Long distance travel can be challenging. Lack of physical activity, muscle stiffness, jet lag, dreary layovers, poor air circulation, low quality food, coughing passenger and anxiety over flying in tight, cramped quarters are only some of the challenges associated with travel. I have made a few difficult journeys in my forty five years, some of them to very foreign lands and I have suffered much. However, I have also acquired a few points of wisdom during this time, both as an eager explorer and also as a naturopathic physician. Here are a few suggestions that will help to keep you strong, healthy during your travels.
Restricted movement and lack of physical activity often pose the biggest challenge. Regardless of your state of health, sitting for long periods of time causes blood in your lower body to pool, leading to poor circulation at best and increasing the risk for clot formation at worst. I recommend getting up and walking around at least once every hour, and once every thirty minutes if you smoke or are taking any medication that increases your risk of clots such as birth control pills or hormone therapy. For those who are diabetic or have a history of strokes, you may want to consider taking nattokinase, a fermented soy product that has a profound ability to break down clots. If you are concerned about your tendency to develop a clot, have your physician test your blood prior to your flight: a high c-reactive protein, fibrinogen, apolipoprotein B (which makes your blood “stickier”) and homocysteine are signs that you may need some anti-clot support! Garlic, cayenne, ginger, ginkgo, vitamin E and l-arginine are nutrients that are immune stimulating, prevent the formation of clots and are vasodilating.
Drink a lot of water. Have one or two quarts on hand at least. Additionally, bring homemade food with you onto the plane, with lots of fruits and vegetables. This will help provide you with wholesome antioxidants and provide an alternative to airport food that is likely highly processed. Another therapy I often use is adding a small amount of goldenseal, echinacea, usnea, and myrrh to saline nasal spray bottle and aspirate the fluid through my nostrils every hour. This keeps my sinuses and throat lined with antimicrobial constituents that provide long term protection.
Sleeping can be another issue, both on the journey and upon arrival at the destination. To help you relax and make sleep more available, I recommend taking a tincture of kava, valerian, hops, passionflower and st. johns wort. These herbs will relax the mind, provide anti-viral support and help you to sleep. Melatonin (one half to three milligrams) at the start of the journey and during the first evenings upon arrival will go a long way to minimize jet lag. If anxiety prevents you from sleeping, low dose 5-HTP or theanine may be helpful, but I advise having a brief consult with your naturopathic physician before using these medicines as they have a small chance of interacting with certain prescription medications. Following this advice will make your journeys illness free!
Dr. Daniel Smith is a naturopathic physician who practices at Bear Creek Naturopathic Clinic at 1012 E. Jackson St. in Medford. He can be reached at 541-770-5563. If you would like to meet with him prior to setting up an appointment, Dr. Smith offers complementary 15 minute consults