Monday, March 07, 2016

The Hiker Medicine Chest

So what do you carry on a backpacking trip with regards to supplements and other medicines? I’ve touched on this briefly in my blog on first aid, but I wanted to add in a few extra ideas that I found helpful on hikes.


Drink Water!

While it would be nice to get all our nutrition naturally from what we eat, as backpackers it’s rare we can do so. Additional supplements helps the body recover quicker from the damage caused by hiking and provide more energy and less issues with health. Herbs can also help with inflammation and pain. Do not underestimate water consumption. Water is your best defense against achy joints.

These are supplements worth taking (some will be different with men and women)

A Multi Vitamin- some prefer to carry a chewable kind, but if you do, they usually have sugar on them. All vitamins should be hung then in your bear bag. I take just the plain pill form. Women, make sure yours contains adequate iron.

Turmeric for Inflammation
Joint supplement – this can vary, but to help with joints and knees especially, glucosamine sulfate, at least 500 mg and up to 1000 mg a day works well. So does Eggshell membrane that contains MSM and chondroitin.

For Inflammation – I carry Turmeric in pill form. Also Boswellia Serrata. Ginger has also been used for anti-inflammatory issues as well as the chief component in Cayenne pepper, capsaicin. Green Tea helps fight pain, which you can bring in pill form or as teas to drink.

For women, I highly recommend carrying calcium carbonate, extra Vitamin D 3 (helps absorb the calcium), and cranberry tablets to control urinary tract issues

Other Medications

Sometimes other pain relievers are needed. If you don’t have ulcer issues, you can bring some of the standard Vitamin I – commonly known as Advil, to help with inflammation and pain. I usually try to control pan with plain Tylenol though and use the other herbal supplements to help with inflammation. Do not plan to bring other kinds of narcotic pain relievers with you. If you feel the need for a narcotic, then the pain you are having is NOT normal and you should get off the trail and to a doctor.

Doxycycline – 200 mg of this, taken when you first discover a deer tick bite, can help against the development of Lyme disease. Talk to your doctor about having this prescription in your first aid kit. And carry a tick key too for tick removal. Use permethrin to treat your clothing, shoes and socks (do not apply to your skin!).

Stomach Aids – I do not recommend any kind of stomach aids for diarrhea such as lomotil. Diarrhea is the mechanism the body uses to flush out harmful bacteria and viruses. If you are experiencing constant diarrhea for a week or two that does not go away, you may have contracted the water borne illness giardia, and then, you need a prescription antibiotic to cure it. If you suddenly develop an onset of the runs and vomiting, you may have contracted norovirus. No stomach aid can help with this, but only time as it is a virus. Be sure when you are able, drink electrolyte solutions (such as Gatorade) to replace the fluids lost. Coconut water, if available, is helpful also. Try also broths and bananas. Carry with you a good hand sanitizer such as Purell with at least 70% alcohol content, and use it freely to help prevent contamination.

If you plan to be on the trail long term and are on prescription medication, use mail drops to mail the meds to your stops. Having a reliable person at home to help send them to you is a good idea. You can also get a vacation refill from your pharmacy so some drops can be made up ahead of time. Drops can be sent to a host of locations such as outfitters, hostels, motels etc besides just post offices. Check recent guidebooks for where to mail them. And always send your parcels Priority Mail.

 Related Blog

Sickness on the Trail - what to do, prevention

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