Northeast Wisconsin
  • Northeast Wisconsin
  • August 2017
Written by 

A natural way to survive the burns and stings of summer

As we enter the end of summer, the hot sun is high in the sky for a better part of the day, and the bugs seem to come from every direction. Prevention can be our best tool to avoid dehydration, burns, bites, stings, and rashes that can zap our energy and lesson our enjoyment of summer. Thankfully, we have several herbs to remedy any issue that may arise.

A delicious and easy way to stay hydrated and refreshed during the summer months is to keep a homemade electrolyte replacement drink in the refrigerator. It will replenish the minerals and salt lost from sweating after a hard day’s work, sports activity or a long day in the garden. Try this recipe at home with several variations. Swap regular ice cubes with frozen berries to add extra flavor, and add up to two tablespoons of fresh lemon, lime or orange juice.

Electrolyte Balance Drink

Recipe by Aviva Romm

  1. 1 quart of water or herbal tea
  2. 1-2 tablespoons of local, raw honey
  3. ¼ teaspoon Himalayan sea salt
  4. ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  5. Mix and drink as needed.

Another discomfort that seems to creep up quickly for most people is sunburn. It’s best to avoid the outdoors when the sun is highest in the sky (from about 10 a.m. until 4 p.m.). Otherwise, wearing a wide brim hat, light pants or long sleeves is beneficial to avoid burning during those hours. Using a natural sunscreen with zinc oxide is beneficial while at the pool or beach (reapply often). Engaging in outdoor activities in the early evening is most pleasant and helpful in avoiding the hot sun.

In case of a burn, the most widely known remedy, for good reason, is aloe vera. The fresh plant can easily be grown indoors and used at a moment’s notice. Cut off a leaf, slice it down the middle to expose the slimy gel inside and apply to the burn several times a day. It is cooling, soothing and healing to the skin. Store the extra gel remaining in the leaf in the refrigerator for up to a week. Lavender hydrosol is also very beneficial for sunburns for its cooling and healing properties. The essential oil can also be used diluted in fresh aloe vera gel or witch hazel. Calendula and St. John’s Wort oils or salves are remarkable for skin healing and regeneration after a burn.

Further, mosquitoes and flies can become quite an instant nuisance. Prevention is crucial when trying to avoid the itchy mosquito bite aftermath, especially for those who get large, swollen bite marks. Lavender, rosemary, peppermint, sage, wormwood or thyme all contain bug repelling properties, and can be infused into vinegar to make a homemade bug repellent. Add two tablespoons of several of these herbs to a quart jar and cover with apple cider vinegar. Let sit for at least two weeks. Strain and pour into a spray bottle. Use as needed and apply often. Catnip oil, oil of citronella or lemon eucalyptus hydrosol can be added to your recipe and are approved by the FDA for insect repellent. Light clothing and mosquito netting is appropriate for children under two years old.

Several fresh herbs can be used to stop the itchiness and relieve the inflammation attributed to a bite. Plantain is the most notable herb for bites, stings and rashes of all kinds. The fresh plant can be used immediately by harvesting a clean, unsprayed leaf, chewing it up thoroughly or mashing it with a utensil and applying it directly to the area. Other bite relief herbal salves made with jewelweed, plantain, calendula, chickweed or St. John’s wort can be prepared ahead of time and carried along for hikes and camping adventures. Clay can also be mixed with a small amount of water and applied directly to the skin for bites or rashes. The drawing action is helpful to relieve the irritation and swelling. Likewise, calendula tincture can be used alone as a spray on bites and stings, it is soothing and anti-inflammatory.

Many herbs in the home landscape can be used to prevent bug bites or stings, as well as to address them. If you’re new to gardening or have an edible landscape, consider growing any of the plants mentioned above. They will provide you with a toolkit to weather many ailments that may arise this summer. 


Dana Schlies

Dana is a Certified Women’s Herbal Educator and Community Herbalist. She is passionate about educating women about the many botanical and alternative methods to bring the body into balance and create vibrant, healthy living. She utilizes a comprehensive approach including environment, nutrition, exercise, stress reduction and botanicals to bring support to the whole body. She is part of the team at Sweet Willow Naturals, and can be reached at 920-530-1188 or [email protected]

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