The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has released its biennial revision of “the yellow book,” a health guide for international travel.

It’s comprehensive. The focus here is on Chapter 6: Jet Lag.

To minimize jet lag

  • Avoid large meals or dehydration.
  • Limit caffeine and alcohol consumption during the flight.
  • Optimize exposure to sunlight following arrival.
  • Break up the journey with a stopover.

To treat jet lag

  • Seek bright light in the morning if going east, and in the afternoon when going west.
  • Adjustment to the new time zone generally is faster when more time is spent outdoors during the first several days following travel.
  • Outside daylight, even on cloudy days, is more intense than interior lighting.
  • Light visors or lamps mimicking daylight have been proposed to stimulate normal circadian rhythms in travelers or shift workers.
  • The Argonne diet alternates high- and low-calorie days before departure, but has not been formally studied.


  • No results from rigorous studies are available.
  • Limited evidence suggests melatonin is well tolerated, and doses of 0.5-5 mg may promote sleep and decrease jet lag symptoms in travelers crossing 5 or more time zones.
  • Begin treatment 3 to 4 days before departure.
  • Adverse effects include sedation or a disorienting “rocking” feeling.
  • Travelers with epilepsy, or taking warfarin (Coumadin) or other oral anticoagulants, and children should consult with a healthcare provider prior to its use.

7/16/07 13:23 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.