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Nutmeg – 5 Health Benefits And Tasty, Too!

Nutmeg – 5 Health Benefits And Tasty, Too!

Nutmeg? It’s for sprinkling over eggnog during the holidays, right? Yes, and so very much more!

The health benefits of nutmeg are amazing!  Spending time in Grenada – The Spice Island of the Caribbean – I’m learning just how valuable this little seed can be for our overall health. When you step off the plane in Grenada, you’re enveloped in the balmy scents of nutmeg, ginger and cinnamon hanging heavy in the air. Take a deep breath to savor the aromas, treat your taste buds to a special delight, AND do your body a world of good!

Growing in a yellowish pod, nutmeg is the seed and mace is the “lacy” reddish shell found on the seed. Here on the island of Grenada, the pod is used to make nutmeg butters, jams and jellies. Mace is dried as a separate spice – a bit milder tasting than nutmeg. Inside the shell is the jewel – the nutmeg seed! Called a warming spice, nutmeg imparts a mild flavor to foods.

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nutmeg-health

Myristica fragrans is the active ingredient responsible for all the nutmeg spice health benefits. The nutmeg tree is the only tree in the world which is the source of two distinct spices – nutmeg and mace. This valuable commodity makes Grenada one of the world’s largest producers and distributors in the world.

Nutmeg Health Benefits

Pain Relief. Nutmeg contains a compound similar to menthol that acts as a counterirritant when placed directly on sore, aching muscles. For areas of chronic inflammation, applying nutmeg oil on the area can bring fast pain relief.

Acne. The powerful antibacterial and exfoliant properties of nutmeg help this spice quickly clear up acne breakouts. Simply mix a teaspoonful of freshly ground nutmeg with 1 teaspoonful of water, honey, or milk to make a paste and rub directly on the face. Leave for 5-10 minutes, then rinse off.

Anti-tumor Activity. This one really got my attention because of a recent study done in the Archives of Pharmacal Research on nutmeg health benefits. In this study, scientists identified a substance from nutmeg called meso-dihydroguaiaretic acid (DHGA) which showed significant anti-tumor properties, suggesting that nutmeg may offer additional anti-cancer benefits. This study is preliminary, but the findings suggest nutmeg warrants additional research into it’s potential against cancer.

Neurological Protection. A compound in nutmeg mace, called macelignan – part of the active ingredient Myristica fragrans – has been found to have neuroprotective activities. These compounds have been proven to reduce the degradation of neural pathways and cognitive function. Recent studies highlight the importance of nutmeg health in understanding and treating complex diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and dementia.

Kidney Stones. Natural health practitioners recommend nutmeg to help soften and dissolve kidney stones. For anyone who suffers from chronic kidney stones, it certainly wouldn’t hurt to add an extra pinch  of nutmeg to your coffee or tea every morning. The anti-bacterial activity of nutmeg is also a benefit when kidney stones become painful to avoid a secondary infection.

What are you waiting for? Grab a nutmeg grater, a whole nutmeg, and start shaving that delicious goodness on everything! Lattes, soups, ice cream, stews, smoothies, even scrambled eggs taste yummy with a pinch of nutmeg spice to heighten the taste sensation. The incredible nutmeg health benefits await. Enjoy!

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Keeping Your Sanity During A Long Layover

Keeping Your Sanity During A Long Layover

Keeping Your Sanity during a Long Layover

A previous article on The Travel Pharmacist discussed how to tackle jet lag and suggested ways on how you can beat the unpleasant experience of adjusting to a new time zone. But as much as traveling brings excitement and enjoyment, it also has many undesirable aspects, some of which are inevitable especially if you travel often.

Another dreaded experience for travelers is an unexpected layover that sometimes takes several hours. No matter the cause, no one likes to stay in a place for longer than they have to. It can get frustrating, and drain you of all your energy.

In case you have to experience a long delay in the middle of your flights or bus rides, learn how to keep your cool during this unexpected layover.

Have someone to talk to

The importance of venting your frustration is heavily understated, given that many people tend to just bottle up their feelings. Doing this often may have negative consequences and Psychology Today explained that holding in what needs to be let out is directly related to all sorts of health problems, whether physical, mental or emotional.

If you’re experiencing a long layover, it’s good to share your frustration by having someone to talk to. You can discuss it with your travel companions, but if you’re traveling solo, making a call to your friends and family is ideal as they can understand you better and you can update them about your situation at the same time.

But if you don’t have anyone to share your sentiments with, getting into a casual conversation with your co-passengers could be a good starting point. Afterwards, you can talk about how you’re feeling about the unexpected delay. This can go both ways and will be beneficial for everyone given that you’re all in the same situation.

Entertain yourself

In today’s world, there are virtually endless things to do to entertain yourself. The most basic is through mobile devices considering that the devices are now necessities. You can make use of digital reading materials through countless e-book apps, some of which are Bluefire and the classic Kindle, as highlighted by Tom’s Guide. Moreover, most major airports now have free Wi-Fi access, which you can use to stream your favorite programs. Whether it’s fantasy like Game of Thrones or a reality game show like Deal or No Deal, now’s a good time to catch up with all those missed episodes.

There are tons of games as well that can help you chip away at the layover time. If watching the show’s not enough, Telly Mix highlighted the quiz type game variation of Deal or No Deal which features the iconic host of the show, Noel Edmonds. Additionally, there’s a mashup of Deal or No Deal in the form of slots-bingo hybrid that is currently being hosted on gaming portal Slingo. This platform even offers players the chance to chat with friends while playing the game. However, if you’d rather be a lone wolf, there are classic single player games like the hit strategy titles Plants vs. Zombies and Angry Birds or the Candy Crush Saga which you can enjoy before your flight. Keeping yourself entertained will take your focus off the negative situation and make the time pass faster.

It’s not all amusement either, because as you may have read, games are proven to help reduce stress. In a study published by eMarketer, it was found that half of the smartphone users around the world turn to games as their stress reliever. So if you’re traveling, be sure to have at least one or two games downloaded on your mobile device. They’ll be extra useful in case of situations such as a long layover.

Take it as an opportunity for an unscheduled tour

Perhaps the best way to deal with an unexpected layover is to take an unscheduled tour. After all, your primary purpose is to travel so why not revel in a bit of spontaneity? Do note though that you may have to clarify first with authorities whether it is possibly to leave the airport during this time, such as if you need a visa to enter the country which you’re currently in.

That said, take the experience of a Redditor during an unplanned stop in France. The couple found a place full of model jets and vintage motorcycles which was admittedly described by the poster as one of the coolest spots they’d found on their travels.

Taking an unplanned tour may bring its surprises and the thrill of exploration, which are amongst the essences of traveling. Roadrunner elaborated how you can be ‘in the moment’ and get to enjoy raw, unprecedented excitement as you take on an unexpected trip. Just be sure to be back in time for your flight – that goes without saying.

The key takeaway from these exercises is that by combatting boredom and frustration it will help you forget about arduous layovers. And hopefully along the way you can discover something about yourself or the airport you find yourself in.

Here’s to safe and happy travels!

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10 Great Reasons To Walk

10 Great Reasons To Walk

Getting up and moving is one of the BEST things we can do for our overall health and well-being, so let’s take a WALK! Walking is easy. You’ve been doing it a long time and are probably pretty good at it by now. It doesn’t take a lot of fancy equipment – just a comfortable pair of shoes. Of course you can get into “fancy” walking with your iPhone apps, Fitbit tracker, headphones, and custom-designed running shoes, but that’s not necessary. What’s important is that we’re up and away from the computer or cubicle. We’re outside (or inside if the weather is harsh) to enjoy a WALK!

Walking is an excellent exercise that doesn’t feel like exercise. Walking is putting one foot in front of the other and going somewhere – and then coming back. It’s really that simple. When I find something so health-boosting, energy-producing, and disease-fighting-ly wonderful, I want to share it with you. When you learn the many reasons of just how amazing walking can be for your physical (and MENTAL) health, you’ll wonder why it took so long to start.

Here are 10 great reasons to start a walking habit –

  1. Social Interaction. Sure, it’s fun to play Candy Crush on the sofa for 12 hours every day, but studies show that people who find ways to interact socially live longer than those who become isolated. Relationships and social interactions even help protect against illness by boosting your immune system. It’s not hard. A simple nod or hello to a neighbor while you’re walking is all it takes. Who knows? They may even invite you in for cake!
  2. Get Better Sleep. Walking benefits the brain by allowing nighttime worries to diminish. According to Sleep journal, a 45-minute walk in the morning lets you get to sleep quicker and sleep more soundly than those who don’t take the time to walk. A deeper sleep comes from the brain exercise of observing a changing, interesting environment and absorbing what is going on.
  3. Leave the Worry Behind. You can’t fret about all of life’s complications while you’re taking in the scenery of a wooded park or listening to the birds. Give yourself time to escape the stress of life and just enjoy the walk. Look at the outside world with new eyes during your walk and feel the burden of worry lift from your shoulders. You’ll come back refreshed with new insights you might not even have considered before.
  4. View Life From A Different Angle. Something as simple as walking around the block or to the grocery store can change your entire perspective. Since we typically use our cars as our main mode of transportation, by walking you’ll see many things you may have failed to notice from a car. Going slower shows us how to appreciate what’s around us in a whole new way. Notice the trees, birds, and neighborhood – it’s a beautiful world out there to enjoy!
  5. Buff That Body. Forget the gym. Walking regularly will give definition to calves, quads and hamstrings while lifting your glutes (butt muscles). Add hill walking into the mix and it’s even more effective. Pay attention to your posture and you’ll also tone your abs and waist. You’ll be shocked at how quickly you’ll feel stronger and more stable just by regular walking.
  6. Stop Aching Joints. It sounds counter intuitive, I know; but walking can be the very best activity for maintaining healthy cartilage in your knees and other joints. Arthritis sufferers and those with everyday joint stiffness will see a reduction in pain and better mobility with a regular walk. Don’t believe me? Check out the Arthritis Foundation’s Walk With Ease Online Tools.
  7. Burn Calories. Walking is s great calorie torcher that’s easier on the knees than running. You’ll burn around 75 calories simply by walking at 2mph for 30 minutes. Go a bit faster to 3mph and it’s 99 calories, and while sauntering along at a brisk 4mph burns 150 calories in 30 minutes!
  8. Avoid A Heart Attack or Stroke. Keep your heart healthy by providing a regular exercise routine and you’ll see big dividends in return. It’s possible to keep a rein on high blood pressure and bad cholesterol levels (LDL) by walking 30 minutes every day. This is particularly effective when you walk right after a meal. In fact, studies show that a brisk half-hour walk can reduce the risk of stroke up to 27%!
  9. Boost Your Brain. Do you find yourself forgetting where you put your keys or sunglasses more and more often? Walking just might be your answer. In both memory and logic tests, it’s been shown that seniors who walk daily perform much better than the sedentary-by-choice. A regular walk improves academic performance in children – so the after-dinner family walk is a win-win for everyone. A bad case of writer’s block? Take a walk outdoors to reap a boost of creative juices.
  10. No More Sick Days. According to a North Carolina study, a 30 to 45 minute walk daily at a moderate pace can increase the number of immune system cells in your body. Over a period of time, this can have a profound effect on your body’s ability to fight illness and disease. To be more specific, walking at least 30 minutes a day could reduce the risk of having to take a sick day by almost 43%.

 

Let’s go for a walk today! Hope to see you out there!

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The Traveling PharmacistAs with all medical conditions discussed on the Internet, check first with your doctor before using any alternative treatments.

Get more great travel health tips as well as spa & wellness destinations on The Travel Pharmacist.

Learn more about the Travel Pharmacist Team – your Travel Health & Wellness Experts!

 

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Tackle Jet Lag

Tackle Jet Lag

Jet lag – those awful words! You can’t keep your eyes open long enough to snap that long-awaited vista. The hotel pool has a lovely swim-up bar, but you’d rather curl up in the room and sleep for hours. Most travelers have had at least one instance of this annoying condition while on vacation. Beating jet lag will give you back valuable time to enjoy your time away. Jet lag is a crafty thief. The groggy, sleepy, grumpy, not being able to concentrate on anything more than laying your head down on a pillow feeling steals away precious vacation and travel time.

What you want to do is go out and see the sights of the new place where you’ve just arrived. Instead, your body is telling you in no uncertain terms that you must waste hours sleeping until your body’s inner clock rights itself.

Sometimes jet lag presents itself during the night as insomnia. Other daytime symptoms include poor concentration, confusion, hunger at inappropriate times or lack of appetite, and general irritability.

The medical term for jet lag is desynchronosis. But what causes this combination of unpleasant feelings and disorientation? When your body moves faster than your inner clock can keep up – such as flying over several time zones – jet lag can occur. It’s your body’s way of resetting itself to your new surroundings. Typically jet lag is worse when flying from west to east, but for some people it can occur whenever multiple time zones are crossed.

We all agree it’s something we’d rather not deal with, so what can we do to avoid it? As the Travel Pharmacist, I’m often asked how to avoid jet lag or how to tackle it completely once you’ve arrived.

Here are a few tips…

BEATING JET LAG

1. Opt for the red-eye. If possible, schedule your flight so you’re sleeping when your body feels like it should be sleeping. Overnight flights allow more time for the body’s circadian rhythms to adapt.

2. Stay hydrated. Pressurized airplane cabins have the ability to drastically dehydrate the body and when you’re dehydrated, you don’t feel well. Keep sipping water throughout the flight.

3. Start a few days before the trip. If you’re going to be undergoing a long haul flight, it often helps to get your body used to the time zone changes ahead of time. Plan meals and bedtimes around the new time zone. This works especially well for young children who might not understand why they feel so bad after a long plane ride.

4. Avoid caffeine. While it’s tempting to keep the coffee supply coming, caffeine can be both dehydrating and disrupt normal sleep patterns.

5. Sleep on the plane. For this one, some people can and some people can’t. For those that can’t, ask your doctor about a prescription short acting sleep aid to get your body enough rest.

6. Avoid alcohol. Another major actor for dehydration and ruining sleep rhythms.

7. Set your watch to destination time and pretend you’re already there. This works very well for most people to decrease jet lag symptoms. As soon as you’ve on the plane, your watch and your mind are working together to put you in the new time zone.

But what if you’re already suffering from jet lag – is there any hope for relief? Yes!

TREATING JET LAG

1. Try over-the-counter melatonin. Melatonin is naturally secreted in our bodies and helps regulate our circadian rhythms so that we sleep at night. The suggested dose is 3 milligrams of melatonin an hour or two before bedtime at your destination. Then give yourself at least 9-10 hours to rest completely. You may wake earlier, but your body will have gotten the rest it needs.

2. Sunshine. Get outside in the sun as much as possible. Normal daylight will stimulate the body to produce chemicals you need for clearer brain function.

3. Take off your shoes and try earthing. While there isn’t a great deal of science to back this one up, many travelers find that putting one’s bare feet on the ground at your destination will stop jet lag in its’ tracks. It should be the actual ground outside and not a floor, and walking around for a few minutes wiggling your toes in the grass brings even more relief. I haven’t actually tried this one, but imagine it would be lots of fun.

4. Because a big part of jet lag is attributed to the body’s dehydration, sipping an oral re-hydration mixture may be the answer. Chock full of body-soothing electrolytes and salts, a product like RecoverORS can help put you back to normal. I also like RecoverORS to treat traveler’s diarrhea, heat exhaustion, sea sickness, and food poisoning. Overall, it’s a great travel health product to have around.

5. Coffee! The old standby that gets us through so many sleepy afternoons back home may also be helpful for combating daytime jet lag symptoms. The caffeine acts as a stimulant to kick the brain into full-functioning gear. Avoid too much caffeine after 3pm, as it may make it harder to sleep in the evening.

Here’s to Happy, Healthy Travels!

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The Traveling PharmacistAs with all medical conditions discussed on the Internet, check first with your doctor before using any alternative treatments.

Get more great travel health tips as well as spa & wellness destinations on The Travel Pharmacist.

Learn more about the Travel Pharmacist Team – your Travel Health & Wellness Experts!

 

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5 Ways to Use the CDC Travel Health Resources for International Travel

5 Ways to Use the CDC Travel Health Resources for International Travel

When planning a trip out of the country, you’re faced with a long list of questions. What should you know to stay healthy and safe?  What should you pack? Do I need special vaccines before the trip? Fortunately, the CDC Travel Health (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) website has an extensive collection of easy-to-access resources to help you make the most of your international trip.

BEFORE YOU GO

VISIT A TRAVEL HEALTH PROFESSIONAL. If you’ve made your plans in advance, use the CDC Travelers’ Health “Find a Clinic” feature (www.cdc.gov/travel) to schedule an appointment at a clinic near your home. Ideally, these visits should be at least a month before you travel. Meeting with a travel health specialist first can help plan your schedule of vaccines needed and what medical precautions you may need to take.

GET VACCINES AND TRAVEL MEDICATIONS. Not only will you need to be up-to-date on all routine vaccinations, but there may be country-specific requirements and recommendations. Check the “Vaccines and Medicines” table for your destination to find out what vaccines you will need. Keep in mind that your doctor’s office might have to order the vaccine, so give yourself enough time.

PACK SMART. Every destination on the Travelers’ Health website includes a “Healthy Travel Packing List” to help you enjoy your vacation to the fullest. Using the list feature helps decrease anxiety of possible leaving behind an important item. From packing the right clothes to preventing diseases to treating minor illnesses, you’ll find a wealth of trusted information from the CDC.

WHILE YOU’RE THERE

BE IN THE KNOW. News reports of Zika, Noro, and Ebola virus outbreaks can be frightening. Look to the “Resources for Travelers” on the CDC Travel Health page to find information on current travel health topics as well as any health warnings of which to be aware. Here you’ll also find helpful articles on making safe food and beverage choices, preventing bug bites, road safety, and how to get medical care overseas. Travelers who are pregnant, senior citizens, and families with children will also find resources to make their time abroad safer and more enjoyable.

APPS ON THE GO. Use your smart phone or tablet to keep important CDC functions at your fingertips. Available for both iOS and Android, the TravWell and Can I Eat This? apps help you prepare for healthy travel as well as make safe food and beverage choices while you’re abroad.

TravWell lets you build a trip to get vaccine recoomendations, a “to-do” list to prepare you for international travel, and a customizable packing list where you can add, remove, and check items off your list as you pack. With this app you can also store travel documents, keep a record of your immunizations, and set reminders to get vaccine booster doses or to take medicines while traveling.

Can I Eat This? helps you avoid one of the Top 5 Vacation AilmentsTraveler’s Diarrhea. You select the country you’re in and answer a few simple questions about what you’re eating or drinking. The app will then tell you whether it’s likely to be safe. This app can help keep you healthy while traveling and trying new foods.

The CDC Travel Health network provides one of the largest and most trusted sources of information regarding your travel health – so use them! Visit www.cdc.gov/travel on the web, Facebook at facebook.com/CDCTravelersHealth and Twitter at @CDCtravel.

Safe and healthy travels!

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