July 14, 2017

By Virender Sodhi, MD (Ayurveda), ND

Summer Traveling tips

Many people like to go on a travel adventure during summer time. Whether you are traveling to spend time with your family, enjoy a vacation, or go on a business tour, it is a challenge to maintain a healthy balance during this time period. Traveling is fun, but it comes with its pros and cons.

When you are traveling, one of the most important factors is hydration. It is very easy to become dehydrated on a hot, summer day. Drink plenty of fluids and maintain a good water intake. Make sure you are drinking clean, filtered water or bottled water. In many Asian countries and even Europe, the water is contaminated. Therefore, bottled water is preferable. Sometimes, even the bottled water in foreign countries is contaminated. If you are traveling to a foreign nation, ask the locals who live there what kind of water is safe. Keeping hydration is very important. Drink 8 to 10 glasses of water per day to keep yourself hydrated. If you are traveling to a very hot place, make sure you are not low in salt. Add some lemon and salt to your water.

Avoid alcohol, beer, wine, coffee, and these kinds of stimulants, because they dehydrate you. You will drink one cup of coffee and you will urinate two cups out. Similarly, beer, wine, and alcohol are very diuretic and cause dehydration.

Another very common problem is traveler’s diarrhea. When we live in a certain place, the bacteria sets are different than the new place. There is a new bug, and the bacteria in our system are not used to that bacteria. When people travel from America to other countries, it is very common to get traveler’s diarrhea. That is why it is called traveler’s diarrhea. You can pick up amoebas, giardia, and some other forms of bacteria. To avoid traveler’s diarrhea, first of all, drink clean water. Secondly, eat lots of fresh vegetables. Do not eat anything which is under the surface, because that can be contaminated. Many Asian countries feed the sewage system to the farm. It can be contaminated with parasites, amoebas, and bacteria. Usually, green, leafy vegetables are fine most of the time.

To avoid traveler’s diarrhea, I recommend taking probiotics. I recommend 100 Billion probiotics, one capsule, three times a day. You must start taking probiotics prophylactically, because this will give you a balance of good bacteria. I have also put together a formulation called AP Mag, which is an anti-parasitic preparation. The AP Mag supports gastrointestinal and digestive health. When you go to countries like India, Thailand, China, or Vietnam, you are also exposing yourself to a lot of parasites like roundworms, pinworms, threadworms, and hookworms. These worms can also create its own set of issues. Recently, I had a patient who went to Myanmar, Burma. She came back and found out that she has a tapeworm. These parasites can create a havoc. AP Mag, which is a combination of herbs that have a repellant action, is also a prophylactic, a preventive action for getting the parasites. You can start taking these combination of herbs, one capsule, twice a day, ten days before you start your travel. Most of the time, you will be very well protected. Of course, you must watch your water and food intake.

The other problem which many Asian countries have is Hepatitis A, which is very common. Hepatitis A is food-borne, and we can get it from contaminated food chain. There is Hepatitis A vaccination available. If you are not into vaccination, there are liver herbs which can be taken to help the protection of Hepatitis. The product which I like is Livtone, and you can take one tablet, two to three times a day, ten days before going to travel. This usually gives you immunity from getting Hepatitis. I have given this formulation to many patients, and none of them has come back with Hepatitis.

There is also a recommendation for Hepatitis B vaccination. However, if you look at the Hepatitis B, the route of infection is through the blood, saliva, and sexual intercourse. If you can avoid that, I do not think there is any need to get a Hepatitis B vaccination. The herb, Phyllanthus amarus, has remarkable results in the prevention of Hepatitis B. There is Hepatitis E, which is also food-borne. If you take herbs such as Eclipta alba, Boerhaavia diffusa, and Triphala, which are part of Livtone, they have a protective action against Hepatitis E.

There is also a concern about the bug bites and bug-borne diseases such as malaria, chikungunya, and dengue fever. These illnesses inject parasites into you. Neem has shown remarkable results against these diseases. I would start taking Neem, prophylactically, one capsule, 500 mg, twice a day, ten days before you start your trip. Neem has many advantages. It makes you bug proof. The bugs do not like Neem, you will have less bites from the bugs, which is a great prevention. Secondly, Neem wards off malaria and even the more resistant form, Plasmodium falciparum. Neem also provides prevention from dengue and chikungunya types of viruses, which are also spread by the mosquitos.

When you are traveling, you are prone to getting other diseases like tick-borne diseases, which are very common in the Indian continent too. This includes Lyme disease. There are tick-borne diseases which are also present in the Asian countries. Neem has shown some good results in my personal experience. If you are using an insect repellent, I recommend lemon grass instead of the popular DEET. DEET is neurotoxic, and has been found to be toxic to the central nervous system. Lemon grass, on the other hand, is a natural bug repellent. Lemon grass contains citronella, a natural oil that repels mosquitoes.

There is also a concern about salmonella, which causes a bacterial infection called paratyphoid and typhoid. Salmonella is very common in the food chain, especially in the poultry meat and the eggs. What I found is that Turmeric works like a charm for this condition. Usually, you can start taking Curcumin, one capsule, twice a day, ten days before you go on your trip. You must continue taking Curcumin for ten days after you come back into your home country, because you might get an infection at the last moment. If you follow through, you can prevent getting the disease.

Another issue while you are traveling is anxiety and stress due to the travels. Plan yourself and write down notes. My son is very organized. He writes down the list of things which he needs to carry, including special documents. On one my recent trips to Mexico, my wife picked up the wrong passport. She picked up the old passport, and we ended up having a hassle with it. The officials ended up deporting us back home to the United States. Although we made it back the next day, it was an embarrassing situation. I encourage writing down what things you need to take along.

I learned from my son, Gunny, that if you make a list of things which you want to carry, it cuts down the stress. You can make a standard list when you are traveling, and keep it in your computer or your phone. Write down things as simple as your toothbrush and toothpaste. Look over your list before you go. That can be very, very helpful.

An herb for anxiety and stress is Ashwagandha. It is my “to-go” herb for any stress, anxiety, and insomnia. You can take one capsule of Ashwagandha, 500 mg, standardized extract, a couple of times a day. I have gone up to six capsules, three to four times a day, when I was under a lot of stress. It is a very non-toxic type of herb, you can easily bump up the doses. I have not seen any severe reactions with it, even in higher doses.

In addition to stress and anxiety, the other issue is insomnia and jet lag. With the time zones changing, you will have an issue with the sleep quality. One simple tool you can utilize is when you land at your destination, try to find the sun in the day time. Look at the sun, close your eyes, then open your eyes, get the full bright light in, close your eyes again, and follow these directions for five to ten minutes. Basically, what you are doing is you are resetting your retina with the orientation of the place you are in. This resets your pineal gland to the new setting, and syncs with your biorhythms and circadian rhythms, promoting the natural sleep. Also, doing the sun salutations is helpful. You can face the sun, and perform sun salutations.

Again, Ashwagandha is a good tool for you if you still have issues with jet lag and insomnia. You can use anywhere from two to four capsules every night. That will help you to relax, and you will sleep properly. You can also take Melatonin, around 3 mg. You can take one to two pills of Melatonin at night, and it will help you to promote some natural sleep. If you follow these simple tips, you will have a good sleep. You will better enjoy your trip, because good, deep sleep is so important for the overall health of the whole body and keeps your immune system boosted. Do not try to party too late when traveling, unless there is some special sightseeing you are going to do in the middle of the night.

Overall, you must relax. Do not indulge into too much sugar and alcohol. Try to eat fresh, healthy foods as much as possible. You cannot go wrong with enzymatic fruits and vegetables, which are rich in enzymes, such as kiwi, papaya, pineapple, and figs. These foods have enzymes, and they provide good antioxidant protection.

Try to sync with the mother nature, and have a wonderful trip. Folks, enjoy your journey. I wish you safe travels. If you have any questions, feel free to contact us, and we will try to answer your questions.