Saturday, March 2, 2013

My Field Favorites Part II

I have finally gotten to Part II. A reader emailed and mentioned several typos from the last post. I do apologize for them. Living in a rural area of Somalia, my internet is not reliable and trying to upload the posts is a hassle in itself. I had used spell check prior but the blogger spell check auto-corrects itself- to Dutch! Nevertheless, I am adding this on my to do list for when I am on leave. Also, another reader emailed thanking me for including websites on the last post. You are most certainly welcome! Here are some of my final field favs. Enjoy

1) Herbal Tea (loose or bag)
 You really can’t go wrong with tea. Upset stomach: Tea, general wellbeing: tea. You name it: tea. Ideally you should purchase these locally but if you have a favorite or rare type of tea you like then you may want to bring a supply.
For gastro issues: peppermint (also helps with mild headaches) and Hierba Luisa (digestion), ginger (upset stomach), Anise
Calming: Chamomile, lemon grass, tulsi.  Valerian( sleep aid)
Blood pressure, Kidneys/liver:  Hibiscus, cinnamon

I swear by the Immune Tonic by Urban Moonshine. It is made in my home state of Vermont is an herbal supplement and really aids digestion and really does make you feel better. The downside for some is that it contains alcohol. In which case, I recommend Airborne. Even if you are not coming down with a cold this stuff also picks you up giving you a great energy booster. Another really good product, also from Vermont, is the Elderberry Syrup by Honey Gardens. It is a traditional immune formula made with propolis (royal jelly) and is specially formulated for immune support.

I take these two to support the intestinal tract. For those anti-probiotic they are excellent all natural replacements. These are unique to the Americas and even though they are available in Africa and Asia, mostly in ex-pat health food stores in upscale shopping areas, if you are willing to pay twice as much. I buy these in Europe or when I am stateside. They are also available in powder form for tea making.  Slippery elm (native to North America) powder helps to soothe the digestive tract. Cats Claw (Uña de gato), is native to South America and has been used medicinally by indigenous peoples for centuries. According to Wikipedia, the Asháninka tribe of Peru uses the plant as a general health tonic, contraceptive, anti-inflammatory agent for the gastrointestinal tract, and as a treatment for diarrhea, rheumatic disorders, acne, diabetes, cancer and diseases of the urinary tract. It is great to use for intestinal inflammation if you have been ill and is also used against dengue fever traditionally in Brazil.

4) Travel Silks (aka Silk long johns) 
In the field I wear skirts. They are culturally appropriate and easy. While many in the west go bare under their skirts, that is a no no in many cultures.  I opt for cotton leggings or the occasional slip as they are cost effective but some prefer silks. They are more expensive but light and more comfortable. The benefit of silks is that they are both effective in hot or cool weather and they dry faster. See link for item.

5) Travel Yoga Mat 
 I just started working out again after running in my first marathon in 2012. Living in Somalia, running is not an option so I aim for long walks and indoor workout exercise. Working out in the field is very important! I will write another blog post on this. I got this mat over the holidays and let me tell you it is wonderful. No you don’t need a mat but I only have very slippery floors and let me tell you I pulled something the first time I tried to do yoga. It is a little costly but very worth it to just pop a Yoga DVD in the computer and work on my core or practice relaxation! For Gaiam Brand click here. For Manduka brand click here.

6) Cashew Butter 
I love this stuff. It is much better for you than peanut butter. Almond, soy nut butter, and sunflower seed butter are good alternatives. In the field, let’s be honest, sometimes the food becomes mundane. That’s when I opt for a good old sandwich. I get local honey or jam (sometimes syrup) and add cashew butter to make a sandwich. Apparently there are many health benefits of cashew butter like: good fats (omega 3’s), vitamins and minerals, and it is a great source of protein. Peanut butter, mainstream brands, are often full of additives and bad oils. Also some people are allergic to peanuts.

7) Granola
 I always travel with granola. I also like to add dried fruits to it. It’s healthy and gives you energy. Also if you plan ahead you can make it yourself. This way it’s cheaper and get to decide what you want in it based on your tastes. Again you make this locally but if you are in a crunch (excuse the pun) store bought is just as good.

8) Ginger Chews 

Ginger Chews are fantastic! Some people prefer candied ginger to this but to me they are the same. Ginger aids symptoms of nausea and upset stomach. If you add hot water to these chews it makes a great tea when your tummy is not feeling well. Also I find that this gives a pick me up after long flights, when I have a headache/cold/flu, under stress or fatigued.  Pure ginger works as well. My favorite brands are Ginger People and Reeds but there is a generic Chinese brand out there. Check your health food store.  For Ginger People brand Click here. For Reeds brand click here.

9) Incense 

Last but not least. Again you can find this locally but if you have your favorite scent you may want to preorder. Incense helps clear my mind and relax. It is usually paired well with yoga or a good book. In the field, down time is very important. Whatever you do make sure you fit it in.

These are my field favorites. Try to pack yours on your next assignment…you will find that you will be much happier as a result.

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