Summertime offers gorgeous days for picnicking, hiking and day trips. However the hot hazy days of summer can be soured by allergies, sunburn, bug bites, or tummy troubles.
Sherry Torkos, pharmacist and author of The Canadian Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine, shares her list of natural remedies to have on hand to keep you and your family healthy and prepared this summer.
- Aloe Vera Gel – to sooth a sunburn and promote healing of the skin. You can cut open a leaf from an aloe vera plant and apply directly to the skin or pick up pure aloe vera gel, keep it in the fridge and apply as needed. Prevention is key when it comes to sunburn. Use a natural mineral-based sunscreen that provides SPF 30, apply to all exposed area and be sure to wear a hat and sunglasses when outdoors.
- Tea Tree Oil – for bug bites and minor skin irritations. Tea tree oil has antiseptic properties and helps take away the itch and sting from bug bites and promote healing. It is also good to treat minor skin irritations and even mild to moderate acne, with benefits comparable to benzoyl peroxide but less irritating/drying.
- Oil of Oregano – it has a wide range of properties: antibacterial, antiviral and anti fungal properties. It can be used in a neti pot to clear sinus congestion; add a few drops to water for an oral rinse to manage minor issues like sore gums and canker sores; it can be used topically for foot fungus and cold sores. It is also a natural insect repellent.
- Arnica – this homeopathic remedy can help manage muscle pain and swelling associated with overexertion or minor injuries and promote healing of bruises.
- Oatmeal – for relieving dry, itchy skin, whether due to poison ivy/oak or allergic reactions. This is the active ingredient in Aveeno. You can make your own bath treatment by grinding oatmeal with a coffee grinder or food processor and then add to a tub of warm water. Follow with a moisturizer that contains soothing and hydrating ingredients such as vitamin E, aloe, and lavender.
- Ginger – for nausea, motion sickness and upset stomach. Ginger contains very potent anti-inflammatory compounds called gingerols that help relieve nausea and gas, and soothe the intestinal tract. One study found ginger superior to dimenhydrinate, a common ingredient in OTC motion sickness products (Gravol). Ginger is available in tablets and chewables for kids. You can also get the benefits by drinking ginger tea or real ginger ale.
- Probiotics – beneficial bacteria that help improve digestion and support immune health. Probiotics can help prevent infection due to food borne illness. Food stored outdoors on hot, humid days can be risky. Bacteria can thrive in these conditions and and cause food-borne illness (stomach pains, nausea and diarrhea). To reduce your risk of food poisoning, take a daily probiotic and be sure to keep foods stored properly.
For more information on natural remedies, pick up a copy of The Canadian Encyclopedia of Natural Medicine, available online or at all major bookstores.