Minimising jet lag
Everyone knows that changing time zones gives us jet lag, especially travelling west (ie it is worse coming home from The States than going). Like working shifts, changing our sleep-wake cycle or circadian rhythm puts a huge amount of stress on the body, brain and immune system.
Secondly, the pressurised cabin has very low humidity levels so we will get dehydrated quickly and need to drink much more water than usual and will feel pretty awful, physically and mentally if we don’t.
What is less appreciated is that there are very high levels of radiation on long haul flights. This is because the atmosphere, which normally protects us, is much thinner up there, causing free radical stress which may leave us feeling tired and hung over, sometimes for days, even if we have flown north-south and not changed our body clocks. Radiation also affects our peripheral circulation which is why the elderly and folk with cardiovascular disease have to be so careful about DVTs when flying long haul, and all of us should be aware that we might not think and react as clearly as usual.
So what can we do to minimise all this?
Far and away, the best remedy I’ve found is Arnica 6x or 30x (good for all types of shock – whether physical or emotional) with a special Radiation Remedy recipe made from Bach Flower remedies by Ainsworths, which I usually keep in stock. The Austrailian Bush Flowers do a Travel Essence and Bach’s Rescue Remedy works well too.
For two days before you fly, take an arnica pill under the tongue, twice a day, away from meals, toothpaste or drinks.
During the flight, put 7 drops of the flower remedy into a glass of water and sip. Repeat this every four hours (when you are awake). Take one arnica at the same time.
Then take both, 2-4 times a day for 2-4 days afterwards until you feel yourself again.
The best way to correct your Circadian rhythm or your sleep-wake cycle after changing time zones is to plan to get at least an hour or two’s exercise, fresh air and above all, sunshine directly on to your skin and face for as soon as possible after arrival. Don’t wear sun glasses (even though you might feel like it) as sunlight on the retina stimulates the pineal gland to reset. Even if it is cloudy or raining, get out there! It will still help a lot.
Try and get into local time as soon as possible. Keep going until the locals are going to bed and you will hopefully not wake at 3.00am.
If you can take some Epsoms salts with you for a bath before you go to bed on the first night, that would be great. (My notes are on Epsoms salts baths are on the client area of my website).
Lavender and geranium essential oils also help us to rebalance and reset our sleep-wake cycle. Rub 6 drops of Lavender and 2 of Geranium into the temples and around the base of the skull at the back. Give the little bottle a good sniff. Lavender will also help with good sleep and protect against other passengers’ bugs during the flight.
Another good reflexologist’s tip is to put your thumb nail against the near edge of the index finger of you same hand and make small circles with the pad of your thumb. This stimulates the pineal gland point which governs your sleep-wake cycle.
To help you wake up and be alert next day, Rosemary is stimulating without the negative effects of caffeine. Either use essential oil or tea. Ginger and lemon tea is also good.
Drink ½ glass of water every half hour while on the plane and after. Ideally, put a few drops of Elete electrolytes and some vitamin C into your water bottle (after you have been through security).
Avoid the other sources of free radicals: Alcohol, coffee, anything artificial such as fizzy drinks, snacks (MSG), sugar and artificial sweeteners, non natural beauty products. Airline food is made long beforehand and microwaved, so won’t be ideal BUT getting ready to travel is stressful enough without fretting about eating perfectly and making elaborate picnics – and anything ‘liquid’ will be confiscated anyway.
So, ask for the vegetarian option (too much protein/processed meats, when you are sedentary will raise free radicals) and put some green tea bags and a little bag of almonds in your hand luggage.
If you have time to bung in some fresh veg sticks, fruit, muesli or hummus that’s brilliant, but don’t stress about it if you don’t.
If you do have time and are well organised, the best foods to take to quench free radicals are rich in anti-oxidants, so they will be brightly coloured.
Good ones would be:
Broccoli florettes, spinach-rocket-watercress salad, mung bean sprouts, cherry tomatoes, berries (mix into muesli) pomegranate seeds, satsumas, hummus (eat with carrot sticks, not crisps) mackerel pate (eat on oatcakes), raw nuts, pumpkin seeds (or grind nuts and seeds at home and make a muesli oats, apple juice and yoghurt). Fresh ginger; 4 thin slices in hot water for tea or grated into your muesli is also good.
Probiotics are also a good thing to take before, during and after your travels, both to boost your immune system against other people’s bugs and to support your digestive and detox systems. Ecodophilus from BioNutri or the BioCare ones are all good.
Fish oils and a good multimineral-vitamin and extra vitamin C with bioflavonoids
If you are in Fife or seeing me, I keep all of the above remedies and Epsom salts in stock (and can give you rosemary from the garden if you don’t have any!)