Living the WELL Life

Healing Summer's Bummers Naturally - by Melanie Waxman

Friday, July 19, 2013

The passion and heat of summer is upon us, and for many, it is a time to get outside, have fun, enjoy the beach, and travel.  However, the scorching weather can trigger a surprising number of ailments. Here are some easy and effective remedies that we often already have in our pantry. Baking soda, apple cider vinegar, chamomile tea, and essential oils are some of the simple ingredients that can sooth away those summer bummers.


If you have been out in the sun and are suffering the painful effects of sunburn, a simple natural remedy may be just what you need.

  • The easiest way to sooth the affected area is to relax in an apple cider vinegar bath. Use 2 cups of vinegar and add to lukewarm water. Soak for about 10-15 minutes. Dry off by dabbing, not wiping, your skin with a soft cotton towel.
  • You can also mix 2-3 tablespoons or apple cider vinegar with 1 cup of cool (not cold) water. Soak paper towels in the solution and gently lay them over the affected area.
  • Another simple solution is to dab cooled chamomile tea gently on the burn.
  • The gel from the inside leaves of the aloe vera plant can be applied for a cooling and regenerative affect. If you buy the gel, make sure it’s 100% pure aloe vera
  • A few drops of lavender essential oil can be applied directly to the skin to provide healing from sunburn.
  • Limit further exposure to the sun. The skin requires time to heal and regenerate. Use a natural sunscreen daily.


Heat rash 

The summer sun, humidity and heat can create an inflammation known as heat rash or prickly heat, an uncomfortable condition caused by blocked sweat glands.

  • The best way to avoid or reduce its occurrence is to keep as cool as possible, drink plenty of liquids, expose the affected area to air and wear loose, light, cotton clothing.
  • A simple way to sooth a heat rash is to add one cup of baking soda and four drops of lavender oil to tepid bathwater. Relax in the bath and enjoy the cooling affects.
  • Or simple apply chilled chamomile tea topically to the area.
  • Make sure to use a natural, fragrance-free talcum powder a few times a day to the affected area.
  • Oatmeal baths can be very soothing to the skin in general. Simply add some oatmeal powder to your bathwater.
  • Cucumber is another source of water and is cooling for the body. Place slices of cucumbers directly onto the affected area. You can also munch on them as part of your daily diet.
  • Make sure you are drinking enough. A lovely cup of peppermint tea cools the body and helps to speed up the healing of prickly heat. Drink it for prevention too.


Poison Ivy

Poison ivy rash occurs when the plant toxin, urushiol, comes into contact with human skin. It is a condition characterized by swelling, blisters, pain and an amazing amount of itching.  There is nothing more annoying than weeding your garden and realizing you have pulled up some poison ivy. The first step is to immediately wash your hands and arms with soap and water to remove any lingering residue. If a rash does develop, here are some remedies that can help. 

  • Baking soda is a wonderful natural remedy for the itchiness and irritation associated with a poison ivy rash. Mix 3 teaspoons of baking soda with 1 teaspoon of water and mix until it forms a paste. Apply this paste to the infected area.
  • Apple Cider Vinegar has a toxin-pulling action that helps suck the poison out of the pores.  Apply organic apple cider vinegar directly to the infected skin.
  • Veggies like cucumber, banana peel, and watermelon rind have been known to sooth and cool the rash. Simply rub gently over the affected area.


Athlete's foot 

Athlete's foot is caused by the tinea fungus and is a common skin problem that can be picked up from walking on damp floors in public showers or locker rooms It can also flare up when feet have been enclosed in hot shoes and are unable to breathe. You can treat athlete's foot with simple remedies that are probably already in your kitchen.

  • Expose your feet to fresh air and sunlight. Keep them clean and dry. Where possible, wear sandals rather than closed shoes. If using socks, make sure they are cotton and change them daily.
  • Soak your feet in a warm footbath with a cup of Epsom salts.
  • After the foot soak, rub the affected areas with undiluted apple cider vinegar. Apple cider vinegar changes the pH of the skin and prevents the fungus from developing.
  • Garlic is considered to be an excellent antibiotic and can kill the fungus that causes athlete's foot. Rub a clove of garlic on the affected area.
  • Tea tree oil is very effective. Rub a few drops over the rash.
  • Remember that a plant-based diet will keep immune system strong and help to prevent fungal infections. Love your veggies!



Bug Bites

To prevent those pesky bug biters, wear light colored, loose cotton clothing while outside. Mosquito's are more attracted to dark colors and easily bite through tight clothes.

  • Create a natural insect repelling home by growing rosemary, basil, catnip, lemon balm, and rose geraniums in your yard. Lemon balm and catnip are especially good for warding off mosquitoes.
  • Make sure you don’t have any standing water out and around your home, as these are ideal breeding grounds for mosquitoes.
  • To repel those bugs, dilute a few drops of citronella, peppermint, eucalyptus, rosemary or tea tree essential oil with a teaspoon of olive or almond oil and apply to the skin. A few drops dabbed behind the ears should do the trick.
  • The next time a mosquito takes a bite; make a paste out of 3 teaspoons of baking soda and 1 teaspoon of water. Apply directly to the itchy spot. Baking soda is alkaline and helps neutralize your skin’s pH balance, which eases the inflammation, itch and pain.
  • Or cut a slice of onion, scallion, or radish and rub it over the bite.
  • Lavender essential can also help. Rub in a few drops to ease the itch.
  • Listerine makes for a great insect repellant. Mosquito’s seem to hate the smell, so pour it into a spray bottle and use liberally.
  • Sugar, ice cream, alcohol, and cakes can make your blood more acidic and attractive to those troublesome bugs!


Bee Stings 

  • Make sure to remove the sting with tweezers. Grab a little damp soil from the yard or park, and place over sting. This takes the pain out quickly
  • Honey of all things works wonders. Bees have both the sting and the cure. Place a little on the affected area.
  • Baking soda can be made into a paste with water and slathered over the skin. Don’t rinse off.
  • Crushed basil or parsley leaves, or a slice of onion or garlic can also ease the sting and take the pain away.


When traveling abroad, it is a good idea to be cautious about buying food from street vendors and using tap water (including for cleaning teeth).

  • Always drink bottled water and make sure that it is unopened when you receive it.
  • Drink herbal teas where possible as the water is boiled and the herbs are gentle on the digestion.
  • Carry umeboshi. This salty sour plum is very alkaline and helps combat heart burn, settle the stomach, sooth headaches, and aid digestion.
  • Strong black tea can stop vomiting and help settle the stomach. Use 1 tea bag and steep in a cup of hot water for 10 minutes. Sip slowly.
  • A hot water bottle is a soothing, cheap and easy travel companion. Simply fill with boiling water and use for stomachaches, menstrual cramps, and any muscle tightness.
  • Ginger’s anti-inflammatory properties can lessen the symptoms of nausea and vomiting as it promotes the secretion of digestive juices that neutralize stomach acid. If you are going on a long car journey and are prone to travel sickness, powdered ginger is easy to pack. Add half a teaspoon to your herbal tea or hot water and sip warm. You can also add slices of fresh ginger instead or chew on a piece of the root.
  • There are also some very good homeopathic pills for motion sickness and jet lag that are well worth having in your travel bag. They can be purchased at most natural food stores.



  • Scrape a knee or elbow? Grab some honey – manuka works the best. It speeds healing and prevents infection.
  • Black pepper can stop bleeding. For a minor cut, sprinkle pepper over the top and cover with a bandage.
  • Lavender essential oil works wonders for scrapes. It is antibacterial, antiseptic, and soothing. Put two drops directly on scraped skin and gently rub in. It should ease the pain, but more importantly, it will disinfect the wound and leave it less prone to infection
  • Calendula cream and Rescue Remedy are worth having in your natural medicine cabinet. Both are great for small wounds, scrapes and burns.


Headaches from the heat

  • Hydration is the key.  Drink plenty of fluids. Make sure that water is cool but not icy. Add a few slices of lemon, lime or cucumber for added cooling benefits.
  • Cool herbal teas can bring relief. Try chamomile, ginger, or peppermint.
  • 1 tablespoon on apple cider vinegar in a cup of water can also help.
  • Ume concentrate is a worth having as it is extremely alkaline and works wonders for headaches. It is costly, but you only need the smallest amount, about the size of your little fingernail. Consume as is or add to warm tea and dissolve. Great for digestive issues and hangovers too!
  • Try relaxation techniques such as meditation, lying in a darkened room with a cool damp towel over your face, listening to relaxing music or a foot soak to relieve the intensity of a headache.
  • Remove all possible intensifying factors such as loud noises, perfumes, tight clothing or high heels.
  • Include light, uplifting, refreshing dishes/foods into your diet such as raw and blanched salads, berries, vegetable juices and melon, and watch the alcohol and sugar.


Please remember to be sensible. For any serious burns, rashes, wounds etc. it is important to seek medical attention.


Healing form the Inside…

Here are some Simple Drinks that can give extra healing from the inside out.

Aduki Bean Tea – can provide added relief for poison ivy and any rashes


Place ½ cup aduki beans in 2 cups water with a 1 inch strip kombu. Soak for at least 4 hours.  Bring to a boil and simmer for about 20 minutes. Strain out the beans and drink warm. Have a cup a day for 3 days.


Kombu Tea – can provide added relief for athletes foot, mosquito bites and wounds/scrapes


Place a rinsed 2 inch strip of kombu into a pan. Add 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil and simmer for about 15 minutes. Remove the kombu and drink warm. Have 1 cup daily for 3 days. The kombu can be re-used in other dishes.


Ume Sho Kuzu – can be helpful for diarrhea, headaches from too much sugar/alcohol etc, mosquito bites, and bee stings.


Diluted 1 heaping teaspoon kuzu into a cup of cold water. Place in a pan with an umeboshi plum. Heat on a medium flame and stir constantly until the liquid becomes translucent and thickened. Add a few drops of shoyu, mix gently and drink warm. Have one cup daily for 3 days.


Hot Apple Juice – can help headaches at the back of the head or from too much sun, salty foods or chips, crackers, animal food etc.


Heat apple juice in pan and drink warm. Can add a generous squeeze of lemon.


Have a great natural summer!


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