Time by the fire pit, watching fireflies, endless hours working on the garden on the quest for the perfect tomato – these are the hallmarks of summer; the things we spend day after winter day dreaming of. We have a selective memory in the dark days of winter. Those halycon summer days are bright and calm and pain-free. There are no bug bites or sun burns in the memories stored away in our minds.
But of course, in the real world, there are. This year is no exception. It’s been rainy and wet here in the midwest, so the mosquitoes and no-see-ums are out in full force. They are a downright nuisance. And when the sun does come out, we’re so unprepared for it that we forget the sunscreen when we head out to enjoy it. Bug bites and sun burns – summer.
So, once you’re hiding out indoors bitten beyond belief and the color of a lobster, what do you do? Of course, I try to think of natural home remedies to give a little relief, and these remedies frequently mean essential oils in our house. I’ve been building a nice library of reference books thanks to the fine folks at Robert Rose Inc. who have been kind enough to send me several excellent volumes for review. The tome I’ve reached for recently to alleviate our summer ailments has been The Complete Aromatherapy & Essential Oil Handbook For Everyday Wellness by Nerys Purchon and Lora Cantele.
It’s a comprehensive encyclopedia of essential oils and how to use them in aromatherapy and topical applications, including both the treatment of specific ailments (listed by type), personal care preparations (like shampoos and soaps), home cleaning recipes and massage blends. But of course in the Remedies section in Part 2, I made a beeline to – you got it – bug bites and sunburns.
The Insect Bite Paste (page 168) is a preparation some of us may remember from our childhoods – I know I certainly do. It’s simply baking soda, a little filtered water, and a drop of lavender essential oil mixed together to form a paste. You can then apply it to the affected skin to help soothe the itchiness and discomfort. I like to use well chilled ingredients when using a paste like this, as that adds to the soothing affect.
For sunburn, lavender is the star again. On page 314, a suggested topical application for sunburn relief is to mix a little aloe vera gel with lavender essential oil, and apply a thin film to the burnt skin. If you have an aloe plant, you can just cut off one of the leaves, slit it open and scrape out the gel – it’s such an easy plant to grow. They thrive in a pot in a sunny window and have minimal water requirements. There’s really no reason not to have one. But a commercial aloe vera gel will do – just be sure to purchase one that is pure aloe vera. Many store-bought gels have added alcohol (not good on burnt skin!), preservatives and fragrances – the last things you want on delicate, injured skin. And of course, well-chilled ingredients make the preparation even more soothing.
So – when summer gets the best of you, consider turning toward a home remedy to find some relief. And I would highly recommend grabbing this book if you need some guidance on recipes to use – for a variety of things.