupressure to face etc. The main goal on a long haul flight is to prevent swelling, keep the blood moving and being able to relax enough to get some rest/sleep.
  • Whole Foods Market makes a good low-chemical hand sanitizer- probably worth it for longer trips as are little packets of tissues.

I always remind patients to keep up with an exercise routine. Plan when and how you will get your exercise during your time away. This helps to raise your threshold for feeling stress, helps to release stress & helps you stay well perfused! Ditto for any relaxation or calming approaches you use such as prayer, meditation, yoga, etc.

For prevention/treatment of GI issues:

  • Probiotics in the am, one capsule helps create and maintain healthy flora throughout the gut, also helps to prevent infection (as the stomach is a secondary area of germ-fighting), Jarros is a good enough brand which has the added benefit of not needing to be refrigerated.
  • If you think you are heading toward diarrhea, use charcoal capsules or tablets to help to absorb the more illness-causing bacteria. This will turn the stool temporarily black. It will not absorb nutrients. Available at most pharmacies.
  • If you feel you are getting constipated, use instant natural oatmeal and or ground packaged flax seeds, easy to carry along and often does just the trick.

For prevention of cold/flu/sinus issues:

  • Daily dose of Vitamin C: 1000mg/day. If you are sick you can go higher, i.e. 1000mg 3-4x/day.
  • Bromelain- an enzyme derived from pineapple, 500mg dose with your Vitamin C, helps to thin mucous and decrease inflammation, very good at first sign in infection.
  • Nettipot or salt water sniff, helps to rid the nose and nasopharynx of bacteria and viruses that cause infection.
  • If you have gotten charcoal tablets, you can also suck on a tablet that will help you to absorb and flush out any “invaders.”
  • Same could be said for Zinc Lozenges (ZAND makes a good brand,) which work in two ways: kills germs on contact, and raised the lymphocyte count in the blood to support your own immune system’s efforts.
  • Ginger tea!

If there are issues of muscle, joint soreness or stiffness due to a fall or overexertion, you can use:

  • Vitamin C 1000mg 2-3x/day between meals with
  • Bromelain 500mg 2-3x/day between meals.
  • Zyflamend (by New Chapter) is a great combo anti-inflammatory to have on hand. Dose: Two 2-3x/day.

Safe travels and send a postcard!

Dr. Amy Rothenberg
115 Elm Street Enfield, CT 06082