Essential Oils To Help With Jet Lag

Hurrah, you’re off on holiday! Isn’t it a great feeling when you’ve researched, planned and finally booked a much-needed vacation? The only downside is when you start to factor in the effects of jet lag. You arrive at your dream destination too exhausted to do anything, and this can last for days! Jet lag forces your body into a completely different eating / waking / sleeping cycle that can take much of the joy out of a travel adventure. Often it seems you finally start adjusting to the current time zone before you have to go home, and then you have to go through the experience all over again. It’s almost enough to put you off travel for good!


Photo credit: Javier Sánchez Salcedo @ flickr

The more time zones you cross, the more your body’s natural waking and sleeping rhythms are disrupted. What many people don’t realise is that jet lag can also take a toll on your digestive system. Just like with sleep, your body is also used to certain eating cycles. When you’re in a different time zone you may find you’re absolutely ravenous at 2:00 AM and not hungry at all at your usual dinnertime. In sensitive people this can lead to digestive upsets such as heartburn, constipation and diarrhea. You may also experience headaches, vision disturbances, nausea, lowered immunity and heart palpitations as well as mood swings. Hmm…I’m sure none of this was mentioned in the travel guide?

Fortunately there is help. Aromatherapy is a natural, holistic treatment that uses the power of plant-based extracts to bring your body back into balance. Now the first line of defense when it comes to jet lag is making sure you are protected from the start. How many times have you been on a flight and within 24-hours of landing you’ve developed a full-blown cold? This is due to the nasty, recycled air we are all forced to breathe on the plane. My top tip is adding 5-6 drops of lavender essential oil onto a tissue. I wrap it up in a Ziploc bag and keep it in my carry on. Once I’m in the plane I take an occasional sniff of the tissue, which not only gives my immune system a boost but it also helps me get some shut-eye too! Lavender is soothing, relaxing and a lovely sedative oil, so even in those cramped economy seats I am able to get some rest. There are several companies that manufacture personal Aromatherapy inhalers as well, but the tissue has never let me down yet.


Once you’ve landed and made your way to the hotel, it’s time for an aromatic bath. Of course the oils you choose will depend on what time you have arrived. If it’s the evening then it’s important to use calming, sleep-inducing essential oils such as clary sage, lavender, chamomile, sweet orange, majoram, neroli, ylang ylang, frankincense and rose. Bergamot is also a very relaxing oil but it does increase the photosensitivity of your skin, so if you’re in sunnier climes then it’s best to opt for other oils. A lovely mix is 2-drops lavender, 2-drops sweet orange and 3-drops frankincense in 1 ½ Tablespoons of carrier oil such as sweet almond. If you don’t have any carrier oil you can also use semi-skimmed or full fat milk to help disperse the essential oils.

If you have landed in the morning or early afternoon, you’ll want to use more energetic and stimulating oils such as eucalyptus, rosemary, geranium, peppermint, black pepper, basil, grapefruit and lemongrass. Once again beware that citrus oils such as grapefruit and lemongrass are also photosensitizing, and grapefruit should never be used by anyone on high blood pressure medication. However they can be used in an aromatherapy inhaler or a few drops added to a tissue to give your system a lift every time you inhale the scent. A refreshing bath that always gets me fired up and ready to explore is 2-drops rosemary, 2-drops geranium and 1-drop peppermint in 2-Tablespoons of carrier oil.

All of these essential oils are beneficial to the mind, body and spirit. Using them while on holiday can help you make the most of your time off! They will support your immune system, help you sleep, keep you alert and focused and encourage positive digestion. Next time you plan a holiday don’t forget to take along some essential oils!