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The Natural Way – a guest column

July 5th, 2016 · No Comments · Uncategorized

Enough of yellow fever shortages and Zika. I think you will find the following information from my naturopathic friend and traveler of interest and benefit! Thanks Leena

Travel medicine has come a long way in the last few decades. People are travelling more than ever before which has dramatically increased travel-related health concerns. While conventional MDs are skilled in running lab tests, prescribing pills & injections to address these potentially fatal concerns, there are often missing pieces in the health puzzle which naturopathic medicine aims to put together.


While naturopathy recognizes the importance of accurate diagnosis and medical interventions, the naturopathic model incorporates prevention with a focus on strengthening your system and addressing the root cause rather than fixing the symptom. Naturopathic doctors are regulated in Ontario and have training in conventional medical diagnosis & natural treatments such as nutrition, nutraceuticals, Asian medicine & acupuncture, botanical medicine, supplements and other modalities.


The naturopathic approach to travel medicine is multifaceted. One aspect is prevention. What are ways to prevent you from getting sick in the first place ?  

There are various ways to support your immune system to fight germs. Why is it that two people may be travelling, eating the exact same foods while one person gets terrible diarrhea and the other one is fine? Both were likely exposed to the same germ but one person had the ability to fight it off. By supporting your immune system, you can reduce your chances of getting sick on a trip. (Below are some suggestions to support your immune system.)


Naturopathic doctors in Ontario do not prescribe pharmaceutical medications, however they are trained in understanding their side effects and have access to a variety of natural options to choose from. For example, while Gravol is widely used for nausea, some people do not like the drowsy effect and may opt for natural options such as Ginger or Vitamin B6. Another aspect is to minimize the side effects of pharmaceutical medications. For example, there are many medications that target bacteria that causes diarrhea. Antibiotics can work well to kill that bacteria, however they also eliminate beneficial bacteria in the gut which can make you susceptible to re-infection. If antibiotics are prescribed, naturopathic doctors will often suggest specific probiotics to support healing.


Naturopathic medicine recognises the body-mind-emotions connection.

Travelling can increase anxiety – fear of flying or anxiety of new environments can put a damper on travel. Naturopathic doctors can customize herbal formulas to reduce anxiety. Herbs such as lavender, passionflower or lemon balm soothe the nervous system, however are best taken under guidance so as not to interact with medications you may be on.



Naturopathic Tips for Travelling :


Support your Immune System

Before your trip, it is advised to balance your immune system to help you fight unwanted infections.


  • Eat nutrient dense foods packed with antioxidants, such as berries, cocoa, chia seeds and whole fruits and vegetables.
  • Supplements such as Echinacea or Astragalus, Vit C & D, Zinc can be individualized based on your constitution and your health concerns.
  • Get sufficient sleep and rest before the trip.


Support your Digestive System

The digestive system is a complex yet delicate system in our bodies, and is most commonly affected while travelling when we are consuming new foods in new environments.


  • Electrolytes are a must when travelling in hot climates or when experiencing diarrhea, as they help rehydrate the body and provide mineral salts.
  • Digestive enzymes and herbal bitters can support digestion, assimilation and elimination of food.
  • Probiotics are critical in supporting intestinal flora – how much, when and which type should be customized based on your travel destination and your current state of health. There are many options of probiotics that are shelfstable which can remain viable on your trip.
  • To prevent or treat parasitic infections, herbs such as neem or black walnut have antimicrobial properties. Best to take under the guidance of a naturopathic doctor. In certain cases, your MD may also prescribe medications for you.
  • Other herbs such as slippery elm or marshmallow root can be taken to soothe the digestive tract if there is inflammation or irritation.


Naturopathic medicine can work in supporting your health needs in addition to conventional treatment at your travel clinic. Working alongside your doctor to ensure your health needs are taken care of before, during and after the trip, we can support your body’s innate ability to fight germs, adapt to new environments naturally and effectively so that you can continue to enjoy travelling.



Dr. Leena Athparia is a naturopathic doctor with an interest in travel health & treating chronic health concerns. She has travelled extensively to many countries in Asia, Europe, Middle East and South America and has had first-hand experience with naturopathic travel medicine. Leena has a particular focus in Ayurveda, Traditional Chinese Medicine & Acupuncture which she incorporates into her naturopathic practice. If you would like to book an appointment with Dr. Leena Athparia ND, please email her at lathparia@naturopathicfoundations.ca, or contact Naturopathic Foundations at 905-940-2727.

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