Talking travel with jetlag guru Ted Ray (plus anti-jetlag formula giveaway)

For anyone traveling this Fourth of July weekend, Ted Ray is the guy you’ll need when you touch down at that beach resort–with the worst headache in the world. He’s a licensed acupuncturist and herbalist who’s a travel consultant to high-powered Silicon Valley execs, especially on how to get over jet lag. (He’s designed an all-natural concoction to help do the same, which has been featured in the Chicago Tribune, Time Out, and Business 2.0).

Giveaway: Ted’s been nice enough to offer five free bottles of FlyRight to Gadling readers (including shipping). Each bottle is enough for a one-way international flight or roundtrip domestic flight, and valued at $24.95. Go to the bottom of the Q&A for contest details.

What’s the longest flight you’ve been on? How bad was the jetlag? Do you ever get it these days?

I flew to Adelaide, Australia which took around 18 hrs. I may still be jetlagged from that trip. Not sure as it was many years ago. Now, I don’t get jet lag because I actually take the advice I give my patients: I stock up on sleep in the days preceding, drink plenty of water, avoid alcohol, and religiously take my Jet Lag Formula. There is no “magic bullet”, but if you do enough things right, you can arrive feeling pretty good.
What are the top 3 steps people should do to help prevent jetlag?

  • I like to plan international trips to arrive sometime before noon in my destination. I will do everything humanly possible to check into my hotel early or find a location where I can take a short nap (20-30 minutes) so I can function better and stay up until the local bedtime.
  • Drink plenty of water and avoid dehydrating substances like alcohol, soda, and coffee. For those lucky enough to fly in the front of plane, avoid big meals- they’re hard on your digestive system.
  • Take creature comforts- warm comfortable clothing, iPod, DVDs, an eye mask, ear plugs and a comfortable neck pillow (I use mine backwards to keep my head propped up. If you can afford it, get some noise-cancelling headphones. Then you might actually get some sleep on the plane.

Besides your FlyRight concoction, are there other herbal remedies out there that you would recommend, and why?

Umm, no. I’ve searched high and low for a jet lag remedy and have asked my patients who travel frequently what they use. I finally decided to make my own. Of course, there are many single herbs that work well to address various aspects of travel, like rhodiola to support the immune system and calm the mind¸ but jet lag really requires a comprehensive approach.

Explain how FlyRight works? Is this really just the placebo effect at work? What’s the science behind it?

It’s actually pretty straightforward. Look at the various aspects of airline travel and create an herbal formula that addresses each of them. As an example, we include ganoderma (Reishi mushroom) because it supports the immune system of improves energy. Avena (Wild Oats) offsets dehydration and promotes tranquility- ideal for the airplane environment. Ginkgo (Ginkgo leaf) has many well-documented effects including improving mental clarity and offsetting free radical damage to brain cells. Scientific evidence does not exist for all 12 herbs in the formula, but their use is well supported by the tradition of Chinese herbal medicine that I use in my practice

What are some myths about jetlag?

  • Pilots and flight attendants don’t get jet lag–Not true. Sleep researchers have found that constant travelers, including flight crew members, are more accustomed to jet lag’s weariness, but that doesn’t make them immune to it. According to a 1994 survey, more than 90% of New Zealand-based flight attendants suffered from jet lag, saying they felt some combination of fatigue, energy/motivation loss, and sleep problems.
  • Sleeping pills prevent jet lag–While sleeping pills may help you get some shut-eye during the flight they don’t prevent jet lag. And if you want to go the all natural route, check these off your list. Avoiding jet lag requires more than sleep; jet lag symptoms (fatigue, headaches, nausea, anxiety, etc.) have many different contributors-and it takes a multi-faceted approach to deal with them.
  • Jet lag is only caused by time zone travel–While your “body clock” can be disrupted from multi-time zone travel, many factors cause jet lag. From the pressurized, dry-air nature of airplane cabins the cabin environment to the amount of much coffee you drink, jet lag can occur regardless of how many time zones are crossed. Another major factor affecting jet lag is exposure to gamma radiation (from the sun) and electromagnetic radiation (from the plane itself). This radiation damage leads to mental fogginess, headaches, and general fatigue.

How about massages as a jetlag remedy?

Well, I think massages are always a good thing as they help calm the mind, improve circulation, and ease the stiffness caused by airplane travel. If you add acupressure to a massage, you can even help restore the digestive and immune systems more quickly.

I recently came across a study about jetlag, Viagra, and hamsters . What do you make of that?

Kudos to Pfizer. They’re employing a basic tenet of company growth: Sell more products to existing customers or find new markets for existing products. They seem to be doing the latter. But seriously, I think it would be reckless to start prescribing a medication guaranteed to have side effects for the mass traveling public.

Suppose if I’m flying from New York to Beijing. It’s a 12-hr time difference. Am I absolutely screwed?

Yes. I recommend you send me your ticket immediately! Actually, you should be fine. Take my advice above and allow for some unscheduled time to rest (if you need to) on the day you arrive.

For long flights, I usually book myself to get there in the morning, stay awake on the flight, continue staying up through the day once I land, and then I’m usually good. Do you have any advice on scheduling flights and sleep patterns for combating jetlag?

It’s hard to say as everybody is different. Your plan is a good one, but it won’t work for everyone. Some people can sleep on the flight as well and should. I would do my best not to arrive at night, as it’s important to get some light exposure to reset your body clock. Also, do your best to stay awake until the normal bedtime at your destination.

Contest details

  • To enter, simply leave a comment below telling us what you do to fight jetlag.
  • The comment must be left before Friday, July 11 at 5:00 PM Eastern Time.
  • You may enter only once.
  • Five winners will be selected in a random drawing.
  • Five winners will receive a single bottle each of FlyRight, valued at $24.95.
  • Click Here for complete Official Rules.
  • Open to legal residents of the 50 United States, the District of Columbia and Canada (excluding Quebec) who are 18 and older.