Top Five Natural Remedies for Travelers
You never know how your body will react to the a new country’s environment. Changes in climate, surroundings, and food can be disorienting and uncomfortable. Plus, navigating unfamiliar lotions and potions in a foreign pharmacy can be daunting. As prevention is better than cure, be prepare by packing a few natural remedies. Most of these come in small containers that take up little space and can even be carried in hand luggage.
1. Lavender Oil
Long flights and strange beds can make getting a good night’s sleep difficult. For centuries, people have used the comforting scent of lavender sprigs under their pillows to aid with sleep. In the absence of flowers, a few drops of lavender oil on your pillow or rubbed on your temples have a calming and soothing effect. Numerous studies have shown that quality of sleep is improved by lavender. You can also pop a few drops in your bath water for a relaxing soak.
The best thing about lavender oil is that mosquitoes hate it! Instead of using toxic mosquito repellent, rub lavender oil over exposed skin and the mosquitoes will stay away. Its scent is much more pleasant than chemical bug sprays. The repellent effect of the oil does wears off after a couple of hours so reapply regularly.
2. Coconut Oil
Coconut oil is a miracle. It has many uses that make it a travel bag essential. Coconut oil can be used as a moisturizer and lip balm. After a long day on the beach or the ski slopes, your skin may feel a chapped and dry. It doesn’t take much to nourish your body and lips. It also makes an effective hair salve. Hair is easily damaged by the sea, sun, and extreme climates. Use coconut oil as a conditioning hair mask by massaging a teaspoon of coconut oil into your hair, leaving it in for a few minutes or overnight before rinsing it out. To smooth our frizz and fly-aways, rub a pea-size amount in your hands and run through your hair.
Coconut oil also has healing properties and can be applied to scrapes and cuts. It forms a thin layer over wounds to protect them from dust and bacteria and it speeds up the healing process of bruising by repairing damaged tissues. Furthermore, when applied directly to bug bites, coconut oil has been found to lessen itching and burning sensations and it accelerates healing.
Lastly, this miracle oil has anti-bacterial properties that help control, parasites, and fungi that cause indigestion and other digestion-related problems. Try a small spoonful of virgin coconut oil in your morning tea, coffee or smoothie.
New foods and drinks can sometimes disturb the microbial balance in the digestive tract. Probiotics are a type of “friendly” bacteria that may help with digestion and offer protection from harmful bacteria similar to the way the existing “good” bacteria in your body already do. It’s a good idea to start taking a probiotic a few weeks before leaving to build up the good bacteria in your system. You should also continue consuming it during your trip. Healthy levels of probiotics have been shown to support digestion, regular bowel movements, a strong immune system, and better energy levels. Foods naturally rich in probiotics include miso, sauerkraut, kefir, kimchi, tempeh and yogurt or can also be taken in the form of a natural supplement.
In order for probiotics to be most effective, they require prebiotics to act as food that fuel them. Prebiotics are non-digestible carbohydrates which can be found in many everyday, healthy foods. Examples of foods containing such digestion-resistant fibers include bananas, tomatoes, onions, honey, and garlic.
4. Aloe Vera Gel
The aloe vera plant has been used for centuries to heal infection and burns. It is often used in sunburn lotions for its soothing and cooling effects. For a natural and effective remedy, use a chemical and alcohol-free aloe vera gel. In addition to sunburn, it can be applied to burns or skin irritation and for cleaning wounds.
Injuries can happen anywhere. A fall on your skis or collision with your surf board can lead to some annoying bumps and bruises. Arnica, a perennial herb, is an age-old remedy for treating bruises, inflammation, sprains, and strains. It is believed to work by stimulating the activity of white blood cells in the affected areas and dispersing fluid that accumulates around damaged, bruised and/or swollen areas. This helps to reduce pain, swelling, and inflammation. Arnica also contains thymol which is an essential oil that fights infection. Furthermore, its properties boost the immune system help the body combat bacterial infection. Arnica creams should only be applied externally and never be applied to open wounds or broken skin. Although there are medical skeptics, there is anecdotal evidence and some clinical studies that demonstrate the effectiveness of arnica.
The above information is not intended to replace medical advice. Before using any of the above remedies, please read the information contained in each remedy’s package. Some people such as pregnant women or those on prescription medication may not be able to use certain remedies. Please consult a medical doctor prior to use.
Kathleen is a contributing editor to En Route Traveler. From a young age, Her parents took her and her sister on many adventures all over the world. Kathleen has lived in South Africa, London, and Paris. After five years of being a stressed corporate lawyer, she gave it all up to move to Nicaragua where she trained as a yoga teacher, learned to surf, and worked at the eco-lodge, Buena Vista Surf Club. Kathleen loves fitness, vegetarian cooking, contributing to the wellness blog, Hip and Healthy, and managing her own site, Super Fit and Super Food.