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Good News about Jet Lag

I flew from Vancouver, Canada to Brisbane, Australia via Singapore in December of 2004. This was a 36 hour event—28 hours of flying and 8 hours of waiting in airports—which should have laid me low with jet lag symptoms.

Jet lag symptoms are mainly attributed to passing through different time zones which disrupts circadian rhythms (biological activities occurring in 24-hours periods or cycles). This is worsened by air pressure changes, stale air, dehydration worsened by alcohol and coffee, lack of exercise, nervousness and apprehension and, sometimes, exposure to pesticides.

Flight attendants reported these symptoms of jet lag in a recent survey: 94% reported lack of energy and motivation; 93% complained of disrupted sleep patterns; 90% reported fatigue for five days afterwards; 73% complained of dehydration; 70% had ear, nose and throat problems including colds and flu; 53% experienced disorientation; and 32% had swollen limbs.

When I arrived in Brisbane I was a little spacey after 36 hours without any real sleep. However, after a good night’s rest, I felt no lingering effects from the trip. When reversing the trip back to Vancouver, I might have expected to experience more jet lag symptoms as I would have been flying against the rotation of the earth and therefore going through time zones faster. However, again after one night’s sleep, most of the symptoms disappeared, though I did experience slight drowsiness several times during the days following my trip.

I can give credit to the reduction of jet lag symptoms to a homeopathic product I took during the flight both ways. It consists of five basic remedies:

• Arnica montana for physical and mental strain

• Bellis perenis for muscular soreness, congestion of veins and sleep disturbance

• Chamomile to relax and soothe

• Ipecacuanha to alleviate dehydration and nausea

• Lycopodium to relieve apprehension and anxiety.

While many still consider health improvements attributed to homeopathics as placebo effects, this combination of particular homeopathic remedies I took was tested in a blind study by Professor K. Kumar of the College of Pharmacology at Howard University in Washington, D.C. The study involved nineteen skiers flying from New Zealand to Europe. Those who took the homeopathic formula had significantly fewer symptoms of jet lag compared to those who took the placebo. This is good news for long-distance airline travellers!

Dr. John Matsen