Naturopathic Travel Tips

Every winter, I am often asked about naturopathic recommendations for travel.  When travelling to another country, it’s important to consider what the health risks are for that location, and to protect yourself accordingly. The general goals of naturopathic treatment are to:

  • support your immune system, with a focus on optimizing the intestinal microbiome

  • reduce your risk of insect borne diseases

  • reduce your risk of digestive tract infections caused by contaminated food or water

  • prepare you with natural treatments for acute traveller’s diarrhea

 Basic Supplements to Help Prevent Food and Water Borne Diseases

1.  Travel Probiotic: I always recommend taking a daily probiotic when travelling to reduce the risk of digestive infections.  Healthy probiotic bacteria help to reduce the likelihood of pathogenic organisms colonizing the colon.  This is especially important if you have been on antibiotics in the past year, as your protective microbiome will already be compromised.  Look for a shelf-stable probiotic with a minimum of 25-35 billion organisms/capsule, ideally containing Lactobaccilus, Bifidobacterium, and Saccharomyces genera, the latter which has been shown to reduce the risk of diarrhea during travel. Probiotic supplementation should start several days before your trip.

2.  Herbal antimicrobial formula: I often prescribe a formula containing antibacterial and antiparasitic ingredients to take daily, containing ingredients including clove, oregano, and wormwood.  Because these herbs have antibiotic properties, they should always be taken at a different time of day from your probiotics.

3. Vitamin C: One of the best researched-based supplements for general immune support. Can be taken daily.

Appropriate dosing of supplements is always recommended on an individual basis.

For Acute Traveller’s Diarrhea

Typically symptoms of diarrhea, abdominal cramps, nausea, and bloating should subside within a few days. Persistent vomiting, bloody stools, and fever, especially in children, are all signs that further medical attention is needed.

Make sure you are staying well hydrated and replacing lost fluids with a low sugar electrolyte replacement formula or coconut water.  Consume easy to digest foods such as rice, nutrient-dense sweet potatoes, bananas, and applesauce.

Homeopathic Arsenicum album is a common remedy for helping to alleviate the symptoms of traveller’s diarrhea.

Increase the dosage of your herbal antimicrobial formula as per your personalized recommendations.

Avoid Insect Borne Diseases

Ticks, mites, and insects such as mosquitos can carry a wide range of diseases.  Mosquitos alone can transmit many types of illnesses, including yellow fever, chikungunya, West Nile virus, malaria, and dengue.

1. Cover up: Wear clothing with long pants and sleeves, and use mosquito netting in areas where mosquitos are known to carry the above infections.

2.  Bug Repellants: I prefer to use essential oil derived repellants instead of DEET or chemical based repellants, which carry potential health and safety risks for humans and the environment.  Look for a product containing essential oils such as lemon eucalyptus, citronella, and lavender.  Note that essential oils also carry a risk of toxicity, and must always be used diluted.  Natural repellants do need to be applied more frequently, ideally every 2-3 hours.

Further guidelines may be necessary based on your personal health history.  Book an appointment to discuss the best natural travel recommendations for you!

Nut-Free Granola Bars

Did you know that most commercial granola bars are loaded with…

factory-made sugar syrups and unhealthy fats? Homemade granola bars can be a great healthy snack on the go, and can also allow you to incorporate more nutrient-rich ingredients and superfoods into your family’s diet.

I originally developed this recipe using peanut butter and chopped almonds, however I’ve since adapted it to be completely nut-free, and it’s still just as delicious!

These bars are rich in protein, fibre, and healthy fats, and no baking is required.

Nut-Free Granola Bars

  • 1/3 cup pumpkin seeds

  • 1/3 cup shelled hemp seeds (hemp hearts)

  • 1/3 cup sunflower seeds

  • 2/3 cup unsweetened dried coconut

  • 3 cups quick cooking organic oats

  • 2 tablespoons ground chia seeds

  • 1/4 cup organic butter or coconut oil

  • 1/2 cup sunflower seed butter

  • 1/2 cup honey

  • handful of chocolate chips (optional)

  1. Lightly toast first four ingredients in a skillet over medium heat. Toss frequently for 5 minutes or until golden.

  2. Combine seed butter, coconut oil or butter, and honey in a small pot over low heat. Stir until warm and combined.

  3. In a large mixing bowl, stir together oats, ground chia seeds, and toasted seed mixture.

  4. Pour the warm honey mixture into the dry ingredients and combine.

  5. Stir in chocolate chips if using. These will melt into the granola mixture.

  6. Transfer mixed ingredients into a 9” by 13” baking dish. Pack down evenly with a spatula.

  7. Chill bars in refrigerator. Cut into squares and transfer to an air-tight container.

  8. Store in refrigerator for up to one week.

Enjoy!

The Healing Power of Acupuncture

Acupuncture is a therapy that has been used for over 4000 years...

to treat a wide range of health conditions.

Acupuncture points are located along energy meridians that are associated with different organ systems.  According to traditional Chinese medicine theory, when energy, or Qi (chi), is not flowing freely, health conditions or diseases can arise.  Inserting small, sterile acupuncture needles into specific points along these energy channels helps to regulate the flow of Qi through the body, correcting the imbalances leading to states of ill health.

From a Western point of view, the effectiveness of acupuncture can be attributed to it’s ability to enhance circulation in the area of treatment.  Studies involving MRI imaging of the brain have also shown that acupuncture has the ability to work at the level of the nervous system to help regulate the body’s response to pain.

Some of the more common conditions for which acupuncture has been shown to be effective include arthritis and joint pain, sciatica, hypertension, allergic rhinitis and seasonal allergy symptoms, headaches, and menstrual pain and irregularities.

Over the years, I have also commonly used acupuncture in my practice to help patients with smoking cessation, address obstetrical issues such as morning sickness and fetal malposition, prepare the body during pregnancy for an efficient labour, enhance the outcome of fertility treatments, support the immune system in the case of frequent or chronic infections, and calm the mind to reduce anxiety symptoms and help treat insomnia.  I often use reiki and/or cupping to enhance the healing process.

Overall, most people feel very calm, relaxed, and “rebalanced” after an acupuncture session. 

If you are interested in learning more about acupuncture, complimentary 15-minute consults are available to help determine whether this treatment modality would be a good fit for you!