Hey you, working so hard to pack for your summer family trip—I see you’re forgetting something! Oh, and you, over there, struggling to pack up your teenage boy for sleepover camp! You both are leaving out the most important part of your preparations: your “Natural First Aid Kit For the Summer!” Besides rubbing alcohol, band-aids and thermometer, you should bring a little box filled with treasures for your natural first aid kit. I will quickly introduce you to a few wonderful items to help you treat bug bites, cuts and bruises. These natural products are safe and easy to use and most of them are available at your local health food store. If not, ask them to order for you. You can easily teach your children going away to summer camp or traveling on their own how to use these items.

  1. Green Clay — This has to be one of my most favorite healing tools. French green clay is pure clay from the earth. Green clay is fabulous for bug bites. Mix one teaspoon of green clay in a cup with just a few drops of water to form a paste. Paint over the bug bite with the paste and let the paste dry. If the bite is very sore you can paint over the existing green clay 2-4 times (letting the clay dry in between) or every hour until the healing begins. The bug bite should stop itching and will heal quickly. Green clay paste is also wonderful for kitchen burns: apply as above and you will be amazed at the way it cools and heals burnt skin (not for use on sunburns). Also, you can use the powder directly (not mixed with water) on diaper rashes and heat rashes.
  2. Arnica 30c — This is a homeopathic remedy that is placed under the tongue for falls and bumps. When you use any homeopathic remedy put a few pellets under the tongue and let it dissolve slowly. (It is best if you refrain from eating 15 minutes before and 15 minutes after the remedy, but this is not necessary in an emergency.) Ordinarily this remedy is given every 3 hours as needed for pain in about 3 doses, but if it is a true emergency the remedy can be given every 15 minutes until you seek out medical attention.
  3. St. John’s Wort Oil — I just love this oil; it is wonderful and soothing. The oil is great for sunburns, muscle aches and stiff necks. You can liberally apply this oil after a nasty sunburn (but do not go out in the sun directly after you put on the oil; let it soak into the skin first). You can also add two drops of pure lavender oil to the St. John’s Wort oil to help soothe the burn. This can also be used with aloe vera gel. The oil can also be massaged into sore and bruised muscles. It is also very helpful if you wake up with a stiff neck. The best quality oil is from Woodland Essences at (315) 845-1515.
  4. Yunnan Paiyado powder — Wow, great name! This is a superb Chinese powder mix. It will almost instantly stop a cut from bleeding. Two summers ago I was in the country and a neighbor sliced her finger opening a tuna fish can. She had been trying for almost one hour to stop her bleeding finger. She was on her way to the doctor but stopped at my place first. I put some of this powder over the cut as she was on the phone deciding who was going to take care of her children while she was at the doctor, and by the end of the phone call her finger had stopped bleeding. It works like magic. It also helps promote healing of the wound. If you suspect a wound needs stitches do not apply this powder unless under the guidance of a professional. If stitches are needed I would take Arnica homeopathic remedy under my tongue on the way to getting those stitches! You can order this powder from New York’s Chinatown by calling (212) 962-0447.
  5. Rosemary, Lavender, Citronella Essential Oils — These oils are great as a bug repellent! You can purchase a small water spritz bottle. Fill the bottle up with water and add 20 drops each of all three of these oils. You can then spray on you or your children’s clothes all day long as needed. You can also burn these oils in a diffuser (You can find most essential oils and diffusers at your health food store.).

There is so much more to learn but my time has run out. Start with these items this summer and you will be amazed at how much you can help yourself, your kids, and your neighbors heal. Have a safe and productive summer, and happy healing!

Oh, the joys of summer. The fresh air, the warm days, the freedom, the sun, the beautiful sunsets, the barbeques … the bugs, the sunburns, the bumps, the bruises, the kvetchy children … Don’t despair, be prepared!

I was once teaching a class on natural healing and a person raised her hand and said, “How does a person know what to buy in health food stores? Everything is so expensive. What items are beneficial and important, and what items are just a waste of money?” I then decided to gear my first aid lecture on inexpensive items that are truly healing and worth spending your money on.

In the last article, I discussed Green clay (for bug bites), Arnicia 30c (for bumps and bruises), St. John’s Wort (for muscle and sunburn pain), Yunnan Paiyado powder (to stop bleeding), and the essential oils Rosemary, Lavender, and Citronella (as a natural bug repellent). Now let’s learn some more.

  1. Homeopathic Hypericum 30c — This remedy is often used after Arnica. It is used with “crush injuries”, like smashed finger tips, puncture wounds, injured tailbones, nerve pain and dental work. The wounds are excessively painful. You can give the remedy initially every 15 minutes for the first hour, then every 3-4 hours for the next day. You can order these remedies from your local health food store.
  2. Homeopathic Ledum 30c — This remedy is used for puncture wounds like insect bites, or injuries from sharp objects. Give this remedy as soon as possible after the bite or puncture has occurred. Give it every 15 minutes for the first hour, then one more dose 3 hours later.
  3. Cinnamon — Yes, cinnamon from your pantry. I would not go anywhere without some cinnamon capsules in my purse. Cinnamon is used for all stomach upsets like stomach pain, cramping, food poisoning, or diarrhea. Ask your local health food store if they have empty vegetable capsules (most health food stores have them for sale, estimated cost $2.00-$5.00). Sit at your table and fill a bunch of capsules with the cinnamon powder. You do not have to fill both sides of the capsule. Just scoop up half of the capsule with the cinnamon then cover with the other half of the capsule. In a study conducted at a prestigious medical school, a jar was filled with apple cider that was contaminated with E-Coli bacteria. The students poured some cinnamon into the contaminated apple cider. By morning, no E-Coli were detected. I give a bag of these capsules to all my older children who go to sleep- away camp. They take 1-2 capsules 1-4 times per day as needed for upset stomachs (and relief from camp food!). For children that cannot yet swallow pills, cinnamon can be sprinkled over toast, oatmeal, or applesauce. (Give it to your husband when he has a stomach ache. He will become an instant believer in alternative healing).
  4. Aloe Vera Gel — This is my favorite relief for sunburns. Do not be fooled by products “containing Aloe”; you want the real thing. At your local health food store you can purchase a small bottle of pure aloe vera gel. It does not need to be refrigerated until after you open it. I do not find that aloe works well on kitchen burns (I use green clay or lavender essential oil for that), but for sunburns, aloe gel is the best. The aloe gel can be applied to the sunburn every hour as needed to help cool and repair the skin. Aloe vera gel can also be mixed with St. John’s Wort oil in equal amounts with 3-4 drops of lavender essential oil.

You now have a very complete and effective Natural First Aid Kit. Relax! You are knowledgeable and prepared to have fun this summer. Lastly, I will share with you a natural supplement that is free — Vitamin D! Your body will get all the vitamin D you need for the whole year just by spending time in the sun. So, relax in the sun and absorb the free vitamins. Enjoy your summer!

No matter how hard we all try to avoid it, every child will get sunburned at least once in their lives. But don’t despair; there are some wonderful and inexpensive products you can have in your home to help heal that fiery, burning pain for your child.

You should also know that many ‘natural’, plant based products lose their healing components if they sit on a shelf for an extended period of time—aloe vera is one example. The aloe vera plant is only beneficial after the soothing gel of the plant is extracted from the leaf and used directly. Its healing ability becomes inactive very quickly. Unfortunately, most products that have aloe vera as the main ingredient have been on the shelf far too long to still be effective.

But all hope is not lost; below are three superb items that all parents and caregivers should have on-hand during the steamy summer months.

  • Fresh aloe vera plant is very inexpensive, easy to care for and can be purchased at most florists and many housewares stores. To use the plant for burns, simply break off a part of the leaf and squeeze out some of the thick, slimy gel and apply it directly to the skin. If you know you are going to spend the whole day outdoors, you can break off a leaf and place it in the refrigerator before you leave so it will be nice and cool to apply to your child’s skin. You can apply the gel once a day or as often as every hour.
  • Saint John’s wort oil is my absolute favorite. It’s the gorgeous yellow flowers of the Saint John’s wort plant, when infused with olive oil turn into a magnificent red oil. If this oil is not available at your local health food store, it can be purchased on the Internet. Saint John’s wort oil does not have a long shelf life, but when bought directly from an herbalist, the oil will take you through the entire summer and into winter. Although the Saint John’s wort herb has become popular in the use of depression, an equally effective use of this plant is to help ease nerve pain—like the pain of an ear infection or when used on the skin after a burn. It not only helps heal the damaged tissue, but helps relieve the nerve pain associated with the burn. This oil can be mixed with gel from the aloe plant and put directly on the burn at least once a day but as often as every hour. Saint John’s wort oil does not need to be refrigerated.
  • Lavender essential oil is extremely helpful with both sunburns and kitchen burns. Make sure it is the pure essential oil and not a lotion containing lavender. This essential oil’s ability to repair damaged skin is remarkable. This oil works best if diluted. A few drops could be added to a body lotion or pure olive oil and then spread over the burn. What’s even better is to add a few drops to either the gel of the aloe plant or the St. John’s wort oil.

If you are able to purchase the above three items you can make your own special sunburn concoction by adding all of them into a glass bottle that can be stored in your refrigerator. You can start by purchasing a four ounce glass amber jar with a glass dropper at your local pharmacy or on-line. Begin the mixture by taking off an aloe leaf, at the pointy end of the leaf, and holding it over the opening of the jar; slowly massage the plant allowing the gel-like liquid to go into the bottle until it’s a quarter full. Next, add two ounces of St. John wort oil and add 35 drops of pure lavender essential oil; cover the bottle with the dropper and shake, mixing all of the ingredients together, then store it in the fridge. You can add a teaspoon of pure vitamin E oil as a natural ‘preservative,’ if you have some in the house. This mixture will stay fresh in the fridge for eight to twelve weeks.

By Sara Chana Silverstein, IBCLC, BA, Herbalist and Student of Homeopathy. She is a licensed Lactation Consultant helping women and babies with breastfeeding problems. She also works with children and adults with chronic ear and strep infections, stomach problems and emotional issues. She can be reached at 718-467-1455.

Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate is the most important thing to do. Okay, you already know that. You have been around enough to know that you need to drink water, sleep, and repent for your sins. But what if you don’t want to drink water? What if you are too agitated to sleep? What if your stomach is in knots? Well, here are a few other suggestions you can try to help get back on track! You can choose from rehydrating smoothies, herbal teas, homeopathic remedies, or perhaps hot/cold contrast water therapy.

Hydrate doesn’t just mean drink water. There are many fruits and vegetables that can help you to hydrate, or rehydrate, and also replace the important vitamins and minerals that you either used up, or threw up, as we shall soon see. But if you find yourself in the kitchen and water is not alluring enough, or within reach, you might want to grab that “empty’ pickle jar and drink the remaining pickle juice! Sound a little odd? Well, this is a popular Russian hangover cure. And it works because pickle juice is a seasoned form of brine that cucumbers have been cured in. Brine is salt water, and the curing process not only turns the cucumbers into pickles, but it also helps absorb some of the contents of the cucumbers—which are high in water and minerals—into the salty brine. The salt helps the body to retain the mineral-laced water so that it can stay hydrated and recover quickly. But if you just can’t imagine bringing that pickle jar to your lips for a swig, you can try a vegetable or fruit smoothie instead. Of course, the vegetables and fruits that you want to choose are those that are high in water content, vitamins and minerals.

Did you know that carrots are 88% water, broccoli is 91% water, and cucumbers are a whopping 96% water? Watermelon is a hydration powerhouse and is 93% water, grapes 82%, even bananas have a lot of water in them at 73%. These vegetables and fruits are also filled with other important components that the body needs to replenish after a night-on-the-town. So, take out your blender and try a few of these combination drink and food hydration specials!

You can start with water as the base for your smoothie, but if you can substitute coconut water instead, you will also be giving your body important electrolytes such as potassium, magnesium, calcium, sodium, and phosphorous to super-charge your smoothie. However, you should know that coconut water differs from coconut milk because it is only found in the younger, less ripe coconuts.

Here are a few of the smoothie suggestions for managing a hangover:

Vegetable super-hydration smoothie: Take cucumber, broccoli,celery, and carrots, put them into a blender and press the liquefy button. After this blend is liquefied, add either water or coconut water.

Fruit variation super-hydration smoothie: Take grapes, watermelon, bananas, strawberries, apples or grapefruit, liquefy them in a blender and then add either water or coconut water.

Here are a few alternative suggestions for managing a hangover:

Herbal teas such as peppermint or ginger, with some honey, can help knock out that nauseas feeling. Note that peppermint is a cooling herb and is therefore suggested if you are feeling hot and sweaty with an unsettled feeling in your stomach. Ginger on the other hand is a warming herb, famous for helping to relieve nausea. Ginger is used if your nausea makes you feel cold and nauseas. By adding honey, you are giving your body fructose which is purported to help the body rid itself of alcohol at a faster rate than drinking the tea by itself.

If you want to try homeopathy, you should know that homeopathic remedies are chosen from specific symptoms, which often differ from one person to another with the same condition. And hangovers affect people differently. In general, however, the homeopathic pellets can be dissolved under your tongue and taken every hour, for four to six hours, until your symptoms begin to subside.

Here are some homeopathic remedies that I would recommend:

Coffea 6c – If everything is bothering you and you feel hyper-sensitive to noises and light, try this remedy.

Pulsatilla 6c – If you are whining and complaining and feel like you need to be comforted, try this remedy.

Nux Vomica 6c – If you generally enjoy stimulants like coffee and alcohol, you often suffer from stomach upset and you can be grumpy and controlling, try this remedy.

As a last suggestion, if you really are in a rush to get better, try hot and cold-contrast water therapy—which is simply alternating back and forth from a hot to a cold shower! This works to increase circulation and helps rid your body of toxins. When the body is subjected to cold external temperatures, the flow of circulation is directed inward toward the internal organs, and as the outside temperature gets hot, the flow of circulation goes outward toward the skin. Alternating hot and cold makes the circulation move in and out like and accordion. This has the effect of increasing circulation, helping to both detoxify and move nutrients more readily to various parts of the body.

Here is how this hot and cold-contrast water therapy is done. Begin with a warm shower, and after two to three minutes under the warm shower, switch to cold water. However, don’t switch to ice cold water immediately. Lukewarm water will seem cold after a warm shower, so just slowly change the temperature until you find a suitable cold temperature that you can endure for thirty seconds. After thirty seconds under the cold water, switch back to warm water, then increase to a hotter temperature, and then a colder temperature—at the temperature your body can tolerate. You can repeat the process as long as you are comfortable with it, and provided that it doesn’t, of course, feel worse than the hangover.

All roses are edible! Surprising, huh? But Please don’t take a bite of the ones on your dining room table, you will need to get the organic if you want to taste them or use them medicinally. The commercial brands are sprayed with pesticides and are often dyed.

The elegant rose is used medicinally to help soothe the nervous system, heal the respiratory, heart, and kidneys. Rose tea helps to bring balance to nerves and to endocrine glands. It has also been used to stimulate the immune system, it helping with colds and flus, infections, help soothe inflamed mucous membranes, also to help alleviate anxiety or depression. The essential oil of roses helps to alleviate skin irritations specifically with broken capillaries on the face.

Rose petals, and specifically and rose hips are rich in vitamin C, carotene, the B vitamins, and vitamin K, as well as calcium, magnesium, copper , and many other minerals. Fresh rose hips, harvested at the correct time of year contain 60% more vitamin C than oranges!

Medicinally, for internal use, roses are prepared either as a tea or tinctured in a grain alcohol base. Topically, roses can be made into rose water or rose essential oil.

Herbal suggestions are:

Reishi mushrooms are super-powerful medicinal mushrooms that both stimulate the immune response and reduce the histamine production in the body. They are available in capsule form, which makes them easy to take, and are best taken two to three times a day.

Freeze-dried nettle is a green plant filled with chlorophyll that has been shown in clinical studies to be as effective as today’s allergy medicines. The positive side of taking nettles is that most people feel clearing in their nose, eyes and sinuses within 20 minutes, and nettles don’t have the side effects of most modern anti-allergy medicines, like sleepiness and dry mouth. The downside is that the effectiveness of nettles can wear off in four hours, so they need to be taken more often than conventional medicines. And while taking nettles can be likened to eating a wild salad, they also come in an easy-to-take capsule form.

Homeopathy is not taken preventatively, but can help alleviate symptoms at the first sign of allergy. It may take a little trial and error before one finds the correct homeopathic remedy that suits your specific symptoms, because homeopathic remedies target an individual’s reactions to a sickness rather than attacking the ailment directly, but the relief can be wonderful and worth the effort.

Some Homeopathic remedies choices are:

Allium Cepa 30c is used for constantly tearing eyes, sneezing and liquid that is coming out of the nose.

Sabadilla 30c is used for a stuffy nose that also drips, constant sneezing and dripping eyes. It’s also used when the allergy can be felt in the lungs.

Arundo 30c is used for that annoying scratching that can be felt in the back of the mouth by the soft palate, inside the nose and ears.