Surviving summer: Home remedies for sunburn, stings and more

Thursday, November 29, 2012
Surviving summer: Home remedies for sunburn, stings and more

Hot weather triggers a surprising variety of ailments. Here are some easy and effective home remedies that spell relief.

Athlete's foot: Soak your feet in a basin containing 1 part apple cider vinegar and 2 parts cool water. Apply tea tree essential oil to the affected area.

Bites and stings: Dab with manuka honey that has a UMF (Unique Manuka Factor) of 15; it contains natural antibiotic and antibacterial properties to stop infection. Or, apply a paste made with a little bicarbonate of soda and water to ease itching.

Body odour: Make your own natural deodorant — mix 4 drops each of lavender, lemon, rosemary and sage essential oils with 125ml witch hazel. Not only does this smell pleasant, but the oils' antimicrobial odours neutralise odour-causing bacteria.

Cystitis: If you're prone to this pesky problem, you'll know it's more prevalent in steamy weather. Drink cranberry juice and buchu or parsley tea, and try a sitz bath containing 10 drops of soothing sandalwood essential oil.

Diarrhoea: Bugs in unfamiliar food and water can wreck summer holiday plans. Goldenseal capsules can help settle your digestive system; to restore healthy intestinal function, take a high-potency probiotic containing acidophilus and bifido bacteria.

Dry skin: Soothe cracked, sun-parched heels and elbows with a mixture of cold cooked mashed potato and olive oil. Massage into skin, leave for 10 minutes, and then rinse off.

Hangover: Summer fun can mean a sore head: try willow bark tablets for pain relief, lemon balm tea or the homoeopathic Nux vomica for nausea, and take extra B-complex vitamins as alcohol speeds the removal of these water-soluble nutrients.

Heat exhaustion: Sip ginger tea or place 3 drops of rosemary essential oil on a tissue and inhale. Sponge down skin with 4 drops each of lavender and peppermint essential oils in 200ml cool — not cold — water. Siberian ginseng is said to help the body adapt to changes in temperature: take it as a tincture, tea or tablets.

Indigestion: Take 1 teaspoonful of Swedish bitters in a little warm water. The traditional herbs in this time-tested formula stimulate digestive juices and relieve intestinal wind.

Prickly heat: Try an oatmeal bath. Grind dry rolled oats into a very fine powder in a blender and add 1 cup to a bath of lukewarm water, along with 5 drops of peppermint essential oil. Soak for 10 minutes; don't rinse off, just pat dry.

Sunburn: Chamomile contains azulene, which has very powerful anti-inflammatory and pain-relieving properties. Dip a clean cloth in cold chamomile tea and place it over the irritated skin until it becomes warm, then repeat. For a small area, like a burnt nose, chill slices of cucumber or tomato and press them lightly on the spot. Adding a cup of bicarbonate of soda or 500ml of strong black or green tea to a lukewarm bath will also help to soothe skin.

Sore eyes: Chlorine, salt water and dry, hot wind all hurt your eyes. Mix 2 drops each of lavender and chamomile essential oils in ½ cup of cool water. Soak two cotton wool pads in the liquid, squeeze out excess water and place a pad over each eye, then lie down with feet elevated higher than your head. Or, use chilled wet tea bags. Bilberry tablets may help to strengthen the small blood vessels in and around the eyes.

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