Herbal Survival Kit for International Travel


Ganga River Haridwar – Statue of Shiva

As I head towards this journey to the Sacred Land of India, I find it most interesting, as an herbalist, to travel abroad and consider what can I really handle and how much I can trust in myself and the longstanding tradition of Herbal Medicine. In the face of the continual collective undertow of the fear of herbalism and holy dedication to the allopathic paradigm, I consider this trip to India a deep chance at my own Self-Empowerment and Self-Trust.

Among the many travel complaints and concerns; Dysentery, Bronchial issues, Malaria, Dengue fever, Hepatitis A, and B,  a culture that uses no toilet paper, has no septic system, and has little to no running water are the collective group of issues that one must consider while traveling in India. I for one have chosen no vaccinations and will bring a kit and work with herbs (and several other modalities) that are commonly used for these issues; some for thousands of years. Granted dont forget that doctors, homeopaths, and a slew of alternative treatments, yoga, massage, and ayurveda will be available. When making a kit try to keep in mind that all that you pack should have multiple uses. 

Here are a list of tinctures I am bringing:

Sida acuta – Sida is an herb from Africa is one of the best herbs in the world for malaria. Recommended by Stephen Harrod Buhner, I will work with this herb upon going to the forest in Orissa with the hopes and intention of traveling to see and document the Adivasi tribes. The Adivasi – or first people – are indigenous tribes that make up of 50% of the population of Orissa. They have successfully kept their cultures, as well as have fought off several industrial giants trying to extort their land. One example can be seen here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R4tuTFZ3wXQ . My intention when i am there is to make connections and bonds with any village healers, grandmothers, or shaman to learn preparations of jungle medicines and wild foods. We will see what the universe unfolds.

Black Walnut Hull (Juglans nigra) – Black walnut tonifies the digestive tract and has been used for disinfecting water, killing bacteria like giardia and cryptosporidium, the bacteria which cause dysentery. As well as keeping digestion and elimination regular, They also are high in tannin which stops diarrhea.

Boneset (Eupatorium perfoliatum) – Boneset was one of the highest Go-to herbs for Dengue fever and malaria up until the 1940s when quinine was synthesized from the cinchona tree in Bolivia, South America after the Quechua Indigenous people shared their sacred medicine with the west.  It is also very great when your system is run down, and you feel a cold or flu coming on. A dropperful or 2 will kick any bugs out; be they viral, bacterial, or parasitic.

Lomatium (Lomatium dissectum) – According to Stephen Harrod Buhner,  it is “an anti-viral herb used in Epstein B Barr virus, Herpes Simples I and II, Candida albicans and AIDS. Used for colds, flu and respiratory infections” I am bringing a 4 oz of this and will work with it to treat many conditions I could be faced with. Often times in the busy cities people are prone to chest infections in which lomatium is great for.

Essential Oils That I Am Bringing:

Lavender essential oil  Lavender is amazing to calm the mind, it will help me sleep – especially at times when i am too amped up and excited to sleep, a few drops of lavender helps to really mellow me out. Lavender is also a great choice because it is a bug repellent (believe it or not, bugs HATE the smell) plus it is great for disinfecting wounds and helping skin heal. Since i am using Young Living oils i would dilute it to put it directly on a wound.

Young Living Purification blend – I have a spray bottle which i will use purification, a blend of citronella, rosemary, tea tree, malabar grass, citronella grass, and myrtle to spray on some not so tidy surfaces that i want to disinfect, cleanse, and purify. On overnight sleeper trains, certain cheap hotels beds, or bus seats i will spray the area to keep any mineature hitchhikers away from myself and especially my hair. as i travel in this trip i can spray my hair as well with this, spray a head wrap, or spray it on myself to keep mosquitoes away, the first step to avoiding malaria.

Cedar essential oil – This oil is good to inhale for chest  infections, also good to rub on the skin for sore muscles.

Juniper essential oil – Juniper berries have been used in primitive and survival cooking when the foods were “less than fresh”. They have since become an addition to many meats, vegetable ferments, and herbal formulas, as well are the ingredient used in gin. Juniper is good to break up congestion and open the bronchial pathways, cleanse the urinary tract, and disinfect water and the stomach. 

I will make a bug spray using all of the above essential oils in my spray bottle. Not only is it effective, but it smells wonderful and contains no harmful chemicals!

Oil of Oregano  – The antibiotic ability and multi-use capacity makes oil of oregano great. it is wonderful for disinfecting, is really great to break up mucous in the lungs, and very good to keep all bugs out of the stomach. Caution: will burn the skin, esophagus, and stomach lining.

i always recommend diluting pure essential oils, i also recommend getting the best quality oils available such as young living brand. I also in most case recommend being very cautious about ingesting essential oils straight, many are caustic – know what you’re doing.

1 Home Made Salve – I have a 2 oz salve made from oil extracts i have made overtime. The ingredients are calendula, comfrey, st johns wort oils, with beeswax, shea butter, and coconut oil mixed into them. Salves are great to use as a carrier if you want to apply essential oils to your skin. They are also good for chapped skin, and helping heal cuts faster. I definitely recommend keeping some qtips and not applying with your hands if you want it to be sterilized for working with cuts or infections. 

The Glass vs Plastic Question

I have searched considerably for a plastic alternative to glass 2 oz tincture bottles. The market is swamped with plastics but i had trouble finding anything BPA free. BPA is what leeches out (especially with the help of alcohol) and causes several health problems being that it mimics estrogen receptors. Abnormal estrogen causes abnormal growth.

The Obvious downside of bringing glass tinctures is of course breakage during flight. I looked long and wide for the right tincture pouch, i have come up with a Victorinox brand toiletry kit that looked to me padded enough, secure enough, and the dimensions were comparable with a tincture bottle. I plan to wrap this in my wool blanket that i will be traveling with and pray that it makes it fine.


Purslane (Portulacca oleracea)

Herbal Allies from Home – I will seek out purslane (native to India), amaranth, plantain, dandelion, and lambs quarters. These are just a small few of the plants  that grow throughout India just as they do here. This will be some of the most fun adventures as I will get to see who knows and respects them and who works with them for medicine and foods.


Dhanvatari – Vedic Deva of Plant Medicines. Seen here holding Soma – the Nectar of Immortality

And of course if you are pregnant research side effects of any plant you take, and if you dont feel comfortable with your own level of knowledge, or if you are sick, see someone who does. Always get properly trained before you administer yourself, or others, herbs or any product at a pharmacy. This information is not intended to heal anyone.

A Big thank you to Stephen Harrod Buhner of Gaianstudies.org and Jude Millar of Sacred Ground Herbals for helping me decide what will be best. Please post questions, comments, and tips below. 


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About Dan

Dan De Lion is an earth herbalist, forager, musician, and teacher. He teaches through Return to Nature, providing classes, lectures, and seminars on wild food foraging, mushroom identification, herbal medicine making, as well as primitive and survival skills with a focus on wild foods and forest medicines. He also incorporates the philosophies of yoga, alchemy, meditation, and mysticism into his classes, lectures, and seminars and brings a deep rooted indigenous medicine perspective of practicing intuition with plants, in a systematic and earth-based way – Check out more at www.returntonature.us.
This entry was posted in Blog, India - Seeking the Medicine - Botanical Journey, 2012. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Herbal Survival Kit for International Travel

  1. lauren says:

    this is great information, Dan. thank you! i would love to hear your follow up to how this survival kit worked for you while you were there. what did you use what for, or what did you use for something that you didn’t expect to? was there something else you wished you brought while you were already there? etc….

  2. Dan says:

    Just wanted to make a note that I returned fine, had dysentery for a few days, was very grateful to having some raw honey, triphala, oregano oil, turmeric and ginger powder. Took care of it in 3 days. If you are interested in explanation of dosage let me know.

  3. kathleen says:

    Yes please for dosage. Thanks.

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