A recent trip to Portland, OR, had me thinking about staying healthy on the road, and the unique ways in which I do it. Without a second thought, I pack charcoal capsules and a handful of ginger chews when I travel, but I realize that this is not the norm! So, I've compiled a handy list of essentials in my travel bag to satiate what I'm sure is burning curiosity. ;)
Essential oil-scented scarf
As I mentioned on Insta a few days ago, a colleague once recommended I lightly scent a scarf with antimicrobial essential oils and wear it over my nose and mouth while cruising at 36,000, as a sort of filter against the toxic windstorm in aircraft air conditioning. I can honestly say that since I've started doing this, I am no longer a guaranteed victim of the biological war zone! If I do feel a little run down after traveling, some acute immune support is typically all I need to bounce right back. Thank goodness for functional fashion!
Suggestions: thyme, rosemary, eucalyptus, peppermint, tea tree, or Thieves if you're into Young Living* (not an official endorsement or anything, but Thieves is pretty effective). Also, don't go too wild on the oils--some fellow passengers may be sensitive to scents, so use them sparingly.
When we travel, our microbiome (that is, the bacteria that inhabit our bodies--both "good" and "bad") responds to new stressors and our new environment. I love taking along a probiotic product that does not need refrigeration, so that I can supplement beneficial flora when my body needs it most. Make sure your product is shelf stable by carefully reading labels and asking a professional if you're unsure, since non shelf-stable products will certainly perish in the heat of travel. Look for a probiotic with both lactobacillus and bifido strains for the biggest impact.
Suggestions: I like Jarro-Dophilus EPS by Jarrow*, since it comes in convenient shelf-stable blister packs, has a hefty dose of a few different strains of bacteria, and is totally affordable.
Echinacea and elderberry tea bags
While some people like to give themselves an extra immune boost via vitamin C packets or tablets, my sensitive tummy can't really handle high doses of the vitamin. Instead, I tend to reach for my kettle and brew up some herbal assistance. I love carrying immune-boosting tea blends with me on the plane, so that when drink service comes around, I've got medicine on demand.
Suggestions: I use Traditional Medicinals* Echinacea Plus tea, because it includes two different species of echinacea and a potent echinacea extract. Make sure to cover your tea (if possible) and let steep for at least 5 minutes before drinking to really extract those beneficial compounds into the cup.
Ginger is a largely overlooked herb/spice, and is a true hero at my house! Ginger is excellent for nausea and safe for people of all ages and pregnancy statuses, so it's an obvious choice for me. I always line my pockets with ginger chews, even when I'm not traveling, because they're cheap, easy to use, and totally inconspicuous.
Suggestion: The Ginger People* Gin-Gins are hands-down, the best. They pack a lot of spice into that chewy little candy, which makes tummy troubles and nausea disappear within minutes. I have literally bought 3-pound bags of them on Amazon in my obsession. Clearly, there is no shame in my game.
Homeopathic Nux vomica
I know some people are pretty leery of homeopathy, and although I adore the medicine, I get it. So, if this isn't your cup of tea, no worries, but I thought I'd throw it in anyway. Nux vomica is an incredible remedy to cure anything you've done in excess. Had a little too much to drink last night? Pop a few pellets of Nux. Tummy a little sour from your 8-course Moroccan feast? Nux in some water might help. Fussy from burning the midnight oil during a late-night work marathon? Take the edge off with Nux.
Suggestion: There are several dilutions of homeopathics that are commercially available, and I like to go middle of the road with the 30C dilution for most situations. Try 3-4 pellets under the tongue when you're feeling crappy.
Activated charcoal capsules
Activated charcoal is another awesome remedy for tummy troubles (are you sensing a theme here? Ha!), and is super cheap and easy to use. Think of charcoal as the ultimate toxin binder: it literally absorbs toxins swimming around in your belly and bloodstream, rendering them neutral. This product is especially useful if you're suspecting that your bowels have been the victim of a food-borne illness, and can also help with the headaches associated with infections or exposure to toxins. Although conventional approaches to diarrhea from food poisoning would avoid stopping excretion (because we want to get that pathogen out of the body, understandably), using charcoal as a binder would neutralize the effects of the pathogen while also safely stopping the diarrhea. It's truly a win-win!
Suggestions: most conventional physicians have been exposed to the use of charcoal as a safe anti-diarrheal remedy, especially when traveling abroad, but be sure to speak with your doctor before using.
While not technically a "naturopathic" technique, I use crystals for a variety of situations. While traveling, I especially like to carry stones that keep me in balance, working on both the root chakra and the crown chakra. For my last trip, I chose a vintage ring with tiger's eye to help balance my root chakra and protect me from untoward energy. I also brought a cage necklace pendant with amethyst slipped inside to balance my crown chakra, keeping me connected to intuition and spirituality. Jewelry is an awesome way to surround yourself with crystal energy, but if you've only got some loose stones, feel free to stick 'em in your pocket or bra for an equally effective spiritual practice.
Suggestions: honestly, whatever you're drawn to is what you need, so no suggestions on my part needed here.
I hope that this little glimpse into my carry-on luggage inspired you to bring along some naturopathic allies of your own on your next big adventure. Happy and healthy travels!
*I am not affiliated with these companies, and have received no compensation for mentioning their products here.
About the Author
Sarah Ouano is a naturopathic doctor and writer. A fierce advocate for health equity and rights of the marginalized, she frequently writes about the intersection of naturopathic medicine and public health, throwing in personal anecdotes and tasty (and practical) recipes along the way.