Homeopathy for Jet Lag

The disorientation (both physical and psychological) that often follows lengthy or frequent airplane flights, particularly those that involve entering and leaving different time zones such as during international travel, can be frustrating and even debilitating. Fortunately, homeopathy offers several remedies that can help you reset your internal clock and adjust quickly to your new time zone.

Homeopathic remedies for jet lag are generally prescribed according to the specific symptom(s) experienced, but there are a few universal remedies that seem to address classic symptoms.

They are plant-derived substances of:

  • Arnica Montana (Leopard’s bane)
  • Bellis perennis (Daisy)
  • Chamomilla (Wild chamomile)
  • Ipecacuanha (Ipecac)
  • Lycopodium (Clubmoss)

Remember, that routine, non-homeopathic doses of these substances are counter-effective and can be toxic. It is the diluted homeopathic remedy that is able to help jet lag.

How do Homeopathic Remedies Improve Jet-lag Symptoms?

The objective of homeopathic remedies for jet lag is to hasten the symptoms in small incremental phases or stages to produce a more natural return to the body’s own biological (circadian) rhythm and routine. By way of analogy, consider a manual clock that is five minutes (or 300 seconds) behind. Rather than rapidly rotating forward the “minute hand” on the clock, an alternative would be to set the clock such that it gains five seconds every minute. After just 60 minutes (one hour), it would have gained 300 seconds and the time on the clock would now be correct.

In major episodes of jet lag, the body and mind have been alternately pushed forward and pulled back repeatedly for as many as 12 hours on international flights. This causes the body’s circadian rhythms to be out of sync with the local destination time and confuses the body’s accustomed eating, sleeping and elimination times.

The homeopathic remedies listed above, if taken by healthy individuals in larger doses, could actually produce or mimic the common symptoms associated with jet lag (temporary insomnia, alternate drowsiness, irritability, light-headedness, gastro-intestinal upsets, and irregularity). But when taken in miniscule, diluted doses by a person who is already symptomatic, they can ease the body’s “correction” back to a normal circadian rhythm.

Which Homeopathic Remedies Help Specific Jetlag Symptoms?

Arnica Montana: (Leopard’s Bane, Wolf’s Bane, Mountain tobacco, Sneezewort):
The entire plant and yellow flower of Arnica Montana, grown in the mountains of Europe and Serbia, is used to create homeopathic remedies. Arnica acts upon the body as a stimulant and diuretic, and is sometimes used to alleviate symptoms of fatigue and foggy thinking. It is believed to promote the healing of damaged tissue and is used for physical and emotional shock and injuries, including joint and muscle problems.

How does this relate to jet lag? Although no actual or external bruising or physical injury is associated with jet lag, there can be less apparent “trauma” at the cellular and tissue level. Long hours of inactivity and sitting on an airplane may produce swollen feet and legs, impaired circulatory function, fluid retention, and pooled blood. In these circumstances, there is decreased oxygen flow to blood cells, similar to the cellular and tissue conditions found in bruising and injury (it is old, dead, red blood cells that produce the familiar blackish-bluish appearance of bruises). When externally applied to actual wounds, arnica hastens the turnover of dead cells and tissue and promotes healing. Although generally poisonous when taken orally, arnica is heavily diluted for homeopathic remedies.

Bellis Perennis: (English Daisy, common daisy):
In homeopathy, bellis perennis is traditionally used for treating wounds, bruising and trauma. This species, native to Europe, is often used in combination with arnica montana to treat bruising, trauma and muscle soreness, and has a similar effect. It is also used as an anti-spasmodic, which can alleviate symptoms associated with discomfort of the legs and feet after long airplane flights. Acting as a stimulant and diuretic, it is also used to relieve venous congestion due to mechanical causes, such as sitting for long periods without frequent exercise. Some homeopathic professionals also prescribe bellis perennis to address problems associated with awakening mid-sleep and other sleep interruptions.

Chamomilla: (Wild chamomile):
Fresh juice extracted from the whole flowering German or Hungarian chamomile plant is used in herbal medicine as a relaxant and sedative. In homeopathic remedies, it can be dehydrated and pulverized into a powdered additive for use in alleviating stress, sleeplessness, anxiety, and disorientation. Chamomile tea is widely known for its ability to induce drowsiness and assist in more restful sleep.

Lycopodium (Club Moss) and Lycopus Virginicus:
Lycopodium is used by homeopaths to address gastric problems such as bloating and gas. Chinese clubmoss reputedly is used for anxiety, mood swings and restlessness. A related remedy, Lycopus Virginicus, is used for insomnia or restless sleep, especially in the early hours of sleep.

Ipecacuanha: (Ipecac):
In strong doses, the dried root of the South American Ipecacuanha, commercially known as ipecac, is an emetic, inducing nausea and vomiting. Used in homeopathic remedies in much smaller doses, it is an expectorant (causing one to cough out) that promotes the secretions of the respiratory tract.

A few other homeopathic remedies are worthy of note. Gelsemium may relieve total fatigue or weak arm and leg muscles. Cocculus, a tropical plant, is sometimes recommended for nausea and dizziness, especially associated with airplane light-headedness or tinnitus (ringing in the ears).

A homeopathic combination of the first five remedies listed above is available in many health food stores, drug stores and airport convenience stores under the commercial name of No-Jet-Lag.

What is Jet Lag?

Jet lag is neither an illness nor disease, but rather a package of temporary symptoms that most often occur after long or frequent airplane flights to and from different time zones. The human body normally operates on a relatively routine circadian rhythm that regulates sleep, hunger and elimination, among other body functions. When this rhythm is interrupted by significant changes in the time of day, or is bounced back and forth between different time zones, the body tries to compensate and easily fatigues.

What is Homeopathy?

One of the oldest forms of medical treatment worldwide, practitioners of homeopathy rely on the “Law of Similars” to “treat like with like.” The principle behind this practice is that any substance that can produce symptoms can also be used as a medicine for the same symptoms when used in much smaller doses. Vaccine drugs (using dead or live viruses or organisms) operate on a similar principle.

Additional Resources

Some helpful resources on homeopathy include the North American Society of Homeopaths and the National Center for Homeopathy.

“No-Jet-Lag Product Specifications.” Available at www.nojetlag.com

Ullman, Dana. “Healthy Travel with Homeopathy…” BNET, August 2001.

Wong, Cathy. “Five Jet Lag Remedies.” 19 July 2006.

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