NATURAL JOURNEY BY AMY PUNKE
Summer is here and so are sunburns, itchy bites and painful stings, cuts and scrapes. My goal as a naturopathic doctor is to recommend, whenever possible, the tools to take care of you and your family naturally and safely. Pediatrician, midwife and herbalist Dr. Aviva Romm, MD never leaves home without a well-stocked first aid kit. She offers this advice when preparing a first aid kit, "There are many good reasons to help our kids avoid unnecessary antibiotics and synthetic medications. Mother Nature’s medicines can be great allies!"
Here is a list of what you will need to make your own first aid kit. A lot of these items can be found at your local health food store. I have also seen the following herbs and salves at our very own New Glasgow Farmers Market:
– Aloe vera gel: the clear, jelly-like substance found in the inner part of the aloe plant leaf. The gel of the plant, when applied topically, increases circulation in the tiny blood vessels in the skin, as well as kills bacteria which aids in healing.
– Arnica oil and calendula oil: arnica oil can be used topically as an anti-inflammatory and is commonly used in sports medicine. Calendula is considered a vulnerary in herbal medicine which means it is great for cuts, scrapes, bruises, insect bites and minor wounds.
– Chamomile, lemon balm and peppermint tea: these teas are considered to be very cooling and also calming for the nervous system.
– Comfrey salve or oil and plantain salve: also great vulnerary herbs and antimicrobials used for cuts, scrapes, bruises, insect bites and minor wounds.
– Tea tree and lavender essential oils: great antimicrobials to prevent infection.
– Elderberry syrup: a great antioxidant and immune booster.
– Apple cider vinegar: when applied topically to bee stings, will reduce pain and minimize swelling also helping to draw out the venom.
– Witch hazel: considered an astringent in herbal medicine which when applied directly to the skin, helps reduce swelling, helps repair broken skin, and prevents infection.
Here are some of my favourite remedies for common summer time ailments:
Sunburns: Use aloe vera gel, lavender oil (diluted and used as a spray), comfrey salve or calendula oil. If you get sunburn, it is important to stay well hydrated – try cooling herbal teas such as peppermint and lemon balm.
Mosquito bites: Aloe, witch hazel or calendula oil.
Bee stings: Before treating, remove the stinger. Herbs that can help include apple cider vinegar, calendula oil and lavender essential oil. Always seek immediate medical help if you or your child has a known bee allergy.
Seasonal allergies: Vitamin D, Elderberry syrup (1-2 tsp per day), Freeze dried nettles (2 capsules 2-3 times per day).
Bruises: Arnica oil.
Cuts and scrapes: witch hazel, calendula, lavender and tea tree oil.
These are just a few ideas on how naturopathic medicine can keep you are your family healthy this summer. These first aid kit suggestions are for minor injuries. As always, please see a qualified health care practitioner should the condition be of a more serious nature, e.g. allergic reactions, extensive burns, eye injuries, persistent infections and high fever.
Dr. Amy Punké, ND, has a naturopathic practice at Whole Self Wellness Centre, 106 Stellarton Rd., New Glasgow (above Healthy Selection). Visit www.dramypunke.com or call 902-755-1210.