At this time of year many of us are planning our holidays either in the UK or abroad. Compact, light to carry, easy and safe to take, inexpensive and legally transportable across international borders, homeopathic medicines could become your invaluable travel companion. All you have to do is learn a few easy rules for taking the right medicines, buy a small travel kit and away you go!
Your trip may be spoilt even before it begins by nerves and anxiety. If you’re feeing apprehensive or fearful about flying, or worried about what you might experience at your destination, the following homeopathic remedies may be helpful, and may assist in avoiding orthodox tranquilisers:
Argentum-nitricum is a remedy that can be used for fear, apprehension or anxiety associated with travel. It’s also suggested for someone who has a fear of heights and enclosed spaces (such as flying!), crowds, closed spaces or water, and who is over-talkative, busy and cannot rest.
Gelsemium is the remedy to take if, unlike the Argentum-nitricum picture, you become lethargic and silent with anxiety and apprehension.
Aconite is the main remedy for panic attacks, whether you experience them when flying, or when you encounter a frightening situation during your trip.
On the airplane
If you are an international traveller, jet lag may be your problem. The following homeopathic remedies can help with this debilitating situation.
Arnica is the main homeopathic remedy for shock; therefore it helps you get over the shock of jet lag caused by your body having to adjust from one time zone to another, and having been exposed to high-speed travel for extended periods of time.
Cocculus is another remedy for jet lag and can also be used for travel sickness. Nausea, especially when it worsens with the sight or smell of food, is a keynote of this remedy. You may feel extremely weak and dizzy and have to lie down, or you may have an empty or hollow feeling in your stomach.
For jet lag Arnica and Cocculus should each be taken twice daily, starting two days before, and three days after, your flight.
Another problem you may encounter during long flights is flatulence (wind) caused by pressure changes in the aircraft. Lycopodium is a very helpful remedy for flatulence, especially if there is bloating and discomfort aggravated by tight clothing.
If you experience earache when the aircraft descends, try taking Pulsatilla, alternated with Belladonna; these are especially useful for babies, toddlers and children who experience pain in their ears, and get upset and restless during flights.
Nausea during plane, car or boat travel can indeed ruin a trip. It can be alleviated by taking Cocculus, Nux-vomica,Petroleum or Tabacum.
Cocculus – see above.
Nux-vomica is recommended for severe nausea with an intense headache that may be at the back of the head or over one eye. There may be retching, with nothing coming up, or even vomiting. This remedy is also useful for traveller’s constipation, and any digestive problems you might experience from over-indulgence. It is also the best homeopathic hang-over remedy!
Petroleum is the right remedy for you if you experience persistent nausea while in motion, and an empty feeling in your stomach, especially if you feel a little better after eating food.
Take Tabacum if while in motion you get nauseous, faint, go extremely pale, icy cold, or feel very tired, with a terrible sinking feeling in the pit of your stomach. You may feel better with cold, fresh air or when closing your eyes, and it may worsen with any movement.
If you’re not sure which remedy to take, Cocculus, Petroleum and Tabacum can be used in combination.
Aches and Pains
It’s not uncommon to get aches and pains when travelling, either from cramped travel conditions, bumpy roads, uncomfortable beds or even just muscle tension. The best remedy for stiffness and pain in your back caused by having to sit in one position for a long time, or from lifting heavy luggage, is Rhus-tox. If you get a bruised back from travelling over bumpy and rough terrain, I suggest you take Bellis-perennis, especially if the bruised feeling improves with continued motion. If you get pain in your coccyx (tail bone) from this kind of travelling or injury, Hypericum works well.
Constipation and diarrhoea
Two of the most common and distressing travellers’ ailments are constipation and diarrhoea. Constipation can be caused by dehydration and change of diet, so it’s important to make sure you drink plenty of water and eat as many vegetable dishes as possible. It is advisable to eat cooked vegetables, rather than raw, in countries and environments you are not familiar with.
Remedies to help with constipation include Nux-vomica, which is helpful when there is a frequent and ineffectual desire to pass a stool, and Platina which is particularly useful for pregnant women.
Travellers’ diarrhoea is usually caused by food and drink contaminated with micro-organisms. In this case, the key homeopathic remedy is Arsenicum-album. There is often burning diarrhoea, accompanied by extreme tiredness, anxiety, restlessness, nausea and vomiting.
Phosphorus is the homeopathic remedy recommended if you have diarrhoea that leaves you exhausted, but is usually not accompanied by pain. The rectum has a loose sensation. You are usually very thirsty and there is a marked weak and empty feeling in the abdomen. You may feel better with sleep and taking cold drinks or food.
Take Podophyllum if you have watery, urgent, profuse and explosive diarrhea accompanied by much gas. You will feel worse with heat, movement and after drinking and eating. After having a bowel movement, the severe cramping and rumbling may be relieved, but you will be left feeling faint, weak, and empty until the next urging.
Take the indicated remedy for diarrhoea every two to three hours until the stool returns to normal. If it doesn’t resolve within five days, consult a doctor, as it might indicate a more serious condition.
Bites and Stings
Animal and snake bites are dangerous because of the risk of infection, poison, and bleeding, and require immediate medical attention.
An insect bite or sting usually causes mildly painful swelling, with redness and itching at the sting site. However, some people may be allergic to a certain kind of insect sting, or they may have been stung by a poisonous insect. If in doubt, medical assessment should be sought immediately.
Homeopathic remedies are very useful to take immediately after any bite or sting, as they can help relieve pain, itching, swelling, and reduce the risk of infection.
Ledum is the most popular remedy for bites and stings of any kind. The sting or bite may be accompanied by swelling around the area, a bluish tinge to the skin, a cold, numb feeling, and an ache. The affected part feels cold.
Aconite is a good initial remedy if you get extremely fearful and panicky after being bitten or stung. This remedy should be used immediately, and can be followed by another bite or sting remedy such as Ledum.
Apis is for bites and stings with burning and stabbing pain, and rapid, pink or red puffy swelling of the affected area. The affected skin may feel hot, sensitive, tender, and sore, and you will feel better when applying a cold compress or ice to the area. There may also be itching, especially at night. This remedy is especially useful for bee and jellyfish stings.
It should be noted that these remedies aren’t a substitute for medical attention. Any wound should be evaluated by medical personnel and receive appropriate first aid and emergency care.
Accidents, cuts and bruises
Arnica is the number one homeopathic shock and trauma remedy and you will know when to use it because the affected person says: ‘I’m all right!’ when s/he clearly isn’t! Arnica is especially useful for cuts, bruises and injuries that feel sore. Hypericum is for any accident that involves nerve pain or injury, such as getting your finger crushed in a door.
Coping with sun and heat stress
There are three main types of heat sickness: heat cramps, sun headache and heat exhaustion. As with all travellers’ woes, you can do a lot to prevent these problems by avoiding over- exposure to the sun, wearing wide-brim hats and sunglasses, wearing long-sleeved shirts and long trousers, applying sun screen every four to five hours, drinking enough water, reducing your alcohol intake, staying in the shade as much as possible, and having adequate rest, especially after meals.
If you do get heat cramps, the recommended treatment is to take one level teaspoon of salt in one-half litre of water every four to six hours, along with the remedy Magnesium phosphoric.
For a headache brought on by over-exposure to the sun, drink salt water as described above and take Belladonna. If this remedy doesn’t alleviate the symptoms, try Glonoinum.
Heat exhaustion is characterised by weakness, dizziness, faintness, and sometimes cramps, nausea and vomiting. Drink the salt and water mixture as described above and take the homeopathic remedy Carbo-vegetalis.
Exposure to the hot sun can also affect your skin and there are remedies to help. Prickly heat, characterised by intensely itchy, tiny blisters, can be alleviated by taking the remedies Urtica-urens, Rhus-tox or Apis. The remedy Belladonna will help you if you inadvertently become sun-burned.
How to find and take the homeopathic remedies
Homeopathic travel kits are available for purchase from various homeopathic pharmacies in the UK – I recommend Helios Pharmacy or Ainsworths Pharmacy Or you can buy particular remedies that you think might suit you.
There are various strengths or potencies of homeopathic remedies to chose from; and I suggest for self-prescribing you buy 6c (low potency) or 30c (medium potency). Most travel kits provide remedies in the 30c potency. Homeopathic remedies are usually sold as medicated sugar pills that dissolve easily under your tongue.
The remedies need to be stored away from direct sunlight and highly aromatic substances. Homeopathic remedies may lose their effectiveness if they are exposed to x-ray machines; and you can protect them by packing them in your main luggage or passing them over to airport staff to be returned to you at the other side of the x-ray security.
For most acute ailments you might experience when travelling, I advise you to take one tablet every two to three hours, until the symptoms are alleviated. If there is no response after three doses, either change your choice of remedy or consult a doctor. Always get medical help and advice if you are concerned about your symptoms – and happy travelling!