Have you ever found yourself forgetting to pack those vital holiday medicines only to find yourself at the mercy of the person behind a pharmacy counter with very limited English?
Or worse, have you ever found yourself at the peril of deciphering all the ingredients on the packaging in a language you don’t speak or understand?
Under these circumstances, you’re often so desperate to get rid of that constant rumbling feeling, the tireless visits to the bathroom and the excruciating pain that you resort to paying an extortionate amount of money in the hope that any medicine might do the trick! But it doesn’t have to be that way…
Prevention is better than cure
In a recent survey by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, as many as 3,793 travellers from the UK were hospitalised abroad during 2011-2012.
To help make sure you’re not one of them this year, here are my top 9 tips for a happy, healthy holiday for you, your family and friends:
1. Water – First and foremost, drink bottled water and use it to clean your teeth as well. Avoid any ice that’s been made from tap water. Plus, the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta says that it is a good idea to avoid very cold drinks as these can cause stomach cramps.
2. Probiotic – A good quality multi strain probiotic to start before you leave and continue throughout your trip will help to restore the healthy bacteria in your gut. So whether you’re going on a few months backpacking adventure or to a country known for Delhi bellies, these are an absolute saviour. Available at many health food stores.
3. General hygiene – Carry anti-bacterial gel and hand wipes with you at all times and use particularly before eating food, visiting public toilets, coming in contact with door handles etc.
4. Room temperature – Keep your air conditioning at a steady level of around 22-23 degrees as your body will be getting used to high holiday temperatures during the day and the sudden switch to a cold temperature can cause havoc on the body.
5. Reduce caffeine and alcohol intake – These substances have a mild diuretic effect on the body and it is therefore advisable to reduce the intake of both in hot weather. Take a note of the colour of your urine, if it is brown or dark yellow then it is quite possible that your body is dehydrated.
6. Organic fennel seeds – These are great for digestion and are available at most large supermarkets. I suggest organic ones, which are available online, to avoid taking in any unnecessary chemicals that may have been used in the production process. Chew a few seeds (a quarter teaspoon) after your meal every day. You can also have it as a tea and it tastes very similar to liquorice. You can also buy fennel teabags in health food shops and supermarkets which may be more convenient on holiday.
Fennel is rich in minerals, its main ingredient Anethol has anti-spasmodic properties hence great for stomach cramps and colic in babies too. It helps to overcome gas and indigestion. While allergic reactions to fennel are very rare, as with any herbs, it is advisable to start with a few grains and see how your body responds.
7. Mint leaves – Mint is great for calming the stomach, cleansing the palate and soothing the stomach where there is inflammation or indigestion. It can help with nausea and travel sickness too.
Mint can be bought in bundles in some supermarket stores or as a plant. Break off leaves, wash and use. These leaves can be eaten fresh or dried. I tend to break off the leaves and store them dried in a jar in my kitchen cupboard. That way I have them to hand all year round for any possible tummy upsets. While on holiday, it’s very convenient to add 3-4 leaves to boiling water and drink as a tea. Again, it is possible to buy mint tea from supermarkets and health food stores, which may be more convenient when you’re away from home.
8. Organic carom seeds – Also known as Ajwain or Lovage seeds, these have a slightly bitter taste so are best taken combined with the other two above. 3-4 grains of Carom is all that is needed for a litre of water. Again, carom seeds are readily available in the larger supermarkets or Asian/Oriental shops, but you may have to shop online for the organic variety. The seeds have numerous health benefits but are particularly beneficial for stomach cramps, indigestion, gas and bloating.
9. Nux Vomica 30c – The homeopathic remedy Nux Vomica is fantastic for dealing with any kind of indulgence – whether from eating the wrong food, eating too late in the day, or eating or drinking too much alcohol for that matter! One tablet half hourly is recommended until symptoms reduce. This remedy is available from Holland & Barrett.
As with any health condition, it is advisable to speak to your doctor first in case of any serious underlying health concerns. Herbs have been used for many centuries, particularly in East Asian countries, to treat a variety of health conditions. However, as we are all individual, it is advisable to try the least amount possible and gradually increase the levels of ingredients according to your personal situation and tolerance.
My favourite home recipe for digestive ailments…
Take ½ teaspoon of fennel seeds, 3 leaves of mint, 3-4 grains of carom with a fresh basil leaf simmered in a pint of water and you’ll have a very soothing concoction suitable for children and adults alike. In my experience, it always works a treat!
Everything in moderation
The secret to staying well on holiday is to keep everything in moderation, from the temperature of your drinks to the temperature of your room. You should also be aware of your intake of food and alcohol, and pack those super effective herbs and hopefully you will come back having had a fantabulous trip!
I would love to hear about your holiday experiences and what digestive remedy worked for you. Or if you have any tips of your own on the subject let us all know in the comments.
And if you’ve enjoyed this blog then please share it on Facebook and Twitter.
Have a great summer!