The Travel Kit - Remedies to take backpacking
As an avid traveller, I love to be as prepared as possible when planning a backpacking trip. This month my mom and I are heading south to spend 3 weeks in Costa Rica. Along with beautiful beaches, lush tropical rainforest and I'm sure a plethora of amazing like-minded travellers, backpacking also comes with unexpected adventures and unwanted health concerns.
Back in 2012 on my first backpacking trip, I developed a horrible cluster of nasty infections from scrapes on my feet. I thought I was being fashionable and bought a pair of beautifully made German shoes. After one night of wearing them the blisters had gone from sore to unbearable. My feet hurt so much I couldn't wear anything but crappy flip flops. You know when they say that wounds can "fester"? Well I could literally see the festering taking place - it was horribly gross and painful (I actually have a picture of it, but it's far too much for a blog post). It was also pretty cold to be walking around in Europe in sandals at that time - so I certainly learned the hard way to be prepared for things to go awry, and if it's going to effect your trip, it's best to be prepared for it!
This time last year, my wonderful partner in crime, Andrew, and I were making our way through India. I had planned months ahead and hoped I was fully prepared for the 3 months to come. Here is a list of my herbal travel kit I brought with us that saved us (mostly me) time and time again!
Marshmallow Root capsules
(Althaea officinais RAD)
Used to support gastrointestinal health, Marshmallow root saved my GI and my mood so many times throughout India. Whether you are prone to constipation or not, often travelling can slow down your transit time when drinking and eating new cuisine our bodies aren't used to. Not only does Marshmallow root soothe your intestines to help promote a healthy bowel movement, but when suffering with the after math of the dreaded travellers diarrhea, this root feels like a warm hug around the colon.
I know, who wants their colon hugged right? - Well talk to me after you've spent 3 months in India.
(Artemisia absinthium/Berberis vulgaris)
These herbs are potent antimicrobials for any GI infection and travellers diarrhea. As soon as I would feel any type of queasiness after a meal, I would take 2 capsules and a ton of (clean and sanitized) water.
Although I wouldn't advise using these in place of an antibiotic if your GI condition is severe enough, these have worked wonders for me when travelling, without any fear or indication of needing an antibiotic.
Oh sweet, sweet Echinacea! For every tickle in my throat while travelling, for every time I sat on an 18 hours train ride with men beside me coughing and spitting out the windows - I thanked my past self for bringing this sweet herb along with me.
Not only do I feel like this saved me from developing strep throat, but whenever I felt like my immune system was sliding that slippery slope, I took a nice heavy dose of Echinacea and I hopped right back to feeling like a million bucks!
Not only for internal use, but my dear sweet old Echinacea is great for topical lesions as well. For all the scrapes my feet and legs inevitably get while walking barefoot in another country, I slathered some tincture on top to ward off any sign of infection. I love this plant!
Tea Tree Essential Oil
I keep a small bottle of Tea Tree for the same reasons that Echinacea can be used topically. It is highly anti-fungal for any fungal infections that can develop on your feet, as well as anti-bacterial to ward off topical infections. If only I had this wealth of knowledge back in my early backpacking days!
It's also great to use a tiny bit of Tea Tree and water to clean and sanitize any belongings that may need a little TLC after being on the road for so long.
Aloe Vera Gel
Aloe is easily found in most tropical places in the form of gel. I love keeping a small bottle on me for those long days in the sun. Aloe aids in the healing of sun burns (or any burn for that matter). Its cooling and moistening effect is exactly what my skin is craving after a beach day. It can also be found in most health food stores as a juice or gel for internal use - which is very different from the gel used topically on the skin! Check the ingredients, as you definitely don't want to ingest some of the additives that most topical companies use. The internal use of Aloe gel is so wonderful for the gastrointestinal tract (GIT). Whether you experience chronic constipation during your trip or the dreaded traveller's diarrhea, Aloe is an amazing cooling and mucilaginous tool for your GIT.
Recently I had a few dear friends come for a consultation on what to bring travelling with them to India. I sent them away with tinctures and capsules very similarly to those on this list.
If you're planning a trip and want to talk remedies, send me an e-mail and we can come up with something specific to your needs.
Also, if you're curious as to what happened with my festering wounds, my dear friend filled a plastic grocery bag with hot water and epsom's salt while I stood in the bag multiple times a day until the salt's drawing action pulled out the infection. I was eventually able to put on socks, and then bought the coziest, warmest shoes I could find.