My natural summer survival kit

I often get asked what I take when I go travelling or on holiday so here’s my nutritional first-aid kit.

First, there’s the flight. For long haul flights, if you want to get some sleep there’s no question that melatonin, the neurotransmitter that is released during the night, helps with jetlag. You take 1mg an hour before the ‘new’ bedtime for every one hour time zone difference, then halve it every night. For example, for California (8 hours difference) you take 8mg on night one, 4mg on night two, 2mg on the third night, 1 mg on the fourth. Then you’ll be in sync. Melatonin is made from 5-HTP. Having 100 to 200mg of 5-HTP an hour before the ‘new’ bed time is your next best bet.

There’s a lot of extra radiation in long-haul flights so make sure you load up on vitamin C and antioxidants. In any event I take 1 gram twice a day, plus a multivitamin and mineral containing plenty of antioxidants, including at least 10mg of immune-boosting zinc. Keeping yourself optimally nourished is an essential for more adventurous trips where eating well isn’t always an option. I always travel with probiotics providing significant quantities, at least 1 billion viable organisms of both Lactobacillus acidophilus and Bifido bacteria. If you ever get some kind of food poisoning or bug take double the dose for the first three days, then one a day for the next four days. This will halve your recovery time. A teaspoon (5 grams) of glutamine powder also helps. It’s also good for hangovers in case you have too much to drink, best taken, with 2 grams of vitamin C and lots of water as you go to bed and again in the morning.

If you have been exposed to some kind of bug, perhaps in water or food, there are certain natural remedies that are good all-rounders. These include grapefruit seed extract, artemesia, oregano oil, garlic, black walnut extract and olive leaf extract. Of course, you can eat garlic and when I’m off climbing mountains I take a root and have at least a clove a day. You can also cook with oregano. There’s a form of Artemesia, called Artemesia Annua, also known as Chinese Wormwood, which is highly effective against malaria, both helping to prevent and treat it. People who get malaria are often given Artemesin, a drug version of this herb. If I’m in a malaria area I take 20 drops a day of a concentrated tincture, starting a week before travel and at least two weeks after. Artemesia is also a good anti-fungal, anti-parasitical and anti-bacterial agent so a good all-rounder. Teatree oil is also a must as a natural antiseptic. Geranium oil and citronella are both anti-mosquito and you might find them in natural mosquito repellants. I also travel with a combination supplement containing quercitin, vitamin C, glutamine, MSM and bromelain, which are great for calming down allergic or inflammatory reactions.

If you get sun burnt or have some skin inflammation Aloe vera is excellent. In many hot countries is grows abundantly and you can always break off a leaf, slit in and use the gel that the plant exudes. Talking of sunburn the best way to protect the skin is with vitamin A based creams. Vitamin A is the skin’s main protector against radiation, backed up by vitamin C. Vitamin A based creams load up your skin to protect it from sun damage, but don’t stop vitamin D production, which is inhibited by sun blocks. You make most of your vitamin D in the first 15 minutes of sun exposure so I often wear no sun cream for the first 15 minutes or early morning sun then apply. Ideally, load up your skin every morning with a vitamin A based skin cream or moisturiser such as Environ’s AVST. Their RAD suncream is excellent. Happy holidays!