Why This Celebrity Acupuncturist Swears by Ear Seeds to Combat Jet Lag
Dr. Jill Blakeway shares her travel tips and tricks.
Chakra-balancing, reiki, shamanic rituals and other alternative healing treatments were once considered just that: alternative. But in the past few years, these traditions have gone from being the “woo-woo” preoccupations of the New Age crowd to doctor-recommended therapies for ailments ranging from jet lag to addiction. Hotels have gotten on board, supplementing basic spa menu offerings (think: pedicures and body scrubs) with treatments that aim to enhance one’s physical, emotional, and spiritual wellbeing.
The transformative power of these ancient healing traditions has been the passion of Dr. Jill Blakeway, one of the world’s foremost practitioners of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), for more than 25 years. She’s witnessed, first-hand, the incredible results of “energy medicine” at her nationally acclaimed New York City acupuncture clinic Yinova Center, which she founded with her husband, also a TCM doctor, in 1999. Now Blakeway — who counts celebs like Uma Thurman as clients — is sharing her incredible knowledge and passion for the subject with the release of her third book, Energy Medicine: The Science and Mystery of Healing (Harper Collins), out this month.
Travel + Leisure caught up with the sought-after acupuncturist to learn more about energy medicine and discover how travelers can leverage the phenomenon to travel better.
Travel + Leisure: What is energy medicine?Jill Blakeway: "Energy is the life force referred to as “qi” in TCM but it's basically anything that makes us feel vital and alive. Energy medicine leverages this force to heal and promote wellness. I’m interested in ancient systems of medicine because they recognize what we have lost over time— namely, this idea that there's a relationship between matter and energy in the body."
How can travelers harness energy medicine to travel better?
"The important thing to remember is that our bodies are rhythmic. This is why jet lag is such a big issue. It’s an imbalance that doesn’t just throw off our sleep schedule, but also our digestion, our menstrual cycles, et cetera. The most important thing to do to combat jet lag is to set your watch to the local time in your destination, and to eat at proper meal times — even if it means eating when you’re not hungry. Once you’ve established a digestive rhythm, everything else will fall into place. I’m also a big fan of ear seeds."
What’s an ear seed?
"It’s a small black seed from the Vaccaria plant that can be stuck to the ear to stimulate the pineal gland, a small endocrine gland that primarily synthesizes and secretes melatonin. When applied to the correct spot, the seed can reset your body clock — which is why they’re beloved by my model clients, who are constantly traveling. I even have Swarovski versions for the customer who is feeling fancy."
What else can travelers do to stay healthy on the road?
"On long haul flights, stagnation and blood pooling is a major concern, so it’s important to hydrate and move around. Also, don’t drink alcohol and try to eat lightly — you don’t want to save your big meal for when you’ve arrived at your destination."
Traveling can be stressful. What are your best tips for staying calm during long flights and other vexing moments?
"Mindful breathing is key. In moments of anxiety, try taking six breaths a minute — inhale for five counts, exhale for five counts, and repeat. It’s automatically calming and will immediately change your frame of mind."
Any supplements travelers can take to promote wellbeing?
"I’m a huge fan of adaptogenic tonics. If you’re not familiar, adaptogens are natural substances, derived from plants, that help the body adapt to stress. Ginseng, schisandra, and astragalus are all great to experiment with."
Where do you, the doctor, go to reset?
"I loved my experience at the Insight Meditation Society’s Retreat Center in central Massachusetts. I spent 9 days in silence, getting plenty of sleep and eating right. It was incredibly peaceful."