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Jet Lag (Holistic)

About This Condition

Traveling across time zones can trigger jet lag, a common condition that usually goes away within several days. According to research or other evidence, the following self-care steps may be helpful.
  • Rest easy with melatonin

    Improve sleep quality and avoid daytime drowsiness by taking 0.5 mg of this natural hormone at bedtime for four days after arriving at your destination

  • Take time to adjust

    Give your body a chance to adapt to a new time zone by relaxing and limiting your activity for the first day or two

About

About This Condition

Jet lag is a disturbance of the sleep-wake cycle triggered by travel across time zones.

Symptoms

Jet lag causes a combination of symptoms, including daytime sleepiness, disorientation, poor concentration, fatigue, gastrointestinal discomfort, headaches, difficulty falling asleep, and frequent waking from sleep. The symptoms can last from a day to a week or longer, depending on the person and the number of time zones crossed.

Supplements

What Are Star Ratings?

Our proprietary “Star-Rating” system was developed to help you easily understand the amount of scientific support behind each supplement in relation to a specific health condition. While there is no way to predict whether a vitamin, mineral, or herb will successfully treat or prevent associated health conditions, our unique ratings tell you how well these supplements are understood by the medical community, and whether studies have found them to be effective for other people.

For over a decade, our team has combed through thousands of research articles published in reputable journals. To help you make educated decisions, and to better understand controversial or confusing supplements, our medical experts have digested the science into these three easy-to-follow ratings. We hope this provides you with a helpful resource to make informed decisions towards your health and well-being.

3 Stars Reliable and relatively consistent scientific data showing a substantial health benefit.

2 Stars Contradictory, insufficient, or preliminary studies suggesting a health benefit or minimal health benefit.

1 Star For an herb, supported by traditional use but minimal or no scientific evidence. For a supplement, little scientific support.

Supplement Why
2 Stars
Melatonin
Take under medical supervision: 0.5 mg daily at bedtime for four days after arriving at your destination
Taking melatonin at bedtime may improve sleep quality and daytime alertness.

Melatonin is a natural hormone that regulates the human biological clock and may be helpful in relieving symptoms of jet lag, according to some,1 , 2 though not all,3 , 4 double-blind studies. One double-blind trial, involving international flight crew members, found that melatonin supplementation was helpful when started after arriving at the destination but not when started three days before leaving.5 Another double-blind study compared various amounts and forms of melatonin taken at bedtime for four days after the flight by people who traveled through six to eight time zones.6 Fast-release melatonin supplements were found to be more effective than the controlled-release supplements. A 5 mg and 0.5 mg fast-release melatonin were almost equally effective for improving sleep quality, time it took to fall asleep, and daytime sleepiness.

2 Stars
Pycnogenol
150 mg per day for seven days, beginning two days before travel
In controlled studies, Pycnogenol taken for two days before and five days after air travel led to milder symptoms that lasted for a shorter period of time, compared with untreated control groups.  
In controlled studies, 150 mg of Pycnogenol was taken for two days before and five days after air travel.7 Jet lag symptoms were milder and lasted for a shorter period of time compared with untreated control groups.

References

1. Petrie K, Conaglen JV, Thompson L, Chamberlain K. Effect of melatonin on jet lag after long haul flights. BMJ 1989;298:705–7.

2. Claustrat B, Brun J, David M, et al. Melatonin and jet lag: confirmatory result using a simplified protocol. Biol Psychiatry 1992;32:705–11.

3. Edwards BJ, Atkinson G, Waterhouse J, et al. Use of melatonin in recovery from jet-lag following an eastward flight across 10 time-zones. Ergonomics 2000;43:1501–13.

4. Spitzer RL, Terman M, Williams JB, et al. Jet lag: clinical features, validation of a new syndrome-specific scale, and lack of response to melatonin in a randomized, double-blind trial. Am J Psychiatry 1999;156:1392–6.

5. Petrie K, Dawson AG, Thompson L, et al. A double-blind trial of melatonin as a treatment for jet lag in international cabin crew. Bio Psych 1993;33(7):526–30.

6. Suhner A, Schlagenhauf P, Johnson R, et al. Comparative study to determine the optimal melatonin dosage form for the alleviation of jet lag. Chronobiol Int 1998;15:655–66.

7. Belcaro G, Cesarone MR, Steigerwalt RJ, et al. Jet-lag: prevention with Pycnogenol. Preliminary report: evaluation in healthy individuals and in hypertensive patients. Minerva Cardioangiol 2008;56(5 Suppl):3-9.

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