When we travel, we encounter many different environments, foods, water, air, people and experiences. The important thing is to bring home memories, souvenirs and a healthy body. Many people encounter diseases, digestive problems, parasites and severe fatigue conditions when traveling, which can take months or even years from which to recover. I also have many patients who do not want to do any vaccinations other than what is required for travel. They seek out natural ways to prevent malaria, glandular fever, giardia and other noxious little bugs that can travel home with you. Even hepatitis A exposure common in many countries can be prevented with natural remedies.
I have traveled all over the world, even to Cambodia, Thailand, India, Egypt and many other countries that are thought of as "risky" for the health of our bodies. Just one example: when I was traveling in Cambodia with eight other people, one morning when I arrived for breakfast, there was only one other woman from the group. We discovered that everyone else was deathly ill, in the bathroom all night, feverish, vomiting, and that a French-speaking doctor had been called for. We had all eaten exactly the same things, we had all done exactly the same things, so what was the difference? The other woman and I had been taking a protocol of herbs and vitamins from every day throughout the trip.
So what can you do to have a healthier traveling experience? First, be healthy before you travel. Make sure that your immune system, liver and digestive system are all at an optimal level. In this way anything you come into contact with should be able to be handled by your body’s natural inherent defenses. Beginning one month before travel, make sure you are taking your vitamins every day, eating well, take a good liver support such as Milk Thistle and prep your digestive tract with a round of soluble fiber, bentonite compound and probiotic flora.
Now, the rules. There are definite rules when traveling to prevent exposure to bacteria and other pathogens for which your body may not have an inherent immunity. I have also included a few of my personal guidelines to just give you some food for thought:
Rule #1: Do not assume that if local people eat something, you can. Your digestive system is crowded with different bacterial strains than theirs, based on food experience, environment and heredity. You have to stick to foods that are similar to what you normally eat.
Rule #2: Do not come into contact with local water. This means no raw vegetables, fruit or salad, do not drink unbottled water, brush your teeth only with bottled water, and especially do not swim in local water.
Rule #3: Bring along a silky sleep sack that you can put inside the sheets of your bed, like a light-weight sleeping bag. In this way, it really doesn’t matter what the bed looks like... you’re in your own cocoon. I like the sleep sack from Magellan’s Travel Gear.
Rule #4: ALWAYS pack bathroom accessories including kleenex, toilet seat covers (in case there might be a toilet seat instead of a hole in the floor), urination cones (so you don’t pee on your pants or your shoes while squatting), and your own pocket toilet paper. Again, I love Magellan’s for all things tiny, packable and hygienic!
Rule #5: Never take out more than a tiny amount of money in a public place. I always go to the bathroom to take out money from my money belt or even from my wallet many times. That way no one can see how much money you actually have. Also, do not leave your money in your hotel room. Either leave it in the hotel safe, or carry it on your person in a money belt under your clothing. Also, never set your purse down. If I am carrying a purse, when I sit down I place it between my legs under the table. Because otherwise, it will be gone in an instant. Carry everything close to your person. May I also suggest that you only take one credit card with you and be sure to call the credit card company ahead of time to tell them where you will be traveling, for how long and to find out if there are any special restrictions on the use of the card while traveling. Then be sure to bring their phone number that is accessible from outside the U.S.
Rule #6: Do not wear anything flashy or expensive, particularly jewelry. It becomes an advertisement.
Rule #7: Do not speak loudly or be aggressive to local people. Respect the local customs, including dress, etiquette and try to have a sense of how things are done. This means to do your research ahead of time with a great guide book or even a friend who has traveled to the same destination before.
Rule #8: Your shoes are very important. Not only are you walking A LOT and over varying terrain, but often through waterlogged areas or other things underfoot that you would rather stay as far from as possible. There are many countries where parasites are able to actually enter your body through your feet, particularly any cracks or porous openings through the skin if your feet are especially dry. For this reason I always recommend to not wear sandals or open-toed shoes in these types of environments. Checking into what diseases and pathogens are typical in the area you are visiting can go a long way to preventing them coming home with you.
I have used these guidelines for years, and I have to say I have never had anything stolen or lost. I have never gotten ill while traveling and I have had an immense amount of fun. The fun part has to do with being able to indulge in local foods, different activities and living in a completely different environment.
In order to get the most out of your travel, you want to be able to stay healthy. So I recommend the following protocols for throwing caution to the tropical winds and basking in adventure. You won’t need all of them for each place you visit, so select the ones that are likely for the place you are visiting. You should begin any preventive regimens one week before leaving on your trip:
To prevent parasites: Standard Process Zymex II capsules — 2 capsules before breakfast and dinner, on an empty stomach. Herbal blend in liquid or tablet of Wormwood, Black Walnut Hulls, Stemona Root, Clove, Cat’s Claw, Pau D’Arco, Echinacea — dose before breakfast and dinner on an empty stomach. Make sure you take a sufficiently therapeutic dose of standardized extracts for maximum potency. Garlic tablets — 2 mid-morning.
Anti-Malarial Regimen: Herbal blend in liquid or tablet form of Barberry, Golden Seal, Pau d’Arco, Echinacea Angustifolia, Cat’s Claw — taken at a strong therapeutic dose at breakfast and dinner daily. Standard Process Immuplex capsules — 2 capsules at breakfast and dinner. Standard Process Cataplex ACP — 2 tablets at breakfast and dinner.
Your Personal Emergency Kit:
For Food Poisoning Symptoms — 2 tablets each of Standard Process Cholacol II and Choline every hour until symptoms abate, then 6 tablets of each per day thereafter. Cholacol II must be taken on an empty stomach once the symptoms have abated. Golden Seal Standardized Extract: 5 ml per day on an empty stomach.
Ears, Nose, Throat and Sinuses - 2 MediHerb Euphrasia Complex tablets three times a day on an empty stomach.
Histamine Reaction - 2 Standard Process Antronex tablets every half hour, 2 Mediherb Albizia Complex tablets every two hours and 2 Standard Process Allerplex capsules every 2 hours until symptoms have abated. Then continue with 6 Allerplex per day with meals.
Sprained Ankle — 9 Standard Process Ligaplex II and 6 AC Carbamide capsules per day with meals, 6 Standard Process Cataplex ACP per day with meals, 3 Mediherb Horsechestnut Complex tablets per day before meals and 6 Standard Process Cyruta Plus tablets per day with meals.
Complete Nutrition for Backpacking - Standard Process Standard Bars for complete multivitamin and mineral complex plus 6 Standard Process Calcifood Wafers per day for protein.
Skin Lesions - Standard Process Chlorophyll Complex Ointment, 6 Standard Process Cataplex ACP per day with meals, Echinacea Angustifolia topically and 2 tsp. twice per day on an empty stomach internally. Aloe Vera, Chamomile, Lemon Balm, St. John’s Wort & Calendula are also great topically.
Insect Bites or Burns — Standard Process USF Ointment and Chlorophyll Complex Ointment topically, Echinacea Angustifolia and Golden Seal topically and 10 ml per day combined internally on an empty stomach.
Excessive Gas and Bloating or Acid Stomach — 5 ml Chamomile extract per day before meals, suck on 2 Mediherb HiPep tablets before each meal until bitter, then swallow. You can also try 1 tsp of apple cider vinegar before each meal if you happen to be in a country that has any!
Insomnia — 3 Mediherb Valerian Complex tablets before bed works wonders. I don’t find melatonin to be helpful in most cases. When desperate, try sleeping in bed with your head where your feet would normally go, in other words grab your pillow and turn yourself 180 degrees. I know it sounds silly, but believe me, it works every time.
Motion Sickness — 6 Standard Process Ostrophin PMG tablets per day with meals. Also try a tonic of Ginger, Peppermint and Chamomile: 2 ml per day on an empty stomach.
Sun Stroke — try a tonic of Rehmannia, Ashwaganda, Ginkgo and Skullcap. Or you can try 6 Standard Process Drenamin tablets per day with meals.
Altitude Sickness — 6 Standard Process Cataplex E2 tablets per day with meals I have found to be the best option out there. Also adding for lengthy stays, 6 Standard Process Cardio-Plus tablets per day with meals and 2 OPC Synergy tablets before breakfast dinner. Gingko is the traditional remedy, but you have to take a strong therapeutic amount and begin at least a week before traveling.
Viral or Bacterial Infection — 9 Congaplex capsules per day with meals. 2 Mediherb Echinacea Premium tablets before breakfast and dinner. 3 Mediherb Cat’s Claw Complex tablets before breakfast and dinner. 2 Standard Process Cataplex ACP tablets with each meal. Golden Seal herbal extract with breakfast and dinner. 2 Mediherb Astragalus Complex tablets with each meal for acute symptoms.
Digestive Protection when indulging in strange local food — 2 Standard Process Zypan tablets with each meal. 1 Mediherb Digest tablet sucked on before each meal until bitter and then swallowed. 3 Mediherb Echinacea Premium tablets per day just before meals. 4 Mediherb Golden Seal tablets per day with meals. 6 Standard Process tablets per day between meals on an empty stomach and not with other medications or vitamins.
To Keep up your Energy — Try Standard Process Drenamin tablets, anywhere from 2 at breakfast each to 9 per day with meals, depending on the level of adrenal support you need. Eleuthero is another great choice. I like Mediherb’s Eleuthero tablets, and suggest 2-4 tablets per day just before meals.
So, I hope these protocols help keep you in optimal health while cruising through the universe.
Karen Clickner, N.D. is the founder and director of ISIS Holistic Clinic & The Waters of ISIS Body Purification Spa in Brookline, MA with offices in London and Geneva.