Remedies for Summer Bummers
Don’t let potential summer ailments sideline the fun. Be prepared with this all-natural first-aid kit.
Summer bummer: Dehydration
To the rescue: Coconut water
When feeling the heat, reach for a tropical treat. “Pure coconut water is like natural Gatorade,” says Janet Zand, an Oriental medicine doctor, certified acupuncturist and co-author of Smart Medicine for Healthier Living. “It provides plenty of electrolytes and minerals that regulate body systems and help keep fluid levels in balance.”
Bonus: This natural, low-calorie beverage hydrates you without the sweeteners, preservatives and artificial flavors found in most sports drinks—making it a great post-workout thirst quencher.
How to use: Drink 11 ounces of coconut water as soon as you begin to feel parched; it will offer the same short-term benefit as drinking a liter of water and eating a banana. Note: This isn’t a substitute for drinking enough H2O. “The key to staying hydrated is water, water, water,” says Zand. “And don’t wait until you’re thirsty to drink it.”
Summer bummer: Overheating
To the rescue: Rose water
Made by steam-distilling flowers, rose water is the go-to remedy when you’re feeling overheated, says Margi Flint, a professional member of the American Herbalist Guild, founder of EarthSong Herbals, in Marblehead, Massachusetts, and adjunct professor at Tufts University School of Medicine. “Herbs have energetic properties; some are heating, some are cooling and some are neutral,” she explains. “Rose water is very cooling.”
Bonus: Rose water smells terrific and also makes a great facial toner.
How to use: Put a few drops of organic, food grade rose water into a cup of water and drink it; or add rose water to a spray bottle filled with regular water and spritz yourself as often as you like. You can also use rose water to create a cold compress—douse a washcloth and put it in the refrigerator for a few minutes to make it cool to the touch—and apply it to the back of the neck or wrists.
Summer bummer: Poison ivy
To the rescue: Homeopathic Rhus tox
Urushiol—the oily sap produced by poison ivy and its cousins, poison oak and poison sumac—triggers contact dermatitis, an itchy and oozy rash. Topical treatments can actually spread the noxious oil around; so instead, heal the rash from within. “Homeopathy works on the principle that like-cures-like,” explains Zand. “Rhus tox is homeopathic poison ivy.”
How to use: Allow two to three tablets to dissolve in your mouth every two hours until symptoms are relieved.
Summer bummer: Indigestion
To the rescue: Nux vomica
If you overindulged at a summertime shindig, you might turn to the classic homeopathic cure for gluttony. “Nux vomica is good if you’ve eaten too many fatty foods or had too much alcohol and the result is nausea or gas,” says Zand.
How to use: Dissolve five pellets in your mouth 20 minutes after eating and drinking, then repeat two to three times until symptoms are resolved.
Summer bummer: Sunburn
To the rescue: Lavender essential oil
“Lavender is the best thing to apply right after a sunburn,” says Margo Marrone, author of The Organic Pharmacy. “It contains linalool, a natural antiseptic that helps keep burns infection-free; and esters, which reduce pain and promote cell regeneration.”
How to use: Mix 10 drops of lavender essential oil with pure aloe vera gel (or a favorite fragrance-free lotion) and apply it to affected skin as soon as you notice the burn.
Summer bummer: Muscle strains
To the rescue: Arnica
Arnica works for strains, sprains, bruises and superficial scrapes. Most people use it topically, but you can get faster results if you also ingest tablets, Zand explains.
How to use: Take three tablets orally three to five times a day for the first 24 to 48 hours; apply topically throughout the day. Note: Never apply arnica to an open wound.
Summer bummer: Bites, stings and cuts
To the rescue: Hydrogen peroxide, yarrow tincture and latex-free bandages
“First, clean the bite, sting or cut with hydrogen peroxide,” advises Flint. “Then follow with a few drops of yarrow tincture, which acts as an astringent to pull the tissue together. It’s safe to use on open wounds.”
How to use: Douse the affected areas with peroxide, then apply six to 12 drops of yarrow tincture.
Summer bummer: Athlete’s foot
To the rescue: Grapefruit seed extract
“Compounds found in the inner rind and seeds of grapefruits have shown potent anti-fungal activity,” notes Marrone. “They attack the cell wall of fungi and prevent replication when applied topically.”
How to use: Add 10 to 15 drops of organic grapefruit seed extract to a tablespoon of water and apply with a cotton swab to the affected areas twice daily.
Maureen Healy writes on natural health topics.