The Traveller’s Medicine Cabinet: 5 Essential Drugs for the Road

While out roving you aren’t always (or even often) anywhere near a hospital or pharmacy. But, if you pack these nutritional supplements and natural medications wherever you go, you’ll be able to cope just fine.

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#1: Kratom

The Situation

You’re hiking the Appalachian trail in the dead of winter. It’s freezing cold, the terrain is rough, and you’ve got another four hours of trudging through the snow before you reach your destination for the night.

Suddenly the worst happens; your boot gets caught between two rocks, you lose your footing and tumble to the ground, wrenching your ankle in the process. After a loud yelp of pain and several creative obscenities, you manage to sort yourself out and rise back to your feet. You can still walk, but every step is agony. How on earth are you going to make it to town before nightfall?

Kratom Leaf
© Miserlou

What It Is

A leafy green plant grown mainly in Southeast Asia.


First and foremost, Kratom is a powerful painkiller similar to Morphine or Opium. In fact, recent research suggests that Kratom is so similar to opiates that it can replace them during withdrawal. Kratom can also be used as an anti-depressant, analgesic, or a stimulant. It has immunostimulant properties and can also be used to treat diarrhoea.


Kratom is mildly addictive, about on par with caffeine. You cannot overdose on it, and the only known negative effects from use are nausea and constipation (which is useful when you’re suffering from Montezuma’s revenge.)


Kratom can be purchased in dried leafy form, as an extract, a resin, or in pill form. It can be brewed into tea, eaten raw, dropped on the tongue (for the resin), or even smoked. You can purchase it here. For ease of packing, I recommend buying it in capsule form.


Kratom is legal in most of the developed world. Only Thailand, Bhutan, Australia, Finland, Denmark, Poland, Lithuania, Malaysia, and Myanmar have laws against it.

#2: Kava Kava

The Situation

Your wife, your doctor, and your common sense all warned you to take care of your toothache before you went on that three week Elk hunting trip in the mountains of New Zealand. Now you’re miles away from civilization and your jaw feels like its been worked over by the steroid-crazed lovechild of Mike Tyson and Buzz Aldrin. You’d give anything just to numb this pain, but the Tylenol in your first aid kit does nothing to help you.

Kava Kava
Kava Kava

What It Is

A leafy green plant grown throughout the Pacific islands.


Kava can help to treat social anxiety or stress, and also works as a powerful relaxant. A glass of water spiked with Kava extract will knock you out faster than a bottle of whiskey and a copy of The Horse Whisperer.

Kava is also an extremely effective numbing agent. Just smear the powder around your mouth for a while, and you’ll feel its effects. Actually, you won’t feel much of anything at all.


None to the drug itself. Some supplement manufacturers grind up Kava stems into their pills and powder, which can lead to liver toxicity. Chronic, heavy use can lead to a minor skin rash. Use Kava in moderation, and only buy it from trusted sources.


Kava Kava can be purchased as a powder, pill, paste, or mixed into a variety of drinks and foods. The Kona Kava farm sells high quality Kava in a dizzying selection of forms. I recommend buying the powder in order to use it as a topical numbing agent.


Kava is legal everywhere.

#3: Oil of Oregano

The Situation

You’ve just been hit by the perfect storm of traveller’s ailments while backpacking in rural Slovenia. You have a nasty flu, a minor fever and an intestinal parasite twisting your bowels into its own personal playground. What on earth can help you now?

Oil of Oregano
Oil of Oregano

What It Is

Oregano is primarily a culinary herb (of the mint family, if you care about that sort of thing). In addition to being a staple of Italian cuisine, dried Oregano is famous for looking a little like marijuana to people who have never actually seen marijuana.


Oil of Oregano helps to fight influenza and colds. It is useful in bringing down mild fevers, kills fungal infections, and can help to combat intestinal parasites. If you’re a lady, oil of oregano can be used to relieve painful menstruation. It also makes a fantastic topical antiseptic.




You can purchase oil of oregano as an actual oil, or in capsule form. Most health supplement websites carry it, as do stores like Whole Foods.


Oregano and its oil extract are legal everywhere.

#4: Ginger Root

The Situation

You’ve just committed the #1 Traveller’s Gaffe: you drank the water. That’s extra bad news, considering your diarrhea just kicked in as your boat sailed away from harbor. Now you’re trapped on a barge bound for Costa Rica with diarrhea and seasickness making you their bitch. By the time morning rolls around, you’ll be lucky if your bowels are still on the inside.

Ginger Root
Ginger Root © Sanjay Acharya

What It Is

An edible tuber grown across Asia, West Africa, and the Caribbean.


Ginger compounds are very effective in treating diarrhea, especially the Escherichia coli enterotoxin-induced diarrhea that’s such a common killer in the Third World. Ginger can also be used to treat nausea brought on by seasickness, morning sickness, or chemotherapy.


Ginger is recognized as safe by the FDA. That said, it can still cause heartburn and nausea if taken in excessive quantities. Remember: a little goes a long way.


You can buy ginger by the root, or as a powdered extract. Biting into the root does a great job of clearing up a stuffy nose, at the minor cost of making your face burn like the fires of Hades. Ginger root can be bought at pretty much any grocery store. For pills, powders, teas, and supplements, try here.


Ginger is legal everywhere.

#5: Kanna

The Situation

After four hellish (but wonderful, in that strange way travails often are) trips ’round the globe, you’re finally ready for your return flight home. This is the part of the trip you hate the most. Dangerous animals, strange diseases, and hiking injuries you can deal with, but once you’re on that plane your life is officially out of your hands. It’s enough to make you want to panic.

Kanna Capsules
Kanna (Sceletium Tortuosum) Capsules

What It Is

Kanna, or Sceletium tortuosum, as it’s friend’s call it, is an herb found in South Africa. It is one of the oldest intoxicants in human history.


In high doses (100 mg+), Kanna is a euphoric. In normal doses (50 mg) it acts as a mood elevator and an anti-anxiety medication. It also works as an appetite suppressant, and can lead to tiredness and vivid dreaming. In other words, Kanna is the perfect pre-flight medication.


There are none listed, but it’s best not to take any mood elevator while already on SSRIs, MAOIs, or other psychiatric medications.

Also, if you happen to be travelling to Amsterdam or Thailand, Kanna has strong synergistic effects with cannabis. Just sayin’.


Kanna is most often found as a powder. You can eat it, smoke it, or use it the same way you would snuff. I recommend buying from Bouncing Bear Botanicals as they have an excellent selection of Kanna (as well as other legal intoxicants) and great customer service.


Kanna is legal everywhere.

  1. I’ve bookmarked this e-mail. I was expecting the usual otc drugs to be featured, but was pleasantly surprised that it was all natural drugs. Sweet! I’ve used ginger before, but never any other others. Thanks for the heads up.

    1. I always carry garlic, turmeric, onion and basis leaves in my cabinet.

  2. Interesting post. I was caught off guard to see you give such ‘ethnobotanicals’ an actual practical use in traveling. I think it’s important to note that several of the substances have a rap for being ‘legal highs’ used for recreational purposes, just in case travelers come across this implication when they go to purchase some of these like kratom, kanna, and kava. (this is seen in how most online vendors have disclaimers explicitly stating the items are not for consumption)

    needless to say, i’ve sampled a variety of ethnobotanicals, including those above, and have had various experiences (some unpleasant). so like most other medications, i’d highly recommend travelers give them a go before packing them.

    and finally – check out for detailed information on such substances. even though they focus on recreational usage, erowid’s still a respected source for factual info on drugs

  3. As far as I know, kava is currently half-legal in Canada and banned in France and Switzerland because of some cases of liver toxicity. However, all of those cases are connected with one manufacturer who did not only use the roots of the plant, but toxic parts too. If you buy from a trusted source, you should be ok. Oh, and… I love kava.

  4. Oil of oregano is great. I take it once a day on travels as a preventative measure.
    Tea tree oil is one of my essential travel items. I use it to disinfect cuts, treat rashes, as emergency deodorant or as mosquito repellent.

  5. Kava is not legal everywhere.

    “In the UK, the Medicines for Human Use (Kava-kava) (Prohibition) Order 2002 prohibits the sale, supply or import of most derivative medicinal products. Kava is banned in Switzerland, France, and The Netherlands.”

  6. I think I will stick with travelling with my wee first aid kit, it makes things simpler. I guess your out of luck if none of these plants just happen to be available when you need them….

  7. So… I’m supposed to bring 5!!! different herbs on my next trip, some of which are illegal in some countries, and some of which have weird side-effects?

    No thanks. I’ll stick to my travel drugs of choice: Advil (ibuprofen) and Pepto-Bismol. Theyre cheap, safe, and won’t get me any funny looks (or get me arrested).

  8. IBUPROFEN SIDE EFFECTS: The most common side effects from ibuprofen are rash, ringing in the ears, headaches, dizziness, drowsiness, abdominal pain, nausea, diarrhea, constipation and heartburn. NSAIDs reduce the ability of blood to clot and therefore increase bleeding after an injury. Ibuprofen may cause ulceration of the stomach or intestine, and the ulcers may bleed. Sometimes, ulceration can occur without abdominal pain, and black, tarry stools, weakness, and dizziness upon standing (orthostatic hypotension) due to bleeding may be the only signs of an ulcer. NSAIDs reduce the flow of blood to the kidneys and impair function of the kidneys. The impairment is most likely to occur in patients who already have impaired function of the kidney or congestive heart failure, and use of NSAIDs in these patients should be cautious. People who are allergic to other NSAIDs, including aspirin, should not use ibuprofen. Individuals with asthma are more likely to experience allergic reactions to ibuprofen and other NSAIDs. Fluid retention (edema), blood clots, heart attacks, hypertension and heart failure have also been associated with the use of NSAIDs.

    1. THANK YOU! Why anyone would stipulate that advil is better than a plant just because its approved by the FDA is beyond me… Ignorance… Ignorance everywhere… *insert buzz light year and woody meme here*

    2. A few pretty quick to list the tons of side effects of ibuprofen – all of which have about zero chance of happening. It works. It’s not like you are going to be taking a shitload of it.
      Typical reaction of the uneducated .
      I suggest you pack in a bag of kratom and see how much you enjoy getting busted since it looks exactly like weed. Might as well pack a revolver just fir the fun of it . Why are so many against modern medicine ? Because they have no idea , it is too complicated and you have to be smart, so it is easier to jump on the anti establishment bandwagon I mean you read it on the net without any scientific reviews so it has to be right . Did I mention I have some snake oil you might be interested in says right on the label it cures everything except stupidity which it increases hahahah

  9. PEPTO-BISMOL SIDE EFFECTS: Nervous system side effects have included weakness, fatigue, depression, anxiety, irritability, insomnia, unsteady gait, motor incoordination, loss of memory, jerky movements, mental confusion, disorientation, difficulty in walking and speaking, tremor, myoclonic jerks, and incontinence. Myoclonic encephalopathy has occurred rarely. It should be noted that nervous system side effects have been the most common feature of bismuth toxicity.

    Nervous system toxicity is a common feature of bismuth toxicity. Bismuth toxicity is characterized by the insidious onset of weakness and fatigue, depression, anxiety, irritability, insomnia, unsteady gait, motor incoordination, loss of memory, and jerky movements. Acute toxicity may result in the development of mental confusion, disorientation, difficulty in walking and speaking, tremor, myoclonic jerks, and incontinence.

    Myoclonic encephalopathy has occurred in patients who have ingested bismuth for several months to years, but the incidence is very rare. Recovery of patients from bismuth encephalopathy may take several months following discontinuation of use. Bismuth encephalopathy has generally been reported in patients ingesting salts other than subsalicylate.

    Salicylism has been reported in patients who chronically ingest bismuth subsalicylate. Common complaints include vertigo, diminished hearing, lethargy, CNS dysfunction, confusion, tinnitus, vomiting, and abdominal pain. Patients may present with respiratory alkalosis and metabolic acidosis, azotemia, and hypoprothrombinemia and platelet dysfunction. The elderly may be particularly vulnerable to the development of salicylism.

    Other side effects have included salicylism.

    Gastrointestinal side effects have included darkening of the tongue or stool. These effects have been temporary in the majority of cases.

  10. Dear Robert Evans,
    I am in love with you judging by your description and this website. Thanks for the info, I found it tremendously helpful.

  11. I like the idea for Kanna, seeing as I have an anxiety disorder and I’m getting off of what I’m currently on…I’ll have to try this! Thanks :]

  12. Dear Robert Evans,

    I am also in love with you. I am a travel writer, tree planter and fellow barefoot runner, and you have saved my planting season this year – and hopefully offered me some entertainment in the loneliness of the north HAHA

  13. kroltan,

    pepto and advil are also proven and documented remedies–much more so than “natural remedies.”

    The number of side effects listed is proportional to the extent to which the individual causative agent is systematically studied in varying populations.

    Herbals (which have fewer peer-reviewed studies in terms of efficacy) have fewer side effects listed because they are not as well documented. It’s hard to study herbals systematically because in some cases the actual chemical entity that is pharmacologically active is not yet discovered. And in the cases where we know what is causing the herbals effect, it’s very difficult to get a consistent dose from different manufacturers in order to duplicate results.

    So, just because something is listed as “natural” does NOT mean that it is safe. Make sure you buy from a reputable manufacturer–someone that preferably has an independent agency duplicate their claims–because right now herbals aren’t regulated by the FDA.

  14. there’s no elks in new zealand loser, also we have hospitals and dentists so taking herbs is a waste of time. very clever.

  15. Good info. Good scenarios. You’re kind of funny too, and partially good looking.

  16. this is an awesome article, very informational. I didnt know there were so many other cannabis like herbs out there. Keep things like this coming.

  17. YES!! kroltan your the man love it..but really all natural is the way to go in so many different ways

  18. I’m off to Fiji in a 2 months and am both looking forward to, and nervous about, trying Kava. It should be a great experience!

    And sorry, but I do have to second one of the posts above… I’m fairly sure Elk’s aren’t found in New Zealand!

  19. a) Great post, I’ll keep it in mind.

    b) Teddy Roosevelt Donated a small heard of Elk to NZ in 1909. Being now natural predators and a climate similar to the Northwestern US, the Elk flourished.

    I believe the Maori name for them is the Wapiti.

    A quick search pulled up this: Have a look if you want. They may now be a different subspecies, but they sure as hell look just like a Roosevelt elk.

  20. why was thailand compared to amsterdam regarding marijuana use?? i’ve always read that thailand has some pretty scary drug laws….are they not enforced or what?

  21. @kroltan – what are the most common side effects of these 5 essential drugs? oh right – no one can say with any empirical evidence b/c they haven’t had to go through the painful process of scientific evaluation and FDA approval that includes reporting everything people experience while part of a clinical trial, drug related or not. i’m not suggesting these don’t have value, b/c i believe they do, but don’t insult people with an apples to oranges comparison.

  22. “there’s no elks in new zealand loser, also we have hospitals and dentists so taking herbs is a waste of time. very clever.” – Jane

    You are a horrible waste of a person that might have a sense of humor. Change please, or turn yourself in to the miserable people police.
    Concerned Citizen

  23. Kava Kava is also banned in the US due to the severe liver toxicity it causes. Also, the FDA does regulate herbals, just not tightly. All manufacturers really have to prove is that the pills contain the herbs they claim to. There are also cGMP standards that have to be followed. They do not regulate safety and/or efficacy.

  24. Kava is banned in the US ?

    Funny, I just saw Kava at the Whole Foods here in Reno.

    So much disinformation out there from people too stupid or lazy to be bothered with facts !

  25. I doubt I’ll ever take advantage of it but there is some really useful information here, thanks!

    Now, does do you know of anything to cure really negative people? I don’t get the reaction of some of these folks… OK, there are no elk in New Zealand, so what? Guess that hunting trip would have been a bust even without the toothache!

  26. Sweet! I’m from South Africa and there is a Kanna bush in my mum’s garden, I’m going to research how to harvest and prepare it.
    cool post, man

  27. If I have to listen to one more dillweed bootlick for the FDA I’ll be sick.

    The FDA…. the ones that put out killer drugs? Do a little research you sick little monkeys! How about all the old folks who have PERMANENT jaw damage from taking Fosimax? Or the dead people who took Viagra. It’s a long list of damage from “Peer reviewed” meds sponsored by the FDA.

    I’ll bet you believe Aspartame is safe too. Tools.

  28. Nice article

    Kava Kava ROOT does not cause hepatotoxicity at all. As someone else mentioned, it is only the stems and leaves that do that and good suppliers will not incluce these in their powder.

    Not being American I couldn’t care less what the FDA has to say about anything but people should bear in mind that these natural remedies have been in use for an awful lot longer than the pharmaceutical products some of you seem to think are so great.

    Do you think perhaps the fact that drug companies spend a lot of money lobbying governments has anything to do with the reason highly addictive drugs such as diazepam are legal whilst people waste time campaigning to outlaw harmless plants that GSK and their friends won’t make a bean from?

    1. Everyone seems to forget that the FDA is bed with big pharmaceutical companies. If you are being a blog Nazi and commenting on the Elk or lack there of instead of seeing the HUMOR in the scenarios provided,then know that these aren’t the droids you’re looking for, Move along! But I’d rather try a natural herb/spice vs possibly becoming impaired or addicted to ,or dependent on any of the prescription drug companies alternatives.Trust nothing that comes in “little pill/capsule form” Just because it’s legal and for sale in the stores, doesn’t mean it’s good for you.Think Alcohol and Tobacco! Have a great day everyone and treat your bodies well, it’s TRULY, the only one you have!!

  29. Can’t say much about the Kava. However, Oil of Oregano is a very good idea. Much better that taking antibiotics when you get a stomach bug.

    I’m currently living in an area where the water is not so good (dominican Republic). Whenever my family starts to have stomach problems we crush a clove of garlic and drink with water and take some oregano pills. So far this has been far more effective than the heavy antibiotics I once got from a local doctor.

  30. A number of friends suggested Kava Kava as a mild euphoric/anti-depressant a couple years ago so I tried it and had the most remarkable side effect I’ve ever had from any drug of any kind.

    Soon after taking it, my mood turned very nasty and I was irritated with everything and everyone around me. I thought it had to be coincidence, so tried Kava Kava again a couple weeks later on an unremarkable day. Same thing – just a nasty mood within an hour. I’ve never met anyone who’s had a similar response, but I thought I’d mention it so you can try it when a really bad mood won’t be a disaster. P.S. why Buzz Aldrin?

  31. WOW! I really love the post, the amount of information, and the references – of course everything needs to be taken with a grain of salt and everyone that has a slight bit of a brain will do their research into the legalities of the areas they are planning on visiting. For the ones that don’t do their research, that’s a total pisser for them. As far as the FDA, have you seen the news lately? What do they know? Honestly! I bet you believe everything the US Government is telling you too, hey I have some ocean front property in Arizona I will sell you, really cheap! Thank you for the post.

  32. This is great! I love to travel and hate traditional medications, so I never carry any with me. Which is something I usually end up regretting.
    Now, elk hunting in New Zealand???

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  34. Kava Kava is ill eagle in Canada As well. The law was passed a few years ago. A woman went to jail for trying to smuggle it in because she was already using it before the law was passed as a natural remedy for her depression and anxiety.

  35. Bunch o’ pill poppers and haters. This is a great article, keep spreading the word about ethnobotanicals!

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  37. Thank you for that information. I appreciate it and I actually often refer to natural remedies when I have problems with my health. Not that I don’t believe in the medical methods but I just think that for some problems, nature is a better solution compared to a medical intervention.

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  39. also, try grapefruit seed extract for preventative measures against travel-related intestinal issues. 10 drops a day in a glass a juice or water (juice recommended since otherwise it tastes pretty nasty) and you won’t have to worry if you drink small amounts of the water!
    can’t count the number of travelers i’ve met who don’t think about the fact that the ice in their mixed drink isn’t made from bottled water… and then end up paying the price.

  40. I think i’ll play safe and stick with the locally available drugs around like advil and the rest. It wont have any funny side effects and you wont get arrested.

  41. Unfortunately, because none of this stuff IS evaluated by the FDA, it’s a total crap-shoot in getting the effective, genuine article. I’m not saying the sources you offer are good or bad. But I would advise anyone considering a purchase to check out some reviews on third-party, unaffiliated sites.’s review of LegalHigh’s KavaKava-Kanna Blend isn’t worth the paper it’s not printed on, if you catch my meaning.

    Take my advice and save yourself some cash. There are definitely reputable and consistent vendors for all the “drugs” listed here.

    to the author, small typo:
    “morning roles around” -> morning rolls around

  42. i like smoking weed as much as the next person, and couple of these sound a little bit like weed. but…somayousguys are soundin pretty hippy-like. haha, i like it.

  43. Kava is 100% illegal in Canada. It is a narcotic. It can have severe side effects, not the least of which is major liver damage. I’ve seen well intentioned parents let their little kids try it overseas and it has an almost instantaneous effect on them (it’s often an instantaneous effect on adults too). Some of the kids couldn’t walk for hours after a single gulp.

    Don’t use it. Don’t let kids use it. It may be a cultural thing in some places, but lots of drugs have cultural significance. Cultural significance doesn’t = safe. Especially when you’re talking about a developing nation.

    It’s dangerous (period!).

  44. To take a drug or not… personal choice.

    But also consider that many countries have strict quarantine rules on what organic materials you can bring into or out of the country. Don’t get yourself in unnecessary trouble.

  45. I really love kanna! i recommend it highly. It is a great substitute for marujuana :) I have smoked it several times, and it doesn’t take too much. It was a mellow, happy feeling for me.

  46. Very nice post BUT …
    (It’ll sound like a pharm ad but it’s true)
    Be sure you talk to a physician who knows your medical situation & is familiar with these herbal remedies (a tough thing to find to be sure) before taking many of these drugs – they interact with medications and even amongst each other- with other medications, other “natural drugs” or even just on their own with an underlying medical condition, they can cause side effects ranging from less than pleasant to potentially lethal (that means you die by the way).

    Another thing to watch for is this concept of not being able to overdose … while it may be considered difficult to overdose due to the amount required it is possible and again – different people and meds will react to these differently including the toxicity level. Another interesting point is that Naturopathy (the science of healing via natural remedies) actually finds that smaller amounts of many natural remedies are more potent (have more effect) than larger amounts. To tell you which and why and all would require years and volumes which Naturopathic (ND’s) study & undergo in order to become proficient.

    In other words “Just because they’re ‘natural’ doesn’t mean they’re good for you & also doesn’t mean that more is better.”
    Be Careful – you only have one life to live and you can only trash your liver and kidneys X amount before they too will leave you up a creek.

  47. I want to believe all of these so very badly. I have an anxiety disorder as well as someone else who commented earlier and I am a little wary of anything that might be habit forming so overall there are a few of these options that look really great. I also think once a month or so oil of oregano sounds pretty great. As a person who gets anxious though I would recommend (to others with anxiety) that you see a doctor, or at best a homeopath to make sure these are the right choice for you. Some drugs are stimulants and will make matters worse even though this handsome blogger may steer you in the other direction. I’m off to research.

  48. This is awesome! and all of the people bitching about elk not being in New Zealand, who cares, they do have red dear there, which look like elk, so its all good!

  49. Useful information! Now the question is finding a safe place to find some of these products where you can trust the seller to know you are buying a safe product. I think I’ll stick with my anxiety before trying some of these but thanks for the advice!

  50. I first heard of kava after browsing and have been an advocate ever since. I use it mostly for stress relief and it has worked wonders for me.

  51. Very cool post. The only one I’ve ever heard of being used medically was ginger so I learned a bit here. Also love your style of writing!

  52. Wow I had no idea oregano could do all that…and all I’ve been doing with it is putting it on my meatball sub. Thanks for sharing!

  53. At one point there were elk in New Zealand, they had been introduced from North America… but they have become so hybridized with the native deer that they can no longer be called true elk (or “wapiti”, which is a Native American word I believe…. definitely not Maori)

  54. Wait a second – I liked the Horse Whisperer!!! Anyway – great tips. Have not tried oil of oregano, although I have friends who swear by it!! Love the ginger – has been useful!

  55. Nice piece Robert!

    Am a big fan of Sceletium or Kanna (am also South African).
    You can get it in tea bags so drop a tea bag in a chilled bottle of water and enjoy as normal. Not much taste but is great for anxiety, meditation, yoga, trance parties…whatever floats your boat.
    The call it bushmans ecstacy here and if you smoke it you’ll know why =)
    Am about to leave on a little world adventure so thanks for the useful info.
    Safe travels.

  56. Please let me apologize for the rudeness, arrogance and ignorance of the commenter John Key. NZ Elk or Wapati are sadly almost non existent but a small breeding herd has been maintained. If only some would do a little research before opening their loud and obnoxious mouths the rest of the world wouldn’t be led to believe that all of us are complete morons. There are indeed Elk in New Zealand. Thank you for the interesting article.

  57. …. Like a few have said.. it would be personal choice to use any of these…and the author was trying to convey ideas on what remedies can be substituted for otc drugs when in other parts of the world… and they may not be called “elks”, but as the websites that have been posted about them.. they DO EXIST… and to the one who lives in NZ and denies there existence.. you need to get off your computer and get out more.. you live in NZ for petes sake.. jeesh.. and for the record… the comment thread was better than the article itself.. no offense Mr.Blake.. just find it amusing how so many people argue over the dumbest shit

  58. Hey, these are cool ideas! Don’t knock them unless you’ve tried them. I used ginger for an upset stomach all the time, it’s best if you can get it as a tea because it’s sort of a gross taste when you eat a bit of it. As for the others, well, the idea of painkillers in general freak me out but I’d probably be more willing to try natural ones.
    Also, yes, indeed, Kava Kava is nearly impossible to get in Canada. My father looked into bringing some here from the US, (where it is legal) and there are so many stupid rules and regulations, etc. So, no no on that one I guess. I was told it’s very useful though.

  59. Oh, also, probably one of the best things to have while you’re traveling, because it’s so easy to get everywhere is GARLIC!
    Buy that stuff, eat it up, do whatever you can to get it in you if you get sick, it’ll definitely fix you up.


    That said kratom is a really powerful painkiller, good for short term management of serious injuries…

  61. I tried the Coca leaves for altitude sickness when I was in Peru last year. They actually work very well. Incredibly bitter to chew by themselves, but you can boil them in tea with some sugar. The altitude sickness gives you a horrible headache which paracetamol just doesn’t help with. Coca tea cured it no problem. Just be aware that it’s illegal to take coca leaves OUT of Peru!

    The pictures from my Peru trip (at some of the highest points in the country, hence the coca leaves) are at:

  62. If the author doesn’t know that there aren’t any elk in New Zealand, he/she couldn’t know much of anything else. Be skeptical of this website!

  63. Funny about the elks. NZ – so wild and foreign you can just make stuff up. Yeah right.

  64. Dear Robert Evans,
    I love love hate you. You…travel the world and naked barefoot sprint. I…drive to my office everyday and write real estate contracts. See where the hate part fits?

    There is something always wrong with me. None of which are the least bit psychosomatic. I appreciate the education of this post. I’ll be pill poppin in no time!

    Dear May 10th Julie,

  65. Thank you very much for sharing this. Didn’t know that ginger helps in the case of diarrhea.

  66. Cool article! I like the idea of a natural pain killer that’s truly effective and I’d hate to find myself in a predicament with no meds available.
    It seems wild and crazy to me how the pharma companies have influenced the way the American public thinks. Seems they are more afraid of a cup of herbal tea then a lethal dose of cancer treatment. Amazing!

    As soon as the pharma people figure out how to profit even more from the plants the story and the laws will change – none of us will have access to plants any longer.

  67. this is quite interesting except for number 2. I am from New Zealand and I have that two steps from my front door and its actually called Kawa Kawa not Kava Kava.

  68. that kratom powder is strong stuff. i made some tea with about 2 tsp of it from amazon, and i was throwing up for hours.

  69. Whie I never used the four other drugs mentioned here, I can surely say ginger root do help! A lot! And not only from diarrhea. In fact, I use as the only medicine to cure cold, flu, cough and many other things. If you caugh cold or flu, best way is to make hot ginger tea with lemon and honey! :)

  70. Nice post! I’d never even heard of most of these. I don’t normally take the local medicines, but coca leaves are working wonders in South America to keep my energy levels up and the altitude sickness at bay.

  71. Great list of travel herbs! We’ve had to take plenty of pills and medicines to survive sicknesses on the road. Oregano Oil is amazing for fighting off sickness like colds and stomach flus and if you can get your hands on Oregano-8, it’s a perfect mix of oregano and other herbs that is sure to kick any illness!
    Thanks for the post!

  72. Good article, except for the bit about an Elk hunting trip in New Zealand. We do not have any Elk in my country :p

  73. Interesting natural remedies for uninvited ailments while traveling. Only if I knew what health issues I was going to face during my adventures.

    1. It’s good stuff. Strong taste, so I wash it down with beer to get it out of my mouth.

  74. Advice like this should be taken with caution. Recommendations are made on the author’s say-so and claims made on effectiveness are not backed up in any form except links to manufacturers.

    Herbal medicines have very little if any evidence of efficacy and in many situations can cause harm. An example is St John’s Wort; a common herbal remedy for depression. If you were to take SJW with warfarin (a common anticoagulant medicine) there is a very high risk of fatal haemorrhaging.

    Many medications are derived from a plant source (e.g. Digoxin from foxglove and morphine from opium poppies). The consensus of herbal remedies being better for you because they are natural and medications are ‘bad’ or dirty’ chemicals is simply false.

    A user above has copy and pasted the side effect profile of ibuprofen and peptobismal which quite rightly have a large list of ‘possible’ side effects. The only reason we know they cause these side effects is because they are regulated, all practitioners have a responsibility to report new adverse effects to the MHRA.

    The same is not true for herbal remedies because they are not regulated and there is no national or international reporting system. The notion that herbal medicines do not cause side effects is untrue there is just no evidence to prove or disprove they do. The other reason they dont cause side effects is because they don’t do anything and you are just taking a remedy with a placebo in it because some stranger with no qualifications said its good for your belly.

    People of the world please use common sense and don’t listen to unqualified advice on a vastly technical subject. There are professionals all around you willing to offer you advice; doctors, nurses, pharmacists. You listen to legal advice from a bin man or maybe you would?

  75. Some very useful and handy tips for travelers. I know Kava was a very popular drink among locals when visiting Fiji. Thanks for sharing!

  76. Great handy tips, when i stumbled upon your article, i was honestly expecting a list of over the counter medicines but this is great and natural! We in India also have some great tips like this one being having
    carom seeds with some sea salt in case on indigestion or any stomach related issues have tried this multiple times and it seems to work.
    Turmeric is also like an antiseptic, have it with warm milk if there is an injury it will heal it really well and quick!

  77. I’ve had Kava tea before. Anyone know if the tea would be just as effective in reducing stress? Or do I need to track down the actual plant? Anyway, thanks for the info. I’ll definitely remember the ginger one next time I’m sitting in a restaurant and realize I’ve been served tap water and I didn’t realize it.

  78. Kratom is a seriously great mood elevator. Totally fights depression and completely cured my anxiety. Just dont do more than a rounded table spoon of super bali unless you like nausea. Also yes, its highly effective at replacing opiates and works very good as a stepping stone away from addiction which is why it was ilkegal in thailand. Remember, laws are made by money and pharmaceutical companies lobby against natural remedies to replace their profitable poisions. Take alcohol for example. Perfectly legal and kills so many thousands of people a year in so many ways. Addictive and dangerous yet still legal. marijuana Kills nobody, isnt physically addictive nor very unhealthy at all and cures si many ailments yet considered a horrible drug and still illegal almost everywhere. Law is about money not whats right. Great article and I just wanted to bring some light and rationality to the brainwashed. Thanks.

  79. Thanks for this article. I knew about some of these remedies but 2 I want to look up further. The ones that I’m familiar with actually do exactly what you say. Great advice.

  80. We always, whenever possible, walk everywhere when we visit a new place. We rarely catch public transport, even if tuk tuk drivers in India and SE Asia can’t believe we’d actually want to walk from one place to the next! Now that we’re housesitting in France we’re back to eating healthily and my wife has started doing yoga again. Travelling is great, but it’s hard to stay healthy which is why we’re enjoying our downtime, getting back on the straight and narrow.

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