How to Get Over Jet Lag with Acupuncture and Natural Remedies
Published | 7 min read
Crossing time zones brings the excitement of travel and the dread of jet lag. Here are some ways to beat your travel blues.
What is Jet Lag and What are the Symptoms?
Your internal clock is guided by complex workings within your body. It also takes cues from the external environment, such as how much and when light enters your eyes. It will then send a message to your brain to decrease melatonin, the hormone that helps you fall and stay asleep. Health experts and researchers agree that flying eastward generally causes more severe jet lag symptoms as it is harder for your body to go to sleep earlier than to stay up later.
Jet lag symptoms include one or more of the following:
- Extreme tiredness or fatigue
- Severe drowsiness and falling asleep during the day
- Poor concentration
- Digestive problems such as poor appetite, constipation, or diarrhoea
- Irritability or unable to enjoy what you’re doing
- Generally feeling out of sorts
How to Beat Jet Lag
The good news is that while there is technically no cure, jet lag eventually resolves itself without medical treatment. However, you can do things to shorten the time it takes for your body to synchronise so that you fall back into your natural circadian rhythm.
Start phase-shifting before travel
Research published in the
Prioritise quality sleep
Make sure to prioritise quality sleep before, during, and after your travel time. Sleep is when your body rests and renews, so don’t skimp just because you’re travelling. And yes, this means not watching too many in-demand movies on the flight’s entertainment system and making sure you get some good shuteye.
Staying hydrated ensures your body
Avoid heavy meals or new foods
Your digestive system doesn’t need the extra burden when having to adjust to a new time zone. You’ll reduce some jet lag symptoms such as an upset stomach, poor
As much as possible, try to have adequate movement and exercise while travelling because it will help you sleep better. Walk up and down the cabin aisle to keep your circulation going optimally. You can even do
Get some sun when it’s daytime, and sleep when it’s night at your destination
Once you’ve arrived at your destination, try to be outside when it’s daytime, even when you’re tired. If there is a nearby park, have a gentle walk or sit on the grass there. Even sitting out on your hotel balcony would help your body acclimate to the new location. As much as you can, try to sleep at your usual bedtime. You may consider a melatonin supplement to help you fall asleep but speak with your doctor first about potential
Treating Jet Lag Symptoms with TCM
According to Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) Physician Anita Pee, “jet lag in TCM is understood as the body’s activities not being in sync with the rising and falling of the sun, in other words, the natural yin and yang rhythm of the day”. As TCM is primarily concerned with restoring qi and balance, it offers many ways to help beat jet lag, such as acupuncture and herbs. TCM foods like the traditional essence of chicken are good to help your body heal.
Acupressure massage for jet lag
Physician Pee shares some acupoints that can help to relieve jet lag symptoms:
- Fatigue and poor concentration – Bai hui (GV20, 百会) and
yin tang(EX-HN3, 印堂)
- Insomnia – Nei guan (P6, 内关) and shen men (HT7, 神门)
- Headaches, neck pain, and insomnia – Feng chi (GB20, 风池) and
an mian (EX-HN16,安眠)
- Gastrointestinal discomfort – Zu san li (ST36, 足三里）
Herbal remedies for jet lag
Herbs are another TCM modality to consider. A meta-analysis published in the journal titled Frontiers in Pharmacology demonstrated that jujube seeds (suan zao ren, 酸枣仁) works better than the placebo and is comparable to
- Insomnia – Jujube seeds, arborvitae seed (bo zi ren, 柏子仁) or herbal formula Tian Wang Bu Xin Dan (天王补心丹)
- Fatigue – Astragalus (huang qi, 黄芪) and atracylodes (bai zhu, 白术)
- Dehydration or dryness of skin, nose, throat – Ghlenia root (sha shen, 沙参), ophiogon tuber, (mai dong, 麦冬), and Solomon’s Seal Rhizome (yu zhu, 玉竹)
- Gastrointestinal discomfort such as poor appetite and diarrhoea – Bao He Wan (保和丸) and Huo Xiang Zheng Qi Wan (藿香正气丸)
Jet lag is
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