Summer soothers: Au naturale

By Jessica Kirby, Senior Editor of TheGreenGazette –

Summer is a great time to be in the chemical business. Statistics aren’t kept on the amount by which total dollars spent on common ailments increases this time of year, but I can tell you this: the sun care industry alone earns around $135 million in Canada and $5.6 billion in the US, according to a recent Global Industry Analysts report.

Aloe Vera plant.  Photo: Andrew Rivett frogphoto.com

Aloe Vera plant. Photo: Andrew Rivett frogphoto.com

And the money is only the beginning. Study after study points to the full picture of commercially prepared products like sunscreens, lip balm, insect repellant, and pharmaceutical travel sickness remedies, which are indeed effective but sometimes have unwanted side effects. Sunscreens are often toxic and chemically unstable, insect repellant is full of cancer-causing chemicals, and drugs like Gravol can cause drowsiness and impairment.

If you want to take on summer with healthy and effective protection against minor ailments and without the chemical side effects, give the natural route a try.

Insect repellent: Essential oils like lavender, pennyroyal, lemongrass, and eucalyptus are effective against mosquitos, fleas, and ticks. Peppermint dropped on a tick in action will cause it to remove itself.

Sunburn: It may not smell the greatest, but vinegar contains acetic acid, which is also found in Aspirin. Applied to a sunburn it relieves pain, itching, and swelling. Other remedies include a cool shower, cool chamomile tea dabbed on the affected areas, and applying gel from an aloe vera plant. Lavender essential oil can also heal the effected area, and homeopathic arnica has also proven effective. Most importantly, limit sun exposure until the burn is healed.

Heat rash: Soak in a tub with a few tablespoons of baking soda or fine ground oatmeal and a few drops of lavender oil added to relieve itching, or apply baking soda or chilled chamomile directly to the area.

Travel sickness: Keep powdered or fresh ginger on hand to keep travel sickness at bay. A half teaspoon of powder added to tea or other beverage, or double that of fresh ginger can change your entire trip. Drink plenty of water and nibble on protein-rich snacks, as well.

Blisters: Use a sterile needle to pop the blister and gently press out the fluid. Smear the area with aloe vera gel straight from the plant, avoiding processed aloe, which contains a drying agent.

Minor cuts: If you don’t have antibiotic cream and a bandage, dab a little honey on minor cuts—honey has antibacterial properties, and dries to form a natural covering.

Sun-fried hair: Thoroughly mix a ripe, peeled avocado with a teaspoon of wheat-germ oil and a teaspoon of jojoba oil, and apply it to freshly washed hair. Cover with a cap or a plastic bag for 15–30 minutes, and rinse thoroughly.

Sliver: Cover a tiny, inaccessible sliver with adhesive tape—in roughly three days, the sliver will come off with the tape.

Athlete’s foot: Soak feet in a warm Epsom salt foot bath and dab the area with a sugarless antiseptic mouthwash several times a day. Apple cider vinegar changes the pH of the skin so the fungus can’t grow—soak in warm water and apple cider vinegar, then rub the affected areas with the undiluted substance. Try rubbing garlic on the area, and always keep the area open, clean, and dry.

Bee or wasp stings: Apply a paste of water and meat tenderizer to break down the proteins in the venom and soothe the area.

Poison ivy: Grind 1 cup oatmeal to a fine powder, pour it into a piece of cheesecloth or the foot of a clean nylon stocking, and tie it around the faucet of your bathtub. Fill the tub with luke warm water running through the oatmeal and soak in it for 30 minutes. Also, apply oatmeal directly to the rash.

Headaches: Drink two litres of water each day in the summer, and make sure hunger isn’t a factor. Relax with meditations, relaxing music, or the comfort of a dark, quiet room. Avoid loud noises, perfumes, tight clothing, and high heels, and try chamomile, ginger, and peppermint teas.

Summer colds: Avoiding or reducing the severity of summer colds is all about immunity so try these amazing foods to keep healthy all summer long. Mushrooms like shiitake and maitake make white blood cells act more aggressively against foreign bacteria. Garlic’s antibacterial, antiviral, and antifungal properties are well-known, and onions share many of the same properties. Ginger is a traditional choice in the fight against colds because of its ability to fight infection, and turmeric boosts the immune system and detoxifies the system. And don’t forget spinach, leafy greens, and cruciferous veggies like broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage—the beta-carotene, vitamin C, and calcium in these are trusty aides in any cold season.

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