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Jet Lag

When a traveler passes several times zones during the course of a single journey on an airliner, the passenger may be physically exhausted, along with this exhaustion-the phenomenon known as jet lag is normally experienced. Some of the symptoms manifest in passengers suffering from jet lag include problems such as persistent lethargy, and intense irritability accompanied by a physical dullness and slower reaction times to external events and emotional cues. The person undergoes a dramatic shift in all of the body's normal cyclical patterns and many habits are disturbed, there are distinct changes in the sleeping and waking times, and hunger cycles and hormonal cycles will greatly fluctuate as time zones are crossed. Another result of the turbulence and sensitivity to motion engendered by airline travel can be the presence of nausea and vomiting in the passenger.

In a normal functioning human body, the body's internal regulator or the so called biological clock controls and regulates all the sleeping and waking hours through specific hormones, it also takes care of a vast number of other bodily functions-such as signals for hunger, the maintenance of the body temperature, and blood hormone levels, along with the peak times for the activity of our organs in a cyclic manner. Jet lag is normally controlled by planning an entire day as a recovery period for each time zone that is crossed, within this time the sleep-wake cycle will normally be restored, however; many of the other body rhythms will still need additional time for full recovery. Individual characteristics and physical endurance along with the number of time zones that are crossed and the number of hours spent in travel-decide the ultimate severity of symptoms. Thus jet lag may manifest itself differently from one person to another.

The technological advance that has enabled us to fly long distances in a short time is one reason that has resulted in jet lag - this is a disorder of the modern world. Normally the human body requires one or two days to restore normal sleep rhythms to adapt in time to the new time zone. Jet lag symptoms are increased and compounded by the presence of several other factors. Because of the low humidity in the interior of airplanes many passengers undergo some form of dehydration. To avoid this, make sure that you drink plenty of water and also avoid drinking alcohol before boarding or during the flight itself. Drinks that contain alcohol promote dehydration as alcohol is a diuretic, the alcohol also beings about a reduction in the body's coping mechanism as far as water loss is concerned. Its action is similar to some medications in that it may lead to a slowing down of the internal time clock-this will put the biological clock in disarray. Not smoking before boarding is also strongly suggested for similar reasons.

The risk of blood clot formation in the legs and the restoration of circulation within the body can be achieved by exercising the legs, the ankles and the feet by walking around the airplane during the flight-sitting still in one place for too long can lead to circulatory problems. The effects of jet lag will also be compounded by a hectic schedule and the presence of stress, too much anxiety and too little sleep in the few days before the flight-these factors will exhaust the passenger increasing the chances of jet lag.

Supplements and herbs

The body can be put under a great deal of stress during lengthy flights that involve several time changes, and time spent just sitting in one place. It is suggested that you start taking stress busting vitamins like the vitamins C and the B complex vitamins at high doses just a few days before the flight, and at the same doses during and after the flight-these will help your body deal with the stress caused by long distance travel. The nervous system is also relaxed by the use of the B complex vitamins. Sleep is aided by supplements of the hormone melatonin, which is a natural hormone released during nighttime, the release of this hormone raises the levels of serotonin in the brain allowing the body to relax and sleep - a synthetic variant of this hormone may be used as a supplement. In different time zones, supplements of synthetic melatonin will help regulate the sleep wake cycles within the body and is an excellent way for enabling sleep to come to a person who has just arrived at a different time zone after a very long journey. Airplanes recycle air which can become very stuffy and passenger may breathe in a lot of toxins, the supplemental use of a compound called reduced L-glutathione is also strongly recommended to aid in the detoxification of the blood.

All the herbal remedies given below will help in the prevention of the symptoms of jet lag from developing and these will soothe any stomach problems while traveling-in a very effective manner.

To help bring some balance to the body, herbal supplements of the Siberian ginseng can be taken, one capsule per dose daily for a week before the start of the trip and this same regimen can be continued every day throughout the trip to offset all possible signs of jet lag. The effectiveness of the herb can be enhanced by taking a combination of the ginseng with some gotu kola herbal extract. Avoid coffee during the flight, instead ask for a cup of hot water, and use this to steep some fresh leaves of the lemon balm along with leaves of the peppermint for about ten minutes. This herbal tea can then be sipped slowly throughout the flight to help you relax. To prevent symptoms of nausea from affecting you, the herbal tea can be fortified with a few slices of fresh ginger. If you tend to develop stomach problems while traveling, take a couple of peppermint and fennel teabags along you-this can be used during the flight to help relax a queasy stomach.

Additional things you may do

Immediately upon reaching your destination, make sure you are exposed to some sun light for at least five minutes-this can be an important factor in offsetting the effects of jet lag. Walk around in the outdoors exposed to sunlight for some time after removing your sunglasses and contact lenses-if you use them. To help normalize the body's internal equilibrium, gently press the bony area behind the upper part of the ear immediately upon landing. Take bath in the morning following the flight, using warm bath water infused with a few drops of the essential oils of herbs like the geranium, the lime and the grapefruit-this is an excellent topical relaxing measure. Use cold water to bath in the evening, adding a few drops of the essential oils of the geranium and the chamomile. You will feel relaxed and balanced after these baths.

Usual dosage

  • Vitamin B complex, 100 mg.
  • Vitamin C, with bioflavonoids, 1,000 mg up to 3 times a day.
  • Reduced L-glutathione, 75 mg every 3 hours during your flight.
  • Melatonin, 1-3 mg at nighttime.

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