Immune Hacks for Travel: What Works

Posted by   Annette on    July 2, 2013

Vitamin C? Sorry. Doesn't work.

Echinacea? Yeah…nope.

If your go-to weapons are useless, what do you do in the face of a planeful of impending sicknesses? Baby your body through these vulnerable moments and follow up with strong supplements to keep those defenses up.

1. Spray on some protection.

A travel-specific nasal spray helps enormously. Here's how:

You know that in-flight humidity is low. But do you know how low? LOW. "Normal" humidity is typically between 30% and 60%. Airline humidity is set at about 10%.

That dries up your mucous membranes like slugs on the pavement in the hot summer sun. Your mucous membranes alone are powerless against it. Illness-causing bugs sneak in through the cracks, and the days after the flight are usually marked by nasal congestion as the membranes struggle through the healing process.

Remember to put the saline spray (or saline gel) in your liquids bag. Use it before take-off, then regularly throughout the flight. Once you feel your nose getting dry, it's too late.

2. Pre-hydrate, then hydrate on-board.

I like to take handful of my own teabags and a sturdy travel mug with me when I head to the airport. (Usually, I choose Traditional Medicinals Throat Coat, a blend which winningly combats the drying effects of the airplane air.) Budget bonus: Every airport coffee shop I have yet asked has refilled the mug with hot water for free.

Once on board, don't rely on the paltry hydration the flight attendants come around with; instead, keep refilling the empty mug with water. Many newer aircraft have taps set into the wall near the back of the plane. If there isn't a tap, don't' be shy: keep bothering the staff for water. It's important enough to face an eye-roll or two.

3. Take a mushroom supplement.

I'll be honest: these things smell awful, and they're generally a chore to take. That aside, high-quality mushroom supplements are reliable immune boosters with a proven track record against all sorts of baddies. I take a higher dose on my travel day(s) and follow up if I feel something start to creep up on me.


4. Feel an illness kicking in? Take oil of oregano.

Since it's taken on an empty stomach, I'll warn you ahead of time: there will be very, um, herbal burps involved. For travel health, however, oil of oregano is amazing stuff. It's a natural antibiotic, but it supports healthy digestive flora instead of killing 'em off.

Bonus: This oil can be diluted in fractionated coconut oil and massaged into your lower legs to get the blood flowing after that long flight is over. (It's also useful for pain relief, too--much like arnica, but less-expensively).


Crowded airport from lunchtimemama