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.
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?
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
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.
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
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
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
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.
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.
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 (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.