Pack these botanicals to make any trip a little easier
Airfare, hotel accommodations, and rental cars are probably the main things on your mind when you prepare for a trip, but planning to stay healthy is important, too. Digestive issues, motion sickness, and jet lag are common travel woes. So don’t leave home without your herbal travel emergency kit!
If you get queasy all too easy, think ginger (Zingiber officinale). Ayurveda calls ginger the “universal medicine,” and for good reason—it’s virtually a medicine cabinet in a jar. Ginger has long been recommended as a remedy for a lot of conditions, but no condition has been studied more in connection with ginger than nausea. Scientists have found in a variety of studies that ginger eases nausea and vomiting stemming from motion sickness. In an experiment with 28 patients, ginger reduced their nausea and their use of antinausea medications.
Ginger’s positive effect on motion sickness and nausea has been proven, so it’s not surprising that travelers use ginger in tea for these symptoms. It’s also effective for indigestion. It reduces spasms, absorbs and neutralizes toxins in the gastrointestinal tract, and increases the secretion of digestive juices including bile and saliva. Ginger contains compounds that soothe the gut and aid in digestion by increasing peristalsis (moving food through the intestinal tract). Several studies from India have demonstrated that ginger speeds up the time it takes the stomach to empty, a benefit for feelings of abdominal discomfort and bloating. Enjoy ginger as a tea, or take capsules as needed.
Constipation is common while traveling. For an easy fix, turn to Chinese rhubarb root (Rheum palmatum). Rhubarb is a cold, bitter herb that acts as a laxative. It is a bile promoter, which enhances bowel movements. Rhubarb is well-tolerated and is helpful for people of all ages. Use 3–12 grams, to bowel tolerance, per day, in capsules. Use it with warming carminatives, such as fennel or cinnamon, to avoid cramping. This herb is milder than senna leaf or cascara bark and less likely to create side effects.
You’ve finally made it to Paris. Now you’re awake all night and sleepy all day. What to do? Turn to valerian root (Valeriana officinalis) for help with jet lag. While valerian is powerful enough that you don’t need a high dose, it’s not so strong that you could accidentally take too much. It has a calming effect on the autonomic nervous system, and is a good short-term sedative that works quickly, offering a healthy, nontoxic alternative to strong prescription drugs.
Take valerian at bedtime for help falling sleep. The root decreases the time it takes to fall asleep; however, since it’s effective for about just 4 hours, it doesn’t necessarily improve duration of sleep. Constituents in valerian bind to GABA receptors, the same mechanism as Valium-type drugs.
A study in Phytotherapy Research demonstrated that people with stress-induced insomnia who each received just 600 mg of valerian per day for six weeks had significant reductions in total stress and insomnia. The majority had no side effects. Other research found that it may have an antidepressant benefit.
Suitcase packed? Now throw in some herbal care for minor emergencies. Is that Uber arriving outside?
You can turn to valerian root for help with jet lag. Take it at bedtime for help falling asleep.