Jet lag is an all too familiar phenomenon for many of the executives that we work with at Tignum. The feeling of fatigue, nausea or just a generalized malaise can linger long after a trip and sometimes worse than others. It seems we come to accept it as the “ biological price “ of doing business in the modern world. In medicine, it’s called “desynchronosis” - a physiological condition in which the body is out of sync with a new time zone. It’s a disruption of the rhythmic biological cycles recurring at approximately 24-hour intervals, called the circadian system.
Recently, research conducted in Germany uncovered new information about jet lag shedding “light” on how to treat and possibly prevent jet lag. Scientists at the Max Planck Institute of Biophysical Chemistry in Germany have identified that it’s not just one clock in the body that is out of whack in the new time-zone. but actually every organ has its own separate clock. Even more interesting is that each individual organ adapts to a new time zone at a different speed.
It turns out that each organ has a gene known as the CLOCK (circadian locomotor output cycles kaput) gene. This gene regulates the organs’ internal clock and is responsible for the speed at which the organ adapts to a new time zone. Interestingly, the pancreas, which regulates the body’s production of energy, seems to resist time change much longer other organs such as the kidneys. When the molecular clocks of different organs are significantly out of sync, bodily functions that require chemical communication can be disrupted. This could explain the diverse symptoms of jet lag, including insomnia to depression to gastrointestinal problems. One of the fastest adapting organs is the adrenal glands, which are thought to work with the brain to provide a master clock to synchronize all of body’s clocks on a daily basis. Understanding these individual organ clocks, Eichele and his team believe that they will find new ways to approach treating and preventing jet lag.
At the University of Manchester, in the UK, Scientists are conducting research into newly “identified” brain cell types that play a role in the synchronization and regulation of the body clocks. Professor Hugh Piggins reported to the BBC World Service that unlocking how bodily clock(s) malfunction could not only help resolve jet lag but it also help eradicate a host of other conditions.
Nutritional medicine experts and pharmaceutical researchers are currently working to find specific substances to reset “organ” clocks , especially the adrenal gland clock. As the researchers discovered, the adrenal clock plays a key role in the body’s adaptation to a new circadian rhythm. Understanding these insights will undoubtably produce an entirely new approach to the treatment of jet lag.
When you look at how many of the Tignum Mindset, Nutrition, Movement, and Recovery strategies influence various organs, I hope that scientists will also take an integrated approach in the development of new treatment protocols. I am convinced that the best answers will lie in finding simple strategies done in Mindset, Nutrition, Movement, and Recovery to impact the body’s “many” clocks and jet lag.
Many of our clients may not have seen this new research but have figured out through experimentation and self-awareness a variety of strategies to reduce jet lag symptoms and remain a high performer in any time zone. I would love to hear your thoughts and what jet lag strategies have worked best for you.
By Patti Milligan
Director of Nutrition