Travel Healthy! Reduce Aeroplane Stress

Aeroplane travel will surreptitiously “suck the life out of you.” It sucks all the moisture out of your body.
With the humidity level in the cabins of most commercial aeroplanes at just 10-20%, (some are even as low as 1%!)(1), this makes aeroplanes drier than the Sahara Desert! which sits at about 25% humidity.

Take a good look at yourself in the mirror after travelling, especially if you travel a lot. If you are slightly in tune with your body, you will probably realise how much aeroplane travel accelerates your ageing process.

You may be surprised to learn the many risks associated with air travel.

For example, one study shows how bacteria can stay alive and continue to be infectious for more than a week on the arm rests, seat pockets, seats and bathroom doors of commercial aircrafts. The dry air is said to contribute to their extra-long life on airplanes.(2)

That’s not to mention the health risks associated with jet lag, dehydration, swelling and fatigue.

The good news is, I’ve compiled some effective strategies to buffer these risks. Incoporating just a few simple tips to your air travel routine will help lessen the impact of flying and help you feel more vibrant during and after your trips.

Altitude Shock = Dehydration & Dryness

Ever wonder why it is so easy to fall asleep in a plane? It is likely because the oxygen has been literally sucked out of your brain as the cabin is being pressurised.

When people flock to mountain towns to hike, ski or for leisure, it is very common for them to get altitude sickness. Even fit athletes who train at altitude can tell the difference when they climb to 3,000 meters. In a plane, this altitude change happens in just a couple of minutes!

Dehydration and body dryness is the most instant result of altitude shock.

If you are flying a lot and your body is repeatedly put through such drastic altitude changes, the effects become chronic. Chronic sub-clinical dehydration will first dry out the outer skin and then dry out the skin associated lymph beneath the skin. When this dries out, lymphatic flow is hampered, compromising its function of draining toxins and circulating white blood cells around the body for immunity.

Air Travel Survival Tools:

1. Pre-Hydrate:

For 1-2 days before you fly, make every effort to drink plenty of warm-hot water. Approximately 2-3L depending on your body weight. Fresh coconut water is also recommended if in season. On the day of your flight, sip hot water every 10-15 minutes to help further hydrate and support the lymphatic system.

2. Lubricate

Do Ayurvedic Self-Massage before and after trips or treat yourself to an Abhyanga upon arrival if available. This will not only counter the dryness but effectively move the lymph and circulate blood. Continue to topically apply oil as a moisturiser on the flight.
Pack a little Ghee as (the best) lip balm, or use the massage oil.

3. Shilajit

Used by Himalayan mountain climbers to gain energy for climbing at heights above 6,000 meters and to help oxygenate at high altitudes. The active ingredient of this ancient herb, Fulvic acid, has now been found by scientists to support oxygen and energy transport. Consider taking this herb around travel days.*
* It is best to take herbs in a therapeutic combination rather then by itself. If taking by itself, have 1 day break every 7 days. Consult an Ayurvedic practitioner.
– Pitta body types take caution as Shiljait is very heating and may aggravate Pitta.

Recycled Air

The Journal of Environmental Health Research reported that air travel increases the risk of catching a cold by 100 times because of the recycled air.

While exposure is unavoidable, we can increase our immunity and decrease our susceptibility.

Air Travel Survival Tools:

1. Nasya

My most prized aeroplane survival tool.
Nasya is an Ayurvedic technique which involves lubricating the nasal passages (responsible for immunity). Best is to use Vital Veda/Raju Nasika herbalised oil formula. Inferior but still effective is cold pressed black sesame oil.
Method: Tilt the head back and drop 1-3 drops in each nostril every hour so. The aim is to sniff it through the entire nasal passages, and even further to your brain.
Also pop a couple of drops in your ears to deal with cabin pressure.

2. Chywanprash

This trusted and popular Ayurvedic formula supports immunity. This is a classic remedy for supporting frequent travellers and mitigating your risk of catching a cold during a flight.
*Please buy quality product from a trustworthy source such as Vital Veda.

Jet Lag

Imagine air-lifting a dolphin from the Tasman Sea off the coast of Sydney, Australia to the Indian Ocean by Singapore in just 8 hours. Then, after a quick layover, air-lift that same dolphin to the harbour in Hong Kong in 4 hours. jumping-bottlenose-dolphinWould you expect that dolphin to ever re-establish normal migration patterns? If so, how long do you think it might take?

For humans too, this disruption of the body’s normal biological rhythms is very real.

Jet lag can cause fatigue and lead to cognitive decline, sleep issues, and even psychotic or mood disorders.

Air Travel Survival Tools:

1. Daily Ayurvedic Massage

Since your skin has more nerve endings than any other organ, applying herbalised oil will pacify the nervous system. Every square centimetre of the body’s skin is innervated by sensory neurons. These neurones are much happier when fed with herbalised oil, rather than left dehydrated to become irritated and over-stimulated. Learn to do self-massage.

2. Watch the Sunrise & Sunset

Watch the sunrise and sunset to re-connect with the natural circadian cycle. Natures rhythms will enter through the retina of your eyes to regulate hormones. Even if it means pulling yourself out of bed, it’s worth it, and beautiful.

IMG_0643

3. Ashwagandha

Considered by many to be one of the most potent adaptogens, this herb seems to support the body’s ability to adapt to such stress as that incurred by jet lag without the crippling impact.
– it is best to take herbs in a therapeutic combination rather then by it self. If taking by itself, have 1 day break every 7 days. Consult an Ayurvedic practitioner. I recommend the product Stresscom to get your ashwagandha in.

Blood Clots

20 million travellers will develop blood clots, or deep vein thrombosis (DVT) a year.(3)
The risk factors seem to be a combination of sitting still for hours in a pressurised cabin, lymph congestion, and dehydration.

Air Travel Survival Tools:

1. Get up and move regularly during long flights

• Walk up and down the aisles more
Yoga Asanas – find a more spacious place to do stretches – I usually go near the bathroom, back or front of a section, exit rows, rows with more leg room, empty business class areas, or my favourite, the muslim praying area.
• Stretch your neck, rotate ankles, wrists, as much as you can while sitting.

2. Herbal Support

If DVT is an issue with you, it is important consult a practitioner to tackle this problem. More complex herbs are required to dilate the channels.

3. As discussed above.

Hearing Loss

Airline cabins range from 75 decibels in the front of the plane to 85 to 100 in the back. A loud nightclub, for example, roars at about 100 decibels. The Institute for Occupational Safety and Health limits safe noise levels to 88 decibels for four hours. This suggests that there is potential risk of permanent hearing damage during frequent flights that last longer than four hours.

Air Travel Survival Tools:

1. Noise Reduction Headphones

If you are a frequent traveller, consider a set of noise reduction headphones, which reduce noise by about 40 decibels.

2. Nasya in the Ears

Pop a couple of Nasya oil drop ins your ears before flying. Keep the head on each side for about a minute for the oil to sink down deep down the ear drum.

Constipation

Very common due to jet lag, altitude shock and dehydration.

Swelling

Mainly caused by congested lymph system.
Causative factors of lymph congestion are almost all of the items discussed above, particularly:

  • Constipation dries out the lymph concentration on the gut wall.
  • Altitude shock affects cellular pressure, which is responsible for lymph movement.
  • Sitting still for hours may congest the lymph as their is no movement to pump the lymph and regulate the circulatory system.
  • Dehydration directly affects lymph flow.
  • Jet lag creates stress on the body, which is a major cause of lymph congestion.

Air Travel Survival Tools:

1. Vital Veda/ Raju “Shodana Vati”

Detoxification agent & whole-body cleansing purifier. 3-dosha blanching. Accordingly these herbal pills support regular bowel motions.

2. Triphala

*Not necessary if you are taking “Shodana Vati.”
Tripahla is a natural bowel toner that supports regular bowel movements. It can be used for short periods of time around travels without dependency. available at Vital Veda.

3. Sip Hot Water Frequently

Ensure you have a thermos with you to keep refilling. You’ll make best friends with the flight attendant, and perhaps contribute to the revolution of drink hot water rather than cold.

4. Avoid alcohol and caffeine.

These only dehydrate you further while in light.

5. Eat Very Light

It is very hard to digest in the air when you are not grounded and while your body is under such stress. Rather eat in between flights while you’re on the ground. If you get hungry in the air, eat a spoon or two of chywanprash or have fruit.

6. Vata Tea

Since the Vata dosha gets mostly thrown out during travel, a Vata tea can assist in balancing. My favourite Vata tea is from Moksha Ayurveda.

6. Tongue Scraper and Herbal Toothpaste

Don’t forget these in your carry on luggage for long flights to scrape away the ama (toxins).

7. Meditate More

Due to the harsh environment of an aeroplane, meditate as much as you like! It will buffer against jet lag, provide deep rest, and get you through the flight a lot more joyfully. Vedic meditation is recommended.

Don’t just Arrive Alive, Arrive and Thrive!

travel plane kit
my on-board travel kit. Also includes a thermos and some Vata tea bags.

 

References
(1) Robert Haru Fisher, http://www.frommers.com/articles/4606.html
(2) http://wireeagle.auburn.edu/news/1656
(3) “The Lancet,” New Zeland, 2003.
Credits: Dr. John Doulliard, Lifespa.com

 

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