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Jet Lag Remedies

Natural Remedies to Avoid Jet Lag

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Updated May 16, 2014

Some homeopaths say that No Jet Lag will only work if jet lag symptoms match the profiles of these remedies. Other jet lag remedies, which can be purchased individually in health food stores and some drug stores, may be a closer match. For example, Cocculus indicus is used for people who say they are "too tired to sleep". They may feel weak, dizzy, irritable, and have trouble concentrating.

Although the profiles are quite extensive, here are some characteristics for each No Jet Lag homeopathic ingredient:

  • Arnica: sleeplessness and restlessness when over-tired
  • Bellis perennis: waking mid-sleep and sleep interruptions
  • Chamomilla: emotional and mental stress, sleeplessness, impatience, intolerance and disorientation
  • Ipecacuanha: intense and constant nausea
  • Lycopodium: anxiety, anticipatory fears, apprehension, inability to adapt to new surroundings, digestive problems, especially bloating and gas

For all homeopathic remedies, follow the instructions on the vial or consult a homeopath for specific instructions.

4) Valerian

Valerian is a herb used as a natural sleep aid. For jet lag, it is used to help adjust to new time zones by helping people fall asleep at their desired time. Unlike other sleep aids, valerian is not believed to be addictive or cause grogginess the next morning.

5) Diet

When it comes to air travel, there are some well-known diet maxims: avoid excess alcohol or caffeine, drink plenty of water, and eat light meals.

But Dr. Charles F. Ehret, a scientist at the Argonne National Laboratory in Illinois, says that it's possible to use diet to help reset your body's clock to a new time zone. Called the "Argonne diet" or the "anti-jet lag diet", the diet was developed after research with experimental animals and humans.

Basically, the diet alternates feast and fast days and ends with a high-protein breakfast:

Begin three days prior to departure.

Day 1: Feast day

Eat predominantly high-protein foods (e.g. meat, fish, chicken, cheese, eggs, tofu) for breakfast and lunch. The theory is that these foods stimulate the body's production of epinephrine, norepinephrine, and dopamine (substances called catecholamines) which help the body maintain an alert, awake state.

Dinner should be carbohydrates (e.g. cereal grains, wheat, rice, oats, potatoes, fruit, peas, pasta, bread, dried fruit) with no high-protein foods. Carbohydrate-rich foods are believed to stimulate the body to produce melatonin.

Coffee, tea, and caffeinated sodas are only permitted between 3 and 5 pm during the first three days, a time of day when caffeine is not thought to affect circadian rhythms.

Day 2: Fast day

Only light meals such as salads and thin soups are recommended. These so-called "fast" days are thought to deplete the liver's store of glycogen (a muscle fuel) to prepare the body to reset its clock.

Day 3: Feast day

Follow the same guidelines as day 1.

Day 4 (departure day): Fast day

Follow the modified fast and get as much sleep as you can until it is breakfast time at your destination. If traveling westward, caffeine is permitted in the morning of the departure, and if traveling eastward, caffeine is permitted between 6 and 11 pm.

When your watch indicates that it is breakfast time at your destination, have a protein-heavy breakfast without coffee, turn on the overhead reading light and then stay as active as you can afterwards. If you are traveling from New York to Paris and departed at 7:00 pm, this means having breakfast at 2:00 am New York time (8:00 am Paris time). The flight attendant may agree to save your dinner until that time or you can pack food such as protein bars with you.

Eat the rest of the meals according to normal mealtimes at your destination.

Does this diet work? The anti-jet lag diet website (which charges for personalized plans) say that this anti-jet lag diet has help thousands of people effectively. There was one study in the journal Military Medicine that found decreased jet lag in National Guard personnel who followed the diet.

Drawbacks of the diet are that people may find the diet too difficult and there may be possible caffeine withdrawal.

If considering this diet, be sure to discuss it with your doctor first because it is not suitable for everyone, such as people with diabetes or eating disorders.

Sources

Petrie K et al. A double-blind trial of melatonin as a treatment for jet lag in international cabin crew. Biological Psychiatry. 33.7 (1993):526-30.

Revell VL et al. Advancing human circadian rhythms with afternoon melatonin and morning intermittent bright light. Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism. 91.1 (2006):54-9.

Reynolds NC Jr and Montgomery R. Using the Argonne diet in jet lag prevention: deployment of troops across nine time zones. Military Medicine. 167(6) (2002):451-3.

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How To Avoid Jet Lag

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