Surviving the Trials of the Tropics Naturally
For any of those adventurous souls who have embarked on a travel journey, or perhaps a bold move to the warm, lush tropical lands of Central or South America - you will do yourself a favour to know how to keep yourself well as you explore, or perhaps settle in, to the new landscape.
The tropics tend to be humid, lush, and thriving with life. Insects, bacteria, fungi, and a plethora of flora and fauna call these warm havens home.
For people arriving from foreign countries, boosting their immune systems and taking some precautions is a an act of wisdom. Some simple natural health care tips can help you avoid infections, belly aches, and other discomforts that take can turn into a definite drag.
First tip is to be sure the source of your water is safe and potable. Any questionable water should be avoided to keep yourself from possible contamination of pathogens and illness-creating bacteria or parasites. Bottled, filtered, or boiled water is recommended if the water provided is questionable. Staying hydrated is important in the tropics to avoid exhaustion, dehydration, and overheating. Drink at least one cup of pure water each hour during the sunlight hours.
In addition to clean water, ginger tea is a handy remedy to have available. Ginger helps kill certain unwanted pathogens in the digestive tract, increase circulation, improve digestion, and ease upset tummy's. If you are experiencing bloating, gas, nausea, constipation, or mild stomach pains, a few cups ginger tea can be helpful.
When the heat gets high and your temperature is rising you will do your body right to duck out of the sun and seek some shade. While taking a break to cool down, a few cups of chilled lemongrass tea can help cool your body to a more comfortable temperature. Lemongrass is often called Fevergrass in certain parts of the tropics because it has the ability to act as a coolant and reduce the heat in the body. Add a little lemon or lime juice for extra cooling benefits.
Because of the plethora of living bacteria, fungi, and other miniscule life forms in the tropics, skin infections are common amongst visitors and new arrivals. A simple scrape of the skin, a bug bite, or small abrasion can be the entry point for the foreign bacteria to gain a way in. These uninvited invaders have a way of creating havoc and testing the immune systems of “virgin blood”. If you discover sore spots that look like pimples, red painful skin around a bite or cut, accompanied by fever, low energy, or sick feeling then extra care is needed to flush out any infection and gain back your strength of health. Diet is important, as many unwanted bacteria, parasites, and fungi will “feed” on sugars. Keeping all refined sugar, fruit juices, alcohol, and refined starches out of your diet is key. This means no soda, cookies, cakes, pastries, pasta, breads, crackers, alcoholic beverages, fruit juices, candy, and so on. Focus on eating fresh fruits and vegetables, whole grains, some beans and legumes, and light, healthy meals. Avoid dairy, fried foods, processed foods, and anything artificial. In addition to simplifying the diet, herbal support can be added to eliminate infections and threats to the immune system.
Oil of Oregano is one of my favourite travel companions. Oil of Oregano helps kill parasites, protozoa, unwanted bacteria, and fungi. Several drops in water, taken three times a day at the first sign of illness or immune threat, is recommended. Another great travel buddy is Grapefruit Seed Extract (GSE). GSE is another great ally against parasites and other nasty invaders. Thankfully this bitter medicine can now be found in easy to swallow tablets. Follow directions on product label.
Most bitter herbs assist in detoxifying the liver, killing unwanted pathogens, cooling the body, and improving digestion. Each country is home to several healing bitter herbs. These herbs can be part of your first line of defence when threatened with infections, parasites, or other illness. Here in Costa Rica, my favourite bitter herbs to incorporate into healing regimes are Gavilana (aka Jack Ass Bitters), Sorosi (aka Bitter Melon), and Hombre Grande. All three of these herbs can be utilized to kill parasites, lice, staph infections, stomach and digestive disorders, liver ailments, fevers, colds, influenza, and more. Many local residents will know where to harvest these bitter herbs. If local support is not an option check at a local herb store or “macrobiótica”. Several cups of bitter herb tea daily is a good dose for fighting off illness and restoring health.
Keep wounds clean and well cared for. Clean wounds and infections with Apple Cider Vinegar or salt water. Apply healing helpers such as Dragons Blood tincture, Aloe Vera, Turmeric paste, or liquid Grapefruit Seed Extract can be of extra benefit. Each of these topical assistants have the ability to destroy unwanted pathogens and bacteria, as well as aid in the speed of wound healing and skin renewal.
Since our gut is the place where most of our immunity is produced and developed, it is wise to follow a healthy diet, and supplement that diet with probiotic-rich foods that promote intestinal health. Organic whole foods meals, rich in fresh fruits and vegetables, accompanied by probiotic foods such as fresh sauerkraut, kimchi, coconut yogurt, kéfir, and lacto-fermented vegetables are all beneficial for supporting supreme health. While travelling opt for dining venues featuring fresh, healthy meals. Find the local farmers markets or health food stores to stock up on ferments and probiotic foods. The healthier your gut is the more likely you are to avoid some of the common health drains encountered while travelling or living in the tropics.
These are just basic ideas and remedies for simple healthy living and treatment of simple maladies. If you find yourself with a serious health issue such as a deep set infection, parasite invasion, or other form of extreme health crisis – be sure to seek professional help. You may choose a natural route of healing, yet having a diagnosis first is wise. Seek only professional assistance- whether that be allopathic medicine or natural, holistic healing.
Remember that prevention is the first step to wellness. Eat healthy, drink only clean and pure water, stay hydrated, include health-enhancing foods to your diet, and look to herbal support when needing some extra immune support. Keep your immune system strong by avoiding alcohol, refined sugars, pharmaceuticals, artificial and “junk” foods, and other health-zapping foods, drugs, and drinks.
Live well and be well, enjoy life to the fullest, and laugh often!
Added 20th February 2017
Love this! Such great information from a wise woman. Thank you very much for the offering.