The Best Natural Remedies for Travel

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I like to be prepared for anything when I travel, whether Im headed out to my brother Jakes house for days of holiday feasting and excellent wines, or across the country for a multicity business trip. The remedies I take along help me beat—or prevent—minor problems, fast.

Thankfully, my travel-related health problems aren't usually a big deal, although they can put quite a damper on my trips. Here are a few of my more common ailments.
  • I cant sleep well in an unfamiliar bed, because I hate most pillows (OK, Im a pillow diva) and because business trips stress me out.
  • Germy, dry airplane air gives me sore throats and colds.
  • Eating unwisely on the run and indulging in rich holiday treats at irregular hours challenges my digestion and makes it respond in unattractive ways.
  • Then theres the unexpected: Though I never get carsick, on a recent trip a colleague drove maniacally through the back streets of a desert city on a really hot day (with no air conditioner), and I kicked myself for forgetting to carry my favorite nausea remedy. Thats a mistake I wont be repeating anytime soon.

Heres what I bring with me when I travel.

For jet lag
Pycnogenol, an extract made from the bark of French pine trees, lessened jet lag symptoms in a recent Italian study of 133 people. People whod taken Pycnogenol after flights lasting seven to nine hours had 56% fewer symptoms (insomnia or irregular sleep patterns, irritability, disorientation/grogginess, mental performance issues, headaches, and other common physical symptoms) than people who took a placebo. Whats more, jet lag symptoms for people who took Pycnogenol lasted for an average of 18.2 hours, compared to 39.3 hours in the placebo group. Full disclosure: This study is so new Ive just finished reading it and I havent tried it for jet lag. But I will next month, when Im headed to Denver and L.A. on business.

In other studies, Pycnogenol has been proven to reduce leg and ankle swelling during long flights. Experts think that Pycnogenols ability to improve circulation may be why it works.

To use: Take 50 milligrams of Pycnogenol three times a day for a week, starting two days before takeoff. Find it at VitaminShoppe.com.

For sleep problems
Because I tend to experience insomnia when away from home, I always pack a little bottle of lavender essential oil. Its a proven sleep enhancer; in a study of 31 people, psychologists at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Conn., learned that inhaling lavender helps sedate and promote deep sleep. I shake a few drops on my hotel pillows and the lovely aroma immediately relaxes me—dont worry, its invisible and wont stain linens.

If lavenders not enough to help you drift off, bring along a bottle of Deep Sleep, an herbal formula from master herbalist Daniel Gagnon. It contains extracts from proven sleep herbs, including valerian, passionflower, chamomile, lemon balm, and California poppy—as well as orange peel to slightly mask its strong, herby taste. Youll wake feeling rested, not dopey. Available in tincture or soft gels (good if you hate the way herbs taste) at health-food stores or from HerbsEtc.com.

Next Page: Motion sickness, infection, stress, and digestion

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