Monday, June 17, 2013

Packing a Wellness Kit for Travel

Avoid travel stress by stocking a preventive travel bag.

A couple reads a map.
A few simple packing tips can help reduce stress when you travel.

Traveling can be stressful if you’re not prepared for the demands of new environments on your body. Focusing on preventive health through these tips can make your travel enjoyable.

  • Probiotics – Traveler’s diarrhea can turn a pleasant vacation into a nightmare. Natural bacterial ecology found in drinking water and food is different throughout the world. A combination of the probiotics Saccharomyces boulardii, Lactobacillus acidophilus, and Bifidobacterium bifidum has been found to be highly effective in preventing traveler’s diarrhea.
  • Ginger –Ginger has been used traditionally for all types of nausea. It may come in handy if you plan to travel by water. It’s recommended to take 1,000 to 2,000 milligrams of ginger root to prevent or treat motion-induced nausea.
  • Homeopathics – Small scraps, bumps and bruises can be hard to avoid. Having a few vials of homeopathic remedies on hand can help. I like to carry arnica for bumps and bruises, apis for insect bites, hypericum for small cuts and rhus tox for poison ivy.
  • Melatonin – Jet lag occurs when the body’s internal rhythms are out of step with the day-night cycle at your destination. Studies show that taking quick-release melatonin close to bedtime at your destination can prevent or reduce symptoms of jet lag for those crossing multiple time zones. Do not take melatonin if you have epilepsy or are taking warfarin.
  • Sunscreen– Nothing ruins a vacation in the sun quicker than a nasty sun burn, but there are some things to avoid when purchasing sunscreen. The highly respected Environmental Working Group (EWG) recommends consumers avoid sunscreens that contain oxybenzone, retinyl palmitate and those that have SPF ratings above 50. Look for products that protect against both UVA and UVB sunrays. Unsafe sunscreens have been shown to cause endocrine disruption and even increase your risk of developing skin cancer. See more at EWG's Guide to Sunscreens.

I hope this helps you prepare your preventive travel bag. Please contact a qualified medical professional to determine whether probiotics, ginger or melatonin would be safe and effective for you.

— By Joseph Garrett, ND, naturopathic doctor and resident at Bastyr Center for Natural Health.

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