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!