Natural remedies for travel ailments

From jet lag to sunburn, the body takes a beating while we’re out exploring the world. Some ailments can be assuaged by a well-timed painkiller, but there’s also a whole world of effective natural remedies that are easy to pack and handy in a pinch.

We asked Dr. Kate Brainard, one of the resident naturopathic doctors at Pharmaca, as well as Dr. Karen Hurley of Bastyr University for the best tips about staying healthy naturally on vacation.

Jet Lag


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Jet lag, which occurs when your sleep-wake cycle is disrupted by a flight across multiple time zones, can ruin you for the first few days of your vacation.

On flights, Dr. Brainard suggests using Miers Laboratory No-Jet-Lag, a blend of five homeopathic remedies that she calls “safe, easy to take, and proven effective in tests.” She also recommends melatonin. “Melatonin is the hormone our bodies make to regulate the sleep-wake cycle—taking extra in a supplement form may help to reset the cycle disrupted by jet lag.”

Travel AnxietyPhoto: Shutterstock)

Travel is one of life’s greatest thrills, but for most people it also comes with its share of stresses. Travel anxiety can really take you out of the moment, and since you want to enjoy every minute of vacation, it’s an affliction worth treating.

Dr. Hurley recommends Bach Flower Rescue Remedy, a blend of five flower-essence formulas, stating that it can be “very helpful.” Dr. Brainard suggests L-Theanine, an amino acid found in green tea that “supports mental calmness and relaxation by increasing dopamine and GABA in the brain. … without any drowsiness.” She also recommends kava kava, a popular ceremonial drink in Polynesia that “supports relaxation from tension, encourages a sense of well-being, and promotes relaxation of nerves and muscles,” all without disturbing mental clarity.

Motion Sickness

ds.For motion-sensitive travelers, Dr. Brainard recommends PSI bands, “adjustable wristbands that apply acupressure to help relieve the symptoms of nausea and vomiting.” She also suggests traveling with a concentrated-peppermint product, such as Pharmaca Peppermint Spirits or Herb Pharm Breath Tonic, and taking vitamin B6 or homeopathic Gelsemium Sempervire 30C by Boiron, both of which are known to relieve motion sickness. Dr. Hurley adds that ginger chews or ginger tea can also be helpful.

Traveler’s Diarrhea

With so much new input during travel, the microbial balance in the digestive tract can be easily disturbed. Dr. Brainard says, “It’s important to plan ahead and supplement with probiotics to give the immune and digestive tract a head start.” She suggests starting a good probiotic (such as Jarrow Formulas’ Jarro-Dophilus EPS, which doesn’t require refrigeration) a few weeks before leaving “to build up healthy colonies of friendly flora.”

And you can’t go wrong, says Dr. Brainard, sticking to bottled water from a trusted source and making sure to wash your hands frequently. If you are hit with TD while traveling, try UrgentRx Upset-Stomach Relief. These pocket-sized packets are easy to transport and can be taken with or without water.


When choosing a sunscreen, Dr. Brainard says that “it’s vital to always choose a broad-spectrum product that protects against both UVA and UVB rays.” Sun-protection factor (SPF) ratings measure only UVB rays, which are largely responsible for both burns and skin cancer, but it’s important to protect against UVA rays as well, since they “penetrate deeper and are responsible for premature aging and wrinkling of the skin.” Of the more natural sunscreen brands on the market, Dr. Brainard recommends Sanitas, Eco Logical Skin Care, Kiss My Face, Badger, La Roche Posay, and Alba Botanica products.

Treatment can’t fix a sunburn, but it can offer some soothing relief. Dr. Brainard recommends All Terrain Aloe Skin Repair with healing herbs or Boiron Calendula Lotion. She also notes that rehydrating after being out in the sun all day is important, and she suggests coconut water as a good way to get more electrolytes than with water alone.



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