March 24, 2008

Ayurveda Q&A with Dr. John Douillard: Boost Your Immune System for Plane Travel

Q. Plane travel is hell. Is there any way to stay sane and healthy in the midst of security lines, flight delays and the sneezing and hacking of fellow passengers? Can you really jam 300 people into an airplane and not expect people to get sick? ~ Howard Schiffer, founder of Vitamin Angels

A. he key to staying healthy and sane while traveling has nothing to do with the germ itself. Though you will be exposed to millions of re-circulated germs in an airplane, strangely only a few passengers get sick. There’s little we can do about being exposed to infectious bacteria and viruses. Things like washing your hands as often as possible help, but do little against airborne critters. The bulk of your immunity will depend on your level of susceptibility-not exposure.

Here is how it works: in the winter our sinuses begin to dry out. Airplanes are notorious for blowing dry, dehydrating air throughout the entire flight. As the sinuses dry, they produce reactive mucous to combat the dry seasonal air. This mucous becomes the perfect breeding ground for an opportunistic bacteria or virus-et voila-two days later you have a cold. So, to stay un-infected by high-risk airplanes is to keep your sinuses lubricated. Take a clean, empty nasal spray bottle and fill it with cold pressed sesame oil (less than 3oz, or security will confiscate!). Before, during and after your flight, take a couple of sniffs to keep those sinuses lubricated. You’ll be amazed how an ounce of oil can be worth a pound of cure!

As for staying relaxed during the hustle and bustle of travel-the key is not to get run down. Most of us are more exhausted than we know, and when fatigue is combined with air travel we become susceptible to the stress-related woes of cold and flu season. My favorite remedy for this is an Ayurvedic herb called Ashwaganda that’s well-documented for its ability to help fight stress, prevent colds and rebuild the nervous system. Yet, one of its most coveted boons is its ability to fight jet lag. Take 500 m.g. of extracted Ashwaganda three times a day after food, a couple of days before and during your trip.

Dr. John Douillard is an author and practitioner of Ayurveda and Chiropractic wisdom at the LifeSpa in Boulder, Colorado, where he lives with his wife and six children.

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