Natural Therapies for Jet Lag

Australia lies in splendid geographical isolation. Unfortunately, this means a plane journey of between 8 and 24 hours if we want to travel overseas for holiday or work.

Jet lag occurs when our body clock ‘lags’ behind (or in front) of local time. Symptoms of jet lag include; fatigue, sleepiness during the day, trouble concentrating, sluggishness, clumsiness and generally feeling ratty. Jet lag is made worse by travel fatigue. Sitting down for hours in seats designed by Leggo, squished side-by-side like a can of sardines, our muscles are bound to cramp and tire. Even sardines get to lie down.

Reducing Jet lag

The trick is you set your watch to the local time of your destination. This means that you try to sleep when it is night-time at your destination, and eat at your destination’s meal times. Speaking of eating, it is best to eat lightly, so you don’t feel like a stuffed trout — salads and fruit, instead of sugar and starch. The air circulating in planes is as dry as a chip and dehydration adds to jet lag, also triggering sinusitis, headaches and blotchy skin. Aim to drink one glass of water an hour while on the plane. And before you take-off make sure you are fully hydrated (this does not mean ‘tanked’) for the 24 hours prior to take off, drinking at least 2 litres of water.

The downside to drinking all this water is the need to urinate, which can be inconvenient when you are in the middle seat. However, the trip to the loo can double as ‘exercise’. We need to exercise to prevent swelling of the ankles and legs, and to prevent deep vein thrombosis, a potentially fatal condition that comes from being cramped in a confined space for hours. Why not make the exercise fun? If you were good at hurdles at school, use the food carts in the aisles to practice your jumping skills — the hosties won’t mind a bit. More sedate exercise involves circling your feet and ankles, hands and wrists, lifting each thigh for twenty seconds, while pulling in your tummy. Looks odd, but works a treat.

Other tips:

  • Arnica, a homoeopathic remedy, is terrific for jet lag. Take a dose every couple of hours of the flight, and for a day after you arrive.
  • If you are an anxious flyer, take a dose of Rescue Remedy before and during the flight. Kava is also excellent for creating calm.
  • Take Ginseng and a B complex in the ‘morning’ to give you energy and Valerian and Passionflower at ‘night’ to help you sleep.
  • The herb Vitex agnus castus (Chaste tree) is thought to improve melatonin levels. Melatonin is the hormone that helps regulate our circadian rhythm. Take a dose with each meal.
  • When you arrive, if it is night-time try to sleep or do relaxing things like a hot bath with lavender oil. If it is day-time spend some time outside in the sunshine to adapt to the new time zone.
  • If you have the time, try to break up your journey with overnight stops. This will greatly reduce jet lag and your bank balance.
  • Travel first class. French champagne is well known to prevent jet lag and travel fatigue. When sleepy, snuggle in between those crisp white sheets and remember your earplugs to help to reduce the bleating sounds from cattle class.