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Flying with herbal medicines in the U.S. and overseas


The rules surrounding air travel with medicines can be confusing, and travel with herbal remedies is no exception. Here’s a quick look at how to handle bringing natural medicines on your next flight.

According to the TSA website, you’re permitted to bring “reasonable amounts” of “all prescription and over-the-counter medicines” including “non-prescription liquid or gel medicines” and “homeopathic” medicines in your checked and carry-on bags as long as they’re not “suspicious.” This allows travelers a lot of leeway, but also gives security officials equal freedom to reject items. It’s a good idea to take some precautions.

Make sure any herbal remedies you bring are in clearly labeled, well-sealed containers, preferably in original bottles. Although the TSA doesn’t require it, it may be helpful to bring a doctor’s note explaining your remedies’ uses. Liquid medications aren’t subject to the TSA’s three-ounce limits: however, you are required to declare amounts over three ounces to security officers and present them for inspection, so be prepared to do so.

Bringing herbal medicines into other countries is a trickier issue, since each nation has its own rules about what’s allowed in. To find out if any types of medicines are restricted, go to the embassy website of whatever country you’ll be visiting.

Personally, I wouldn’t worry too much about traveling in either the U.S. or overseas with herbal medicine, as long you’re bringing small amounts packaged in their original containers. I would, however, strongly advise you to leave at home anything homemade (or homemade-looking) and never bring products containing illegal drugs or endangered plant and animal parts (the latter of which are often used in Chinese medicines).

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