Previous Next

Being sick sucks. Here’s how to feel better even if you don’t have immediate access to medicine. Photo by: Maria Alejandra Feature photo: Rowshan Dowlatabadi, All Rights Reserved.

Remember these 5 simple but effective remedies if you get stuck somewhere without easy access to medicine.

IT WAS 10:30 PM and the only pharmacy in the village was closed. My husband was suffering from heat exhaustion and couldn’t keep any food or liquid down.

I was beginning to worry we would have to find a way to get him to the nearest city for an IV drip. He called his brother, a pharmacist, who recommended a simple re-hydration drink made from common household ingredients: water, salt, and sugar.

The drink worked. My husband stopped vomiting, and by the next morning felt well enough to go hiking.

This episode reminded me of several other useful natural treatments made from ingredients found in households or the corner market in countries all over the world. Although most of them treat ailments that aren’t as serious as dehydration, they have all made my bouts with illness a bit lighter and my travels that much easier.

1. Emergency Re-hydration

If you are in a cosmopolitan city, you can grab a sports drink, but if you are in a tiny village, or an out of the way place, mix 1 teaspoon of salt and 4 to 5 teaspoons of sugar into 1 Liter of purified water. Use in case of vomiting or diarrhea.

Photo by Rowshan Dowlatabadi,
All Rights Reserved.

2. Honey-Lemon cough syrup or soothing tea

My mother used to give us a cup of hot water mixed with a tablespoon of honey and the juice of 1/2 a lemon when we had coughs and sore throats. A cough syrup can be made by omitting the water.

3. Salt water gargle or sinus cleanser

To treat a sinus infection, mix 1/4 teaspoon of salt with 1/2 cup of water (some people add a little baking soda as well). If you don’t have a dropper, you can just pour it into your nostrils (one at a time) and snort it into the sinuses. It’s not comfortable but it works. Salt water can also be used as a gargle to treat a sore throat.

4. Baking soda (sodium bicarbonate)

Baking soda has many uses. I thought of it recently because I knew it could be used as an antacid (and is often used as an ingredient in commercial antacids). Mix 1/2 teaspoon with 1/2 glass of water.

You can find baking soda in the baking section of markets, often in little single serving packages under names like karbonat or biocarbinato.

You can also look for the chemical formula, NaHCO3.

It is worth keeping some on hand since mixed with water into a paste it can relieve insect bites or bee stings (remove stinger first), or be used as toothpaste in a bind. Pregnant women should not drink baking soda and water.

5. Mint tea

So far I seem to have encountered some form of mint in most of the countries I’ve been to. Boil a handful of leaves in hot water (or use the dried herb). This is a great treatment for an upset stomach as well as a refreshing drink.

All of the above treat fairly mild ailments. Should the problem continue or worsen, one should seek medical attention.

Sometimes, your illness just requires rest, often a difficult thing to achieve as one races from activity to activity and place to place. Remember, rest a day now and recover sooner rather than delay and spend a week in a hospital.

Travel Safety


About The Author

Tamia Dowlatabadi

Tamia Dowlatabadiis currently traveling around the world. She has written for Boots 'N All, and Transitions Abroad. Her blogs include: The Little Black Fish: Off to See the World and Istanbul Diary.

More By This Author

view all →
  • Linda

    Yes! Regarding #1 – Even in rural places in developing nations, you can probably buy a packet of ORS (oral rehydration salts), which is basically the same thing as the salt and sugar combo. I could get it at the clinic in my village, and we didn’t even have electricity there. It’s not very tasty (neither is the homemade stuff, although adding lemon or lime helps a little), but knowing it’s good for you and will make you feel better should help the medicine go down. i swear by the stuff.

    On that note, Gatorade does the same and tastes good, so…

    Something my mom does and I’ve tried with success (though I usually skip it and just get sick): when you feel a cold coming on, sleep with small pieces of garlic (cut off from a clove) wrapped in gauze (or Kleenex) in your ears. I know, totally weird, but it’s worked for me if I do it early enough.

    • aelle

      I confirm, garlic is a known antibacterial/antifungal plant. It also works in other places than your ears… for yeast infections.

  • MyOtcWorld

    good article visit to buy otc products and otc medicines at cheap price.

Understanding the mindset of a thief may be the single best way to avoid getting...
People greeted me with a hearty “welcome to Egypt!” or “you are welcome!”
Insure your possessions against theft, loss, or damage.
The national parks are bracing themselves for the busiest summer in the history of the...
It is not flattery or romance, but rather a male power trip with serious consequences.
Modern Gonzo and Matador "Breaking Free" host Robin Esrock shares 10 tips for...
Having a plan is key to ensuring your well-being while traveling abroad.
Matador's travel suggestions for those concerned about the ongoing violence in Mexico.
One traveler's reflections on the occasion of Transgender Awareness Week.
“How can you expect me to use your service again?” I said between sobs.