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%, and some 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 armrests, seat pockets, seats and bathroom doors of commercial aircrafts. The dry air is said to contribute to their extra-long life on aeroplanes. (2)

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

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.

The good news is, I’ve compiled some effective strategies to buffer these risks. Incorporating 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.

Air Travel Survival Tools

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 and local.

On the day of your flight, sip hot water every 10-15 minutes to help further hydrate and support the lymphatic system.

Lubricate

Perform Ayurvedic Self-Abhyanga (Massage) before and after trips or treat yourself to an Abhyanga if available, especially upon arrival.

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 lip balm, or use the massage oil.

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 than by itself. If taking by itself, have 1 day break every 7 days. Consult an Ayurvedic practitioner for a proper formulation and prescription. 

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

Nasya

My most prized aeroplane survival tool.

Nasya is an Ayurvedic technique which involves lubricating the nasal passages (responsible for immunity).

Oil to use:  Vital Veda/Raju Nasika herbalised oil formula is superior. Inferior but still effective is Anu Tailia or cold pressed 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 up to your brain.
Also pop a couple of drops in your ears to deal with cabin pressure.

Learn about Nasya more here

Immune Boosting Rasayana (Elixir)

Ananda Siddhi Yog
Highly nourishing to the body and boosts immunity, strengthens and repairs all the seven layers of the dhatus (tissues) and gives all the refined nourishment you need for rapid healing. Very good for chronic coughs (strengthens the lungs) and restores physical vitality.
This is superior to Chywanprash.
Take 1 tsp 1-2x/day. Contact Vital Veda to order.

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 a quality product from a trustworthy source such as Vital Veda or Maharishi Ayurveda.

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.

Would 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

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.

Watch the Sunrise & Sunset

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

Ashwagandha

Considered by many to be one of the most potent adaptogens, this herb supports the body’s ability to adapt to stress like that incurred by jet lag and prevent you from absorbing 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 a quality Ayurvedic practitioner. I recommend the product Stresscom as a good source of ashwagandha.

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

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, near the staff stations, 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.

Herbal Support

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

Rest As Mentioned 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

Noise Reduction Headphones

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

Nasya in the Ears

Pop a couple of Nasya oil drops in your ears before flying. Hold the head on each side for about a minute for the oil to sink down deep down into the eardrum.

Constipation

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

Swelling

Mainly caused by congested lymph.
Causative factors of lymph congestion are almost all of the idea 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

Vital Veda / Raju Shodana Vati

Detoxification agent & whole-body cleansing purifier. 3-dosha blanching. Accordingly these herbal pills prepared by the Raju family will support regular bowel motions.

Triphala

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.

*Not necessary if you are taking “Shodana Vati.”

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.

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.

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.

Avoid Caffeine and Alcohol

These only dehydrate you further while in the flight.

Tongue Scraper and Herbal Toothpaste

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

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

Don’t just Arrive Alive, Arrive and Thrive!

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

Tulsi (Holy Basil) – The Queen of Herbs

Described as the most holy plant on earth in the ancient Vedic texts, Tulsi is still revered today as holier than holy.

For millennia, tulsi has been grown for spiritual purposes in the backyards of most Indian homes. It's branches are carved into beads and worn to enhance spiritual progress. Its fragrance is used to purify temples and the leaves are used in sacred ceremonies to honour God and heighten one’s awareness.

What is not commonly known about the Tulsi plant are its best kept secrets, it’s medicinal value.

It's beneficial properties were originally undiscovered because the plant was so sacred that people wouldn't ingest it out of reverence and respect.

In Ayurveda, this miraculous plant literally heals and links one’s body, mind and spirit.

English name: Holy Basil
Botanical name: Ocimum Sanctum
Also known as: The Queen of Herbs

Adaptogen to Stress

Interestingly, tulsi is both spiritual and medicinal for the same reasons.
Tulsi not only helps protect the body from the degenerative effects of stress but also repairs the body from the damage done.

These are the properties of an adaptogen and tulsi is emerging as one of the world’s finest.

Tulsi treats the body at such a deep level that it steps in before the symptoms arrive, preventing stress from manifesting into disease. There is no doubt that stress is the leading cause of disease and western science is combating this by recommending a daily adaptogen.

Choosing An Adaptogen

While most stress-fighting adaptogens have hidden stimulating properties, few claim the ability to rejuvenate rather than stimulate.

Before choosing your daily adaptogen, take the product before bed. If you cannot sleep after taking it, it may be a stimulant in disguise, (e.g. ginseng) and not a pure enough adaptogen to be taken daily.

Tulsi has rejuvenating properties that boosts energy in the morning and because it is not a stimulant, supports deep restful sleep when taken before bed.

Anti-Bacterial & Anti-Viral

“How can you cure Ebola disease?” someone asked my teacher in a lecture in late 2014, when the largest Ebola epidemic in history was affecting West Africa.

Dr. Padma Raju replied: “Dip Tulsi leaves in hot water and chew, this is what they really need [in Africa] now.”
This is because Tulsi’s specific/special action (“Prabhava’’) is anti-bacterial and anti-viral and that it removes parasites from the gut (“Krimighna”).

Prana & Respiratory Health

This plant is full of Prana. This is why famously it’s principle use is for the respiratory system. Hence, it is great for cough, bronchitis, asthma, immunity and to wane fever.

In Ayurveda, we give Tulsi tea/water as a last resort for a miracle if a disease seems impossible to tackle. We also give it to people before they are about to die to bestow Prana (life-force) in them.

Water Purifier

Tulsi's broad-spectrum antimicrobial activity, which includes activity against a range of human and animal pathogens, suggests it can be used as a water purifier. Additionally add a small amount of Nirmali Seeds (Strychnos Potatorum) to purify water.

And the List Goes On...

Anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, anti-aging, anti-stress, anti-arthtritic agent, tulsi is good for anything! In addition, tulsi has been reported to lower blood pressure, boost immunity, reduce ulcers, treat allergies, cancer, infertility, diabetes and cholesterol.

Studies have shown that tulsi protects healthy cells from the toxicity of radiation and chemotherapy.

As western science continues its investigation, it will be difficult to find a condition that tulsi will not be helpful in. This is why it is the Queen of herbs.

Fresh Is Best - Capture Full Potency

A lot of the really powerful constituents are mainly in the volatile oils like eugenol and ursolic acid.

Volatile oils means the chemicals dissipate out of the air. So to capture these volatile oils (where the full potency of Tulsi resides), it should be ingested hours after harvest or as a special type of extract.

Fresh usage - Dip fresh leaves in some water and chew or brew in a tea.

Alternative to fresh - You can use it as a critical extract as the volatile oils are saved. Use half the formula of extract, plus half of the whole herb.

It is always important to use whole herbs to receive microbes and enhance biochemical intelligence, so the body can properly absorb the full spectrum of these powerful chemicals and in a safe manner (avoiding side effects).

Where Can I Get Tulsi?

Plants - In Australia, you can buy seeds (germinate them first) or seedling pots from The Herb Store, Beautanicals or Green Friends, or possibly your local local Indian Grocery.

Growing and using your own Tulsi is a very rewarding ritual. They say it really tests you a gardener’s devotion because the plant is SO sensitive to all energies and intentions.

Teas - Tea bags are readily available across the globe, go for the original tulsi, not flavoured. I drink Organic India Tulsi if I can't get fresh.

Properties

  • Rasa (taste): Pungent and Bitter
  • Virya (potency): Hot
  • Vipaka (post digestive effect): Pungent
  • Gunas (quality): Dry and light.
  • Doshas: Balances VPK. Increases pitta in excess.

Tulsi and Amla full moon yagya
photo: offerings to Tulsi part of a ceremony at the renown Raju clinic, Hyderabad, India.