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

 

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.

 

Waning The Winter Woes

Become immune to the common cold or flu - Prevent it!

But if it does hit you, do not resist it. Rather, accept it and apply some of the tactics listed in this article to actually make the flu work for you!

What Exactly Is the Flu?

The flu is not a disease that calls for panic or that needs to be “treated”.

The flu is a natural detoxification that the body’s intelligence wisely instigates to “clean the house” (the body). So do not suppress it!

Your body “vents” (clears) toxins 24hrs a day. But sometimes (particularly as the seasons become colder) it gets overwhelmed and opens up all the vents for immediate clearing. This clearing comes in many forms: perspiration, breathing, sweating, rashes, diarrhoea, colds, flus and so on.

So we must facilitate this process of “cleaning the house” by allowing and assisting the toxins to be eliminated. Unfortunately people aren’t facilitating this process enough.

Common Treatment Process of the Flu

  • People are masking the symptoms with pharmaceutical drugs that fool the body into feeling that it doesn’t have any toxins to eliminate.
  • The drugs may also clog or block these “vents” (elimination channels).
  • These toxins then will get trapped deeper into the bodily channels, causing deeper problems down the track.
  • Additionally, drugs and vaccines will further add to the toxins that are trapped in the body and increases the risk and severity of "Dis-Ease" later on. No one currently knows the long term impact of these ‘foreign’ substances that are being injected into the blood streams of many people (vaccinations).

Vent the Body to Prevent Disease

If your body is not able to “vent” toxins coming in (undigested food, environmental pollutants, stressful relationships, stressful work situations etc.) you will experience discomfort.

So in winter, if you or your children get the sniffles or a severe cold, rather then stressing, here are some simple home remedies to keep these “vents” open and working effectively:

Home Remedies for the Cold and Flu

Realise and become aware that your body is “cleaning the house” during this period and the best thing you can do is to support it during the detoxification process.

  • Avoid suppressing the symptoms with a pharmaceutical drug. Yes, you might get some symptomatic short-term relief but the effects of the toxic residues that are left behind will show up down the road and your body’s natural intelligence to function will be weakened. There are other ways to relieve the discomfort as listed below. However, after you have tried natural remedies to relieve the symptoms, if you are unbearingly suffering it is sometimes better to take the pharmaceutical drugs than suffer.
  • Rest - The most important. Avoid the cold wind outside, avoid strenuous work, late nights. Stay warm.
  • Eat lighter - Cut down on your intake of meat and animal products such as cheese and yoghurt. Dinner especially should be light (soups are best).
  • Liquid diet day - any cooked and pureed foods or soups, lassi, fresh fruit juices and herbal teas can help you overcome a virus much more easily. Avoid vegetable juices.
  • Fasting (with your body type in mind) coupled with sipping hot water all day is “the best/chief among those which cure fever.”(1)
  • Sip hot water - Plain hot water is the best to clear all body’s channels and hydrate the body. Plain is best because is works on all the body’s channels, rather then specifically targeting a certain area. Plus, plain hot water is even more hydrating than lemon water! Frequency is what matters, not quantity. Sip every 10-15 minutes. You can also make a tea with turmeric + a little black pepper or cumin + ajwain tea.
  • Avoid therapies such as massage, nasya (oil administered in nose) and exercise.

Plants and Whole-Food Remedies

These can provide instant relief and still support the body and it’s natural defence system to vent.

 

Honey & Kitchen Spice Paste

Cough and cold remedy, increases immunity, fights infections. Recipe Here.

Tulsi tea - English name “Holy Basil.” Also known as the “Queen of Herbs” in Ayurveda. Tulsi is especially effective for lungs and to decongest the respiratory system.

Salt + warm water gargle - Can do all throughout the day, especially if experiencing sore throat. Use 1/2tsp-1tsp of black salt for best effect. Can add a little turmeric to the water for stronger bacteria-fighting help.

Gargle with liquorice tea - Soothe a sore throat and reduce inflammation.

Steam inhalation - Perhaps one of the most effective remedies. Add 2 drops of Vital Veda/Raju Prandhara into a bowl of boiling water, cover head and bowl with towel and inhale steam till steam is finished. Mini Steam inhalation: 1 drop of prandhara in a cup of boiling water, inhale steam until steam is finished, then drink liquid. Can do a few times a day. Order Prandhara from Vital Veda clinic. Alternative to Prandhara: 10-15 drops of eucalyptus oil in a big bowl of boiling water and inhale.

More complex herbs for deeper seated problems. Available from the Vital Veda clinic or a good Ayurvedic practitioner.

Act early

Prevention is a key component in Ayurveda. If you notice the initial stages of a symptom - waking up with a slight sore throat, then gargle with salt water, eat the Honey & Spice Mix or better take some complex herbs.

If you are beginning to feel a bit congested in the sinuses or lungs, incorporate steam inhalation into your morning routine. Jump in early to work WITH the viruses or toxins to ensure their effective elimination.

Act even earlier

Adopt an Ayurvedic diet, lifestyle and perhaps take some herbs to maintain optimum immunity and vitality and hardly ever see the start of a disease or symptom. Especially the cold or flu.

Read my articles in the blog or book in with me for a consultation to acquire a detailed lifestyle and dietary plan to tune yourself into optimum balance and wellness.

 

References:

(1) “Astanga Samgraha (of Vagbhata)” - Chaper 13: Collection of the Best, Agryasangrahaniya Asdhyaya, translated by Author: Prof. K R Srikantha Murthy

 

Cough & Cold Home Remedy: Honey + Spice Paste

This is a simple and very tasty paste that you can make up and jar it to have on hold, especially for the autumn-winter-early spring time of year.
This cough and cold remedy increases immunity and fights infections.

Recipe:

  • 1 tablespoon of Honey*
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp cinnamon powder
  • 1/4 tsp cardamom powder
  • 10 drops of fresh ginger juice or 1/4tsp ginger powder

Mix a large batch of this up, keep it in a glass jar ready for use.

Dosage: Lick 1tsp 2-3x a day or when needed.

*Honey should be unheated (not above body temperature). Ensure the honey you buy is extracted this way.  Most honeys in the supermarkets, even health food stores (organic included!) will be extracted at temperatures higher than 37 degrees. I suggest going to your local farmers market and speaking to the apiarist.

To learn What Exactly Is The Flu, + more simple home remedies, click HERE