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Air travel has made it possible to get to a faraway destination in a matter of hours. For those of us with serious wanderlust that’s mostly a plus, but it also means eventually dealing with a case of jet lag.
Sure, you can get to Europe in less than seven hours from the East Coast, but you may spend multiple days adjusting to the time zone change upon arrival. (And then experience jet lag when you return home, too.)
So it’s really no surprise that spas and hotels across the globe have been developing treatments designed to help travelers combat the fatigue, malaise, insomnia and even digestive problems associated with jet lag.
One of the most popular treatments to emerge in recent years is cryotherapy (where you basically stand in a chamber cooled between -160 and -300 degrees Fahrenheit for about three minutes). The process is supposed to improve your sleep, reduce stress and jolt you out of your jet lag haze. And it seems to be working. Dedicated cryotherapy centers have cropped up across the country and celebrities including Mandy Moore, Derek Hough and Jessica Alba have all tried it. Many swear that being frozen is more or less a cure-all.
But that’s not the only trendy treatment being touted for its jet lag-curing benefits. From salt water to IV drips, there are a number of other boutique therapies and detoxes promising to rid you of your jet lag woes by combatting exhaustion, balancing your system and detoxing, restoring or otherwise resetting the body.
To help you sort through the sometimes clinical, sometimes downright peculiar procedures for beating jet lag, we spoke with a New York-based doctor about which treatments could provide measurable benefits.
It sounds like you’d need a master’s degree in philosophy to try this treatment, but it’s actually pretty simple. Thalassotherapy is based on the principle of using sea water at different temperatures and saline densities to detox and regulate the body.
Such treatments can be found at Forte Village Resort’s Acquaforte Thalasso & Spa in Italy, which is ideally positioned near the Mediterranean. The course features six pure Sardinian seawater pools, each touting their unique benefits. The first three pools — high temperatures and high saline concentration — are said to have a detoxifying effect. The final three pools — lower temperatures and lower saline concentration — round off the regenerating process, “stabilizing the exchanges between the body and the mineral salts.”
Bottom line: According to Dr. Frank Contacessa, a board-certified internist practicing in Westchester, New York, the use of sea water or sea products falls into the category of safe, but unproven, treatments. “A nice, relaxing soak in warm sea water will feel good, but likely will not treat any medical conditions,” he said. “There is little to no scientific evidence in favor of this type of therapy.”
Sticking a needle in your arm might sound like the last thing you want to do after sitting in a cramped airplane for multiple hours. But IV treatments of vitamin infusions administered by a professional nurse can help with a whole host of travel-related ailments — and fast.
The Well & Being Spa at the Fairmont Scottsdale Princess, for example, just launched RevIV, a medical-grade program that offers guests nutrient-rich IV infusions — Hydromax for hydration and detoxification, and Vitaglow to rejuvenate the skin — in a luxury spa setting.
The reason for the IV? You absorb 100% of the infusion: double the impact of drinking energy drinks or taking oral vitamins. The benefits (favored by athletes, actors and even A-list models) last for multiple days, so guests can enjoy their getaway at full capacity.
Bottom line: Be sure to find out precisely which vitamins and minerals you’re getting with an infusion, and at what quantity. “The thinking is that you can’t overdose on vitamins because you will just get rid of any excess in the urine,” Contacessa said.
“While this is true for the water-soluble vitamins (B vitamins and vitamin C, for example), too much vitamin C can cause kidney stones. Also, the fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E and vitamin K) can build up in fat tissue and become potentially toxic.”
Something as simple as light may offer a host of benefits to frequent flyers. In terms of jet lag, studies have shown that bright light can be used to realign circadian rhythms.
And according to some, LED light therapies — specifically those that utilize a combination of blue and red lights — can help battle bacteria (useful after a long flight with a coughing seat mate).
Try it out in an LED light bed at the Joanna Vargas Spa on 5th Avenue in New York City (book a 20 minute “Power Nap” with infrared light), or as an LED Light Therapy skin care enhancement at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas spa.
Travelers can also head to Shape House (locations in New York and California) for a 55-minute infrared sauna wrap experience, where your core body temperature increases, causing you to sweat out toxins, pathogens and heavy metals you accumulated during travel.
Another option? Just pack a portable light therapy box in your suitcase.
Bottom line: Here, there is actually evidence to back up the claims, according to Contacessa. “LED and laser therapy can be used to treat some forms of acne,” he said by way of example. “And there does not seem to be any major downside, other than the need for multiple and ongoing sessions, and the potentially high cost.”
Charcoal (which has long been used in both household water filters and in the emergency room) is now making its way into our vitamin regimen, lemonade, breakfast pastries — charcoal-activated vegan croissants, anyone? — and even our shampoo. But why?
The reason behind the boom is that charcoal supposedly draws bacteria, chemicals, dirt and other micro-particles to the surface of the skin. When ingested, toxins bind to the charcoal, helping your body to expel them. With these applications, it can detox the system.
So, as you can imagine, activated charcoal has popped up in spa treatments designed for jetsetters as well. At Nautilus South Beach, a SIXTY Hotel in Miami, for example, they offer a deep-cleansing facial (called The Flawless) with activated charcoal that works to absorb impurities.
The Spa at the Miami Beach EDITION is also adding a charcoal eye mask as part of their Power Nap experience (a microcurrent technology service meant to replicate four hours of sleep). The charcoal mask is thought to relieve eye fatigue by reducing tension and pressure around the eyes. At the very least, we suppose, you will look more awake.
Bottom line: While Contacessa agrees charcoal can absorb toxins when used in the emergency room to treat overdoses and poisonings, casual use for “detox” purposes has not been proven.
Magnesium Salt Scrub
Let’s get the whole periodic table involved in jet lag cures, shall we? Magnesium is supposed to act as a muscle relaxing sleep aid, thought to help the body recover from disturbed sleep-wake patterns — a common problem when crossing time zones.
Time zone changes can be particularly brutal when traveling to Australia, which is why The
at QT Sydney offers a 2.5 hour-long jet lag recovery treatment called the Weekend Warrior. Combining a sea salt body scrub, massage and custom facial using green tea, sea kelp and magnesium-rich salts, the whole process is designed to detoxify, boost circulation, calm the nervous system and fight fatigue — all necessary remedies after sitting on a plane for a full day.
Stateside, travelers can try the Magnesium Ritual at the Montage Beverly Hills spa. The treatment is supposed to “promote normal energy levels,” improve sleep and even adjust the metabolism. The magnesium-rich spa session includes a dry brush exfoliation, massage and mineral soak in a hydro tub.
Bottom line: In this case, according to Contacessa, there is legitimate evidence that we can absorb some magnesium through the skin. “Go ahead and scrub or soak in Epsom salts,” he said. “Just don’t expect miracles.”
This might be the most hotly contested treatment on the list regarding actual benefits. But, according to some alternative medicine experts, different crystals can have healing effects on the body when used correctly. Hematite, for example, can help you feel grounded and counteract fatigue. And amethyst may relieve headaches.
That’s why the Four Seasons Downtown in New York added a crystal elixir to their new Air Beautiful treatment. Along with meridian stretching, acupressure, aromatherapy and a massage, crystals are used to complete each session.
The stones are energized, cleansed, placed in purified water and blended with organic essential oils containing strong anti-bacterial and anti-viral properties. After being strategically placed on the body, you are supposed to feel nourished, hydrated, relaxed and ready to embrace a full day of either sightseeing or returning to your normal schedule.
Bottom line: Contacessa told The Points Guy that he is unaware of any expert who practices evidence-based medicine that recommends the use of crystals for the treatment of any medical condition. That being said, he has no problem with a patient who wants to use alternative medicine as an adjunct to evidence-based medicine.
“If you believe in the power of crystals,” he said, “Feel free to use them. Just remember to also consult with your primary care doctor as well.”
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