Like many I knew I’d be going back on the road, it was a matter of when not if. I wanted to know, was it safe? Is it right for me, and can I make it work given the post-pandemic environment? My decision to get back on the road was predicated on how healthy I was, so before the call came I knew I had to make the most of my knowledge and preparations to make sure I could travel again with confidence.
I had always maintained that exercise nutrition and recovery were important parts of what travellers needed to do, and now it was time to knock my own preparations in these areas up a notch. As an advocate of getting great sleep and being able to measure it, I had a few tools at my disposal. The most important to me was being able to measure the quality of my sleep, to make sure I was well-rested as I knew from pre-pandemic times, sleep would be disrupted again. Brad Stulberg and Steve Magness’s book Peak Performance really rang true for me, they suggest we don’t underperform from a lack of ability but from a lack of being adequately recovered. I took that to heart. I upped my game from my weekly 2 to 3 runs to 4 to 5 plus commensurate relaxation, yoga and stretching sessions.
I was able to measure and monitor my progress through a mix of subjective feeling and apps I use and recommend to other people I consult within the Travel Wellness space. I then turned my mind to what I like to think of as game-changers in terms of wellness for people on the road, Adaptogens.
I used adaptogens prior to the pandemic and will continue to use them. They give me much comfort in what they’re able to help me achieve in terms of warding off any untoward health issues which are particularly relevant in post-pandemic times.
They are Holy Basil, Amla, Rhodiola and Liquorice. I focused on these 4 because they were within easy reach and I had used them before. Why else did I pick these? Well, they are relatively easy to get hold of even now in times of COVID. Three are powerful adaptogens in their own right and the fourth is a mild adaptogen with a track record of being an anti-viral powerhouse. All four if used therapeutically have very adaptogenic and anti-viral properties. This was important to me because I wanted the science that backed these up. The science says they all work through the HPA axis of the body and have a dual direction action in their capabilities. This simply means they work intelligently in the body and can be taken over a long period of time with increasing accruing benefits. This is health insurance I like!
Holy basil also known as Tulsi is a powerful antioxidant and anti-viral. The reason I take it is it increases the presence of two powerful antioxidants superoxide dismutase and superoxide catalase, both are useful in helping my body detoxify. The first thing I noticed when I took it in a therapeutic dose was I had an immediate sense of calm come over me. A great thing about tulsi is you can find it in teabags, it travels well and is widely available.
The second adaptogen is Amla also called the Indian Gooseberry. It is the second-highest fruit in vitamin C and it beats my pesky store-bought vitamin C hands down unless it has accompanying flavonoids like rutin and quercetin. When I couldn’t find Indian Gooseberry I have been known to use vitamin C which will give me some value. Even though amla is a mild adaption it is a great choice with proven documented validity on account of the high amount of vitamin C it contains. For me, the trick with vitamin C has been to take it to bowel tolerance levels for it to deliver a therapeutic dose (it may be different for you). This can be uncomfortable on occasion but once I’ve done that, I’ve been able to back off just under that level and still been able to maximise its benefits.
The third is Rhodiola also known as Winter Cherry or Arctic Root. It’s great for chronic stress and immune depletion. It’s a well-researched adaptogen and has significant comprehensive benefits. It is neuro-protective, hepato-protective and radio-protective. Radio-protection is quite important for us as we travel the globe being exposed to more than our fair share of cosmic and non-ionising radiation. Rhodiola is also known to help reduce fatigue, I love it for this fact alone. As a cooling adaptogen, it is less likely to cause overstimulation and nervousness. The one thing I would say about Rhodiola is that it has quite a sharp taste. If you don’t like consuming it away from food be careful how much you put into your smoothie or drink as it can throw the taste off.
Finally Liquorice, I have to be a bit careful with this one because high blood pressure has a history in my family line so I use it sparingly. I’m not talking about the sweet store-bought sugared confectionery either, I mean the sap of the liquorice root. If you don’t have access to twig liquorice, you probably could use the store-bought type for some of the beneficial aspects of the pure root. However, you want to use a little as you don’t want the sugar to overpower the beneficial effects of its adaptogenic properties. Liquorice can be used for adrenal insufficiency which is also known as adrenal fatigue. This is where liquorice comes into its own for us travellers, adrenal fatigue is one of those things that challenges frequent flying. Liquorice can also be used to balance cortisol levels and it is an immuno-modulator.
I like to keep things simple, so how I use these adaptogens is, I always pack holy basil teabags on my person when I’m travelling, this is my go-to adaptogenic herb and it hasn’t failed me yet. When I’m home I tend to either take amla in my smoothie which can give it a nice taste. I also combine amla with rhodiola and liquorice to make a hot herbal stove-top tea I can use for my duration at home. This means I always have something on the boil I can warm up in the morning and get a good cup of adaptogenic goodness.
While I’ve been waiting for that “CALL” to get back on the road I have an increasing sense of readiness, vitality, and space, even though the stresses of not being on the road have taken a different turn working from home and juggling other priorities. As a post-pandemic travel landscape awaits us, all we can do is build resilience. I hope this has been useful, this has been my experience with a really good group of adaptogens which have earned a place in my travel wellness toolkit.
Holy Basil – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5376420/
Liquorice – https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4629407/