Chinese Herbal Medicine Travel Kit
A week from now I’ll be in Beijing! As part of my packing and prep, I’m gathering items for my Chinese herbal medicine travel kit. I’ve brought this kit with me all over the US and several second and third world countries, urban metropolises and remote rural spots, freezing mountains and hot tropical jungles. It has come in handy every trip I’ve taken, so I thought I’d share. Here’s what I bring to keep healthy while on the road:
What I pack: Chinese Herbal remedies for travel
White Flower Oil- This is a topical liniment composed of a variety of essential oils including wintergreen, eucalyptus, lavender, and menthol. It’s a wonderful topical pain reliever for sore muscles, stiff necks, or achy backs. After a long day of walking and traveling, I rub this on my legs and feet to rejuvenate and improve circulation. It also takes the itch out of bug bites and may even repel some insects. The essential oils have the aromatherapy effects of relaxing and invigorating- so in theory, it could help jet lag, fatigue, anxiety, depression, and home sickness. I’ve also used it to mask bad ambient odors by dabbing some on my neck so all I smell is minty goodness. Alternatively, you could sprinkle some oil on the source of the odor (dirty laundry, smelly shoes, etc.)
Huo Xiang Zheng Qi Shui- This herbal liquid is an incredibly effective remedy for traveler’s diarrhea, food poisoning, nausea and vomiting. Luckily, I’ve only ever had to take this on a few occasions. It tastes terrible, but it really works, really quickly. A couple of years ago I got food poisoning and was so sick I couldn’t even keep water down. This stuff saved me: a couple swigs and no more vomiting. It’s a good thing to keep on hand, wherever you are- when you need it you probably won’t feel up to a trip to the pharmacy or doctor’s office.
Bi Yan Pian- This is my favorite formula for most nose, sinus, ear, eye, and throat problems (colds, flu, allergies, postnasal drip, sore throat, cough, sinus headaches, stuffy ears, itchy eyes, etc.) Many of the ingredients have antiviral properties, and I have found it helpful for both preventing and treating many viral infections. I even found it helpful when I came down with dengue fever in southern Mexico (dengue is a virus transmitted through mosquito bites). For prevention, I take a dose before getting onto a plane or other high-germ environment.
Ginger candies- First off, these are delicious. They’re also great for treating nausea from motion sickness, soothing an upset stomach, and helping ears “pop” on airplanes during take off and landing. Ginger is also used in traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) to treat mild colds and flu manifesting with chills and body aches. I always have a couple in my handbag for emergencies (or a tasty treat). I buy mine from an Asian market, but you can also find them at stores like Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods.
Yunnan Baiyao- This is a very famous formula. The Chinese government has given it a Class-1 protection status, as status granted to only 2 herbal patents. Considering there are thousands of different Chinese herbal patents out there, this should give you an idea of just how precious and important this formula is. It is an incredibly powerful remedy for stopping bleeding, treating traumatic injuries, preventing and treating infection. It can be used topically for scrapes, cuts, bruises, even gun shot wounds. And can also be taken internally for internal bleeding, severe bruising, broken bones, sprained joints, abscesses and infections. Hopefully, you’ll never need to use it; but it’s good to have on hand in case.
I also bring enough acupuncture needles to treat friends and family on the road (and myself when needed).
And that’s basically it! This is by no means a complete medical kit, but it does address some of the more common travel health conditions. Of course, I would recommend bringing all the usual first aid items (like bandages, sterile gauze, alcohol swabs, antibiotic ointment, and pain relievers, etc.) Get your vaccinations. And always pack a good supply of prescribed medications, supplements, or herbs.
Wishing you fun and healthy travels!