We have all been there; traveling in a developing country and suddenly you do not feel so great. Whether its stomach issues, cuts and bruises, insect bites or a nasty flu,
smart travelers should pack a good first aid kit, full of all those things you may need in case of an emergency.
Sadly, I have no travel plans this month but my girlfriend J is on her way to Thailand and asked me to share with her my traveling secret remedies. Of course, I want you all to stay healthy too, so I am forwarding my list of remedies to her and to all of you as well. This list of wonderful remedies is also in my medicine cabinet at home so if you are stuck here this summer like me, no worries, this list may still end up coming in handy.
Here is the list and it includes some great natural remedies that I love and that can help prevent many travel related ailments.
(This amazing photo is courtesy of my ex neighbor in Minneapolis, the talented Edward Bock. You can learn more about him and his work on http://www.edwardbock.com .)
By the way, this list is a work in progress and so if you have any remedies that you love, please feel free to share them with mesince my list is always evolving
1. Good Quality Probiotic
This is probably the single most important natural remedy you can carry in your first aid kit. Traveller’s diarrhea is one of the biggest issue most of us face when travelling through developing countries.
Probiotics increase the number of friendly bacteria in your gut and these little guys can help keep the not so nice ones in check. Be mindful that your immune system is closely tied to the health of your gut flora, so having a happy gut, will keep you strong and healthy as well.
The best kind to bring with you are ones that do not need to be refrigerated. So read the label carefully on the product that you choose and at least try and get one with 1 billion live strains.
2. Oil of Oregano
This is another great remedy that I always include in my travel kit. Oil of oregano has many different uses that can help you on your trip. Oil of oregano contains antimicrobial, antiviral, anti parasitic, anti allergenic and anti fungal properties. A study from the US Department of Agriculture showed that oil of oregano was effective against Salmonella and E. Coli bacteria. So if you find yourself coming down with something, whether its a stomach bug, flu, cold like symptoms or sore throat , take 3-5 drops under your tongue, 3 times a day until you are feeling better.
Just a reminder that oil of oregano is potent, so this remedy is not recommended for everyday use. Just use it when you think you need it. And brace yourself, the taste is quite strong.
3. Grapefruit Seed Extract
Grapefruit seed extract is a concentrated blend of pink pulp, orange skin and seeds of the grapefruit. Like oil of oregano, it is a potent antibacterial, antiviral, anti fungal. I always carry a little bit of this stuff while travelling to disinfect suspect food and water. Sometimes you may find yourself somewhere with no clean water to buy. You can put a few drops of this into questionable water to kill anything in there that could make you sick. Sometimes while travelling on long bus rides, your only choice for food may be street vendors. I have put this stuff directly onto sketchy looking food to make it safer for consumption.
When buying grapefruit seed extract, make sure to find a good quality brand. Some products have been found to contain synthetic additives which could cause you harm. Visit your local health food store and talk with someone in the know.
Magnesium has a couple different applications that can be useful during travelling. Taken orally, magnesium has the ability to relax the intestines and colon. This is a great thing to take if you are experiencing constipation. There is nothing worse than being on some remote backcountry trek and being all blocked up. It can make you bloated and irritable. Magnesium can clear this issue up within 24 hours.
Since magnesium is a relaxant, it is also great to take at night before bedtime. So if you ever experience insomnia while travelling, magnesium can calm you nerves and help you get that much needed rest.
There are a variety of forms of magnesium available out there and they are all not absorbed equally in your system. The best forms are magnesium glycinate and magnesium taurate.
5. Activated charcoal
This supplement is good for relief from food poisoning, gluten exposure if you need it, stomach bugs, gas, bloating and diarrhea. It reduces toxicity by adsorbing chemicals in the GI tract. Be sure to take with plenty of water and stay very well hydrated with clean filtered water while taking this supplement.
6. Ginger capsules or ginger chews
Great remedy for tummy upsets, including motion sickness, morning sickness and gas.
7. Echinacea and Goldenseal
Echinacea helps support a healthy immune system, and has antibacterial and antibiotic properties. If you start to feel an illness coming on, dosing yourself with a tincture of echinacea is a good way to help you stay healthy.
Goldenseal is a powerful antibacterial, antibiotic, and antiparasitical potion. In powdered form, it can be applied to open cuts to help them from getting infected. You can also take this internally for infections as it acts as a natural antibiotic.
8. Lavender essential oil
Lavender essential oil is my favorite essential oil because it smells divine but also because it can be used topically on the skin for irritations, wounds bites and burns and also can be used to help with insomnia, anxiety and headaches. For most people, it can be applied directly to the skin. One drop takes the swelling and itch out of mosquito bites. It is an anti-inflammatory and has antiseptic properties.
9. Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is a great natural moisturizer. This stuff can be incredibly hydrating if you are travelling in a country with a dry climate. You can rub this stuff all over your body and it makes your skin soft, smooth and shiny. Using this product is truly the best thing you can do for your skin. It can offer protection against a number of harsh weather conditions including wind, sun and snow. I often put coconut oil on my lips when they are chapped and in need of some TLC. Aside from being a great natural lubricant, coconut oil also contains a little SPF and it does have some antimicrobial and antifungal properties as well so can also be used for calming a number of skin conditions including rashes, eczema and acne.
Of course, you shouldn’t just stock your first aid kit with natural remedies. It is always good to have some good backups, just in case, especially if you are travelling to remote areas with little access to emergency services.
If you stock your first aid kit with these things, and make sure to take your probiotic everyday, your chances are high of having the healthiest trip you have had yet.
Safe travels and namaste!