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It’s Only Natural – Herbal First Aid

Summer is a wonderful time of year.  The warm weather and sunshine encourage us to all bare some skin and enjoy the great outdoors.  Hopefully you have enjoyed planting some herbs in your garden or indoor pots.  While enjoying the beauty and aroma of these herbs, why not try making some natural herbal first aid remedies.  Many herbs used fresh or in simple preparations offer time-tested treatments for minor skin irritations.

Getting a little sunshine everyday is essential for good health, not to mention how happy it makes us feel.  It is easy however to get a bit too much sunshine and end up with a sunburn.  This is especially easy to do on cooler days when we don’t realize just how intense the sun really is.  The Aloe Vera plant contains a gel that is very soothing to sunburns.  The best way to use aloe is to break off a leaf, slice it down the middle, and apply the gel to the skin.  This will provide instant relief and cooling.

Another wonderful plant remedy for sunburn is to take a lukewarm bath with lavender and mint.  The idea of simply tossing a handful of these herbs into the bath may seem appealing at first, but believe me it is not so when you get out and have to pick leaves and flowers off of sunburned skin.  So instead, make an infusion of lavender and mint by pouring boiling water over ½ cup of the herbs and let the mixture steep for 10-20 minutes.  Strain the liquid and add it to the bath.  Another option is to wrap the herbs in cheesecloth or unbleached cotton and hang the bundle from the spout while running the water.  When you have filled the tub, let the bundle steep in the water.  This method can be used for preparing any fresh or dried herbal bath.

The beauty of the great outdoor beckons us to get outside and enjoy our favorite summer sports and activities.  Increased activity paired with the heat of the summer can often result in heat rash.  This can be especially uncomfortable for little ones.  A lukewarm bath prepared with sage, lavender and lemon balm can provide much needed relief.  Follow up with a light, natural dusting powder.

While we are outside enjoying the nice weather, often we are not alone.  Bees, wasps, mosquitoes and other stinging insects are also out building nests, making honey and sometimes trying to make a meal of us!!  A summer just would not seem complete if someone was not stung at our annual BBQ or weekend camping trip.  Herbal first aid for a string involves simply removing the stinger and applying some lavender essential oil.  Making your own lavender oil is easy and can be made into a salve for backpacking trips.  Macerate 1 ounce of dried lavender (2 ounces of fresh) with ½ pint of olive oil.  After several days in a warm place, strain and bottle the oil.  If you would like to make a salve, warm 2 ounces of the lavender oil on very low heat, just until warm.  Add 2 tablespoons of grated beeswax and stir until completely melted and incorporated with the oil.  Pour the mixture into a small, shallow, glass jar and let it cool until solid.  If it is too soft, reheat it and add a bit more beeswax. If it is too hard, reheat it and add a touch more oil.  This method can be used to make a salve out of any essential oil.  Salves are nice because they are more solid then oils, and therefore, less messy and easier to store in first aid kits.

Every rose has it thorn and unfortunately they sometimes end up puncturing our skin.  If this happens apply a poultice of plantain or comfrey.  A poultice can be made by mixing 2 ounces of macerated herbs with enough hot water to make a paste.  Apply the paste to the puncture wound and wrap with a warm cloth, towel or bandage.

When you are at work or play outdoors practice prevention by wearing gloves, shoes and a hat.  When fun in the sun results in bites, burns, bumps or blisters look no further than your backyard for a remedy.

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