Having just returned from a month in Bali and Indonesia, I thought I would share with you some health advice to make your travels a little more easy. Travelling in Asia can be fun and it can also be challenging if you don’t take precautions and some good remedies along with you. Here are some of the challenges I had to face while away and how I resolved them.
On arriving at our hotel, I made the first mistake of forgetting that you don’t clean your teeth in the tap water, even at a quite up market hotel! After a few days of doing so I was alerted to the fact that I now had Bali Belly! I immediately started cleaning my teeth with bottled water and went off to the “Apotek” or pharmacy for some medication. I had taken some SB (Saccharomyces Boulardii) with me which is very beneficial for traveller’s diarrhoea, although I did not have enough to take the top dose of two capsules twice a day. Luckily the Apotek still sells herbal and natural supplements so after refusing antibiotics for my condition the woman in charge managed to find some herbal remedies for me. Along with charcoal tablets and Lactobacillus, I was well stocked up to keep said Bali Belly under control for the trip. On arriving home I immediately started a cleansing diet (no sugar, no processed carbohydrates etc.), along with a herbal supplement consisting of Chinese Wormwood, Garlic, Lavender and Oregano Oil. This with more SB (2 capsules twice a day) and slippery elm and psyllium powder, one tsp of each 1-2 X a day, very quickly calmed down my bowel symptoms of loose stools, bloating, wind and occasional griping pain. A gut cleanse is always a good idea after travelling anywhere! After I have finished the above remedies, I will recolonise the gut with a good probiotic.
The next challenge was with accompanying friends who came to join us in our next hotel only to find after the first night there, they had been bitten by bed bugs! Luckily I had brought with me some Healing Herbs Skin Cream that immediately calmed the red, itchy bites which eventually subsided and healed. Healing Herbs (which contains Golden Seal, Calendula, Chickweed, Aloe Vera and Vit E) is also essential for sunburn, to calm the itch of any bites or stings, and healing of wounds and bites.
Mosquitoes are also a worry in Asia and I had brought along some homeopathic Malaria tablets in a 30 potency. There was, however, not many around and the natural insect repellent (Natural Restore and Repel) containing essential oils of Lavender, Lemon Balm, Eucalyptus and Kunzea in a coconut oil base, kept away any that may have been a problem. If you are in a Malaria infected area, I would suggest taking 2 pills of Malaria 30 once a day for three days of every week you are away.
Snorkelling on the island of Gili Meno off Lombok, was a dream but the scratches from the coral, getting in and out of the water were painful. Luckily I had brought along a small bottle of Golden Seal and Calendula tincture and dropped that straight onto any wounds so as to avoid infection and tropical ulcers. The Healing Herbs Skin Cream also came in very handy for these scrapes.
Eating different foods, sleeping in strange beds, and the accompanying stresses of travel can lead to some other annoying complaints like indigestion, headaches and lack of sleep. I find the best remedy for all these symptoms is Nux Vomica 30 homeopathic. I would not travel anywhere without it and I usually always have some in my handbag for those occasions when you are out or next to the bed at night when sleeping is difficult.
I love Ubud, all the shops, markets and excitement, but like many Asian villages and cities these days, the traffic and air pollution is horrendous. My reaction is often to have a fit of sneezing, runny nose and sore, streaming eyes when out and about walking. Aconite 30 calmed down my symptoms fairly quickly and Eyebright tincture (2 drops in an eyebath of cooled bottled water) eased the sore and red eyes. Also carrying small sachets of salt water eye drops can help to flush out any dust from the eyes.
Another remedy I would not travel without is Arnica 200. It is an absolute must for any accidents, strains, sprains or bruising that may occur as you navigate uneven, rocky walkways and roads. It is also a great remedy for shock if a more severe accident occurs, like coming off a motor bike as many tourists do!
The occasional sore throat and sniffle was dealt with easily with 20 drops of the Golden Seal and Calendula tincture mix in a half glass of water, gargled two to three times a day. I had forgotten to take the Himalayan Salt for this purpose also (also good for washing bites and small wounds with) but was happy to find it in a little shop selling all sorts of healthy and not so healthy produce. Next time I will bring it from home as the price was a lot more over there!
Some of our travelling companions were concerned about Dengue Fever, so I suggested that everyone take along some Vit C powder and Zinc tablets to keep the immune system boosted. Echinacea in a liquid or tablets is also good to take for this purpose.
I love the food in Indonesia and there are many places that serve great, organic food. I don’t eat red meat at all and would advise others that if you do eat it in Indo, you are probably eating Australian beef that has been live exported under not so good conditions. There are lots of local chickens to eat and plenty of fresh fish available on the coasts for those wanting a more paleo diet. The one problem I do find is with the bread which is usually white and processed. Avoiding this altogether makes for a much happier gut for me and luckily I don’t miss it because of all the other great options for breakfast like fruit, lassies and juices (always ask for “no sugar” otherwise it will be added). Also, the very famous and much loved banana pancakes are (mostly I believe) made with rice flour! Nasi Goreng is sometimes available for breakfast also (and is great to eat at any time of the day) but be aware of MSG being added. A lot of places advertise they don’t use it!
So enjoy your travels but don’t forget a few essential remedies and supplements to make your trip flow more easily and to put your mind at rest for any unforeseen health problems that may arise.
Suzanne Staples, ND DBM
Naturopath Herbalist Homoeopath
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