What Does a Naturopathic Doctor Bring When Traveling?

What Does a Naturopathic Doctor Bring When Traveling?

Traveling has been a hobby since my first international trip to Japan when I was 10 years old. I was fascinated by the language, culture and sceneries that I made a lifelong mission to explore the world as much as possible.

With exploration comes the unknown. Unexpected joys and incidents alike happen during travel.

Essential Medicine Bag for Travel

One thing you don’t want to encounter unexpectedly is sickness. Over the years, I have refined my traveling medicine bag, and I will share some of my essential items.

Please modify this traveling list to meet your specific needs.

Immune Support

This is probably the most important item to discuss. I recommend an herbal formula that has andrographis, astragalus and echinacea.

Andrographis is a powerful antiviral herb.

Echinacea is great for immune support.

Astragalus has both antiviral and immune support properties, and can be additionally helpful for fatigue.

I usually pair an herbal formula with vitamin D. Illness-prevention starts before your travel, preferably 2 days prior. If you start feeling any cold or flu symptoms, intervention in the first 48 hours is critical. You want to take the maximum dose allowed on the bottle during this period to prevent a full infection.

A simpler version is using vitamin C and D which can be found in most places in the world. Take vitamin C 1g every 2-3 hours and vitamin D 10,000IU per day for 5 days. Vitamin C at high doses can cause loose stools, so decrease the dose if needed. Avoid this high dose of vitamin C if you have acid reflux or gastritis.

Digestive Support

Constipation is very common in the initial days of travel due to stress, dehydration, change in diet and time zones. An herbal formula with senna and cascara sagrada, magnesium oxide or magnesium citrate are very helpful. Take this at bedtime to promote a bowel movement the next morning.

Please note Senna and Cascara Sagrada should never be taken for more than 7 consecutive days.

For people with acid reflux, I find Pepcid most helpful and convenient. My favorite herbal formula for acid reflux, which includes glutamine, DGL and aloe, typically comes in powder form which is not ideal for traveling.

For traveler’s diarrhea, activated charcoal is effective. It can also help with gas and bloating. Bismuth subsalicylate (Pepto Bismol) tablets over the counter are best when symptoms are more severe.

Muscle Ache and Soreness Support

I experience hip and neck soreness because of inadequate pillows and beds at hotels and poor posture from long flights.

I now bring a tennis ball in my bag. It is the most amazing massaging tool. Align the ball between your sore spot and the wall. Then, use your body weight to roll the ball on the spot back and forth. Spend 5 minutes on each area and repeat every day. It is quite magical.

Over the counter homeopathic remedies, like arnica montana, can be helpful for pain relief for an acute minor injury.

Sleep Support

Melatonin is my go-to sleep aid for travel. The typical dose is about 3-6mg. Some patients do well with low doses of 0.5-1mg, but personally I find less than 3mg to be ineffective.

The controlled released version of melatonin works best when adjusting to a new time zone. Melatonin alone may not be strong enough to help you sleep deeply on the plane. You may need to use an over the counter medication to do the trick.

I usually use the melatonin once I’m at the hotel on the first night. You can use it again in the middle of the night if you wake up and cannot fall back to sleep.

Motion Sickness Support

Prevention is the key. Once the nausea kicks in, it is a bit hard to stop. Position yourself in the front of the boat or car, especially if you can get a front view. Standing is better than sitting if possible, and either way, try to face the direction of travel. Fix your eyes on something at a distance rather than near. Never have a full stomach. If you want to eat something, eat solid foods rather than liquids at least 2 hours beforehand.

Over the counter homeopathic remedies can be helpful, for example nux vomica and ipecac. I recommend taking them the day before, the day of and during travel if needed. These remedies usually last 4-5 hours.

I prepare and use immune, digestive, muscular, sleep and motion sickness support during my travel. Make sure you consult with your health provider to create your medicine bag to meet your needs.

I wish you safe and joyful travels this year!

Dr. Sherry Su, Naturopathic Doctor - Travel List

Dr. Sherry Su
Naturopathic Doctor San Jose


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