Ten natural remedies to help you cope with everything from sunburn to insect bites and stings.


1. Aloe Vera

Soothing, cooling, pain-relieving and healing, aloe Vera is effective against bacterial and fungal infections and inflammation. Use it on athlete’s foot, cuts and spots, and for softening hard skin on elbows, hands or heels. The gel soothes itchy, sensitive or cracked skin and eczema, and forms a protective barrier to prevent moisture loss from dry skin.

How to use Aloe Vera

Choose a product that contains at least 80 per cent stabilized aloe Vera gel with a polysaccharides content of between 1200 mg and 2000 mg per liter. Apply as often as you like.

2. Apis Mel

Try this homeopathic first aid remedy for urticaria (nettle rash), bites and stings, heat rash, hay fever, stinging sore throats, hot headaches, dizziness, or a summer head cold.

How to use Apis Mel

Take 2 tablets every hour for up to10 doses (1 tablet for children).When symptoms start to improve take less often. If pregnant, avoid Apis Mel.

3. Apple Cider Vinegar

Apple cider vinegar makes a potent remedy for many summer ailments. It is soothing and has antifungal and anti-inflammatory properties.

How to use Apple Cider Vinegar

For digestive bugs, hay fever, catarrh, feverish head colds and tickly throats, add I tsp cider vinegar to a glass of water and sip at intervals. Stir in 1 tsp clear honey for extra benefits. Dab cider vinegar neat onto bumps, bruises, insect bites and wasp stings. Add 2 tbsp to 600 ml cold water and use to sponge sunburn and make a compress for feverish headaches. For athlete’s foot, add 4 tbsp cider vinegar to 1.5 liters tolerably hot water and soak the foot, or feet, for 15 minutes a day. To speed healing, add 2 crushed cloves of garlic.

4. Distilled Witch Hazel

This is a useful antiseptic and anti-inflammatory.

How to use distilled Witch Hazel

Make a cold compress for inflamed, tired or stinging eyes, sprains, sunburn, burns and heat rash. Keep the lotion in the fridge. To use, empty into a bowl, add ice cubes and soak a clean cotton flannel in the liquid. Wring out the flannel and apply to the affected area for 30 minutes, refreshing the flannel as it warms. Dab neat onto mosquito and other insect bites and stings to relieve pain and reduce swelling.

5. Fresh Cucumber

Cucumber is soothing, cooling and anti-inflammatory.

How to use fresh Cucumber

Grated or liquidized, the pulp and juice can be applied directly to sunburn, prickly heat, hives, eczema, cold sores and ant stings. Slices of cucumber placed over closed eyes for 10 to 15 minutes helps relieve dry, puffy or hay feverish eyes. Make cucumber water by simmering 1 grated cucumber in 1 liter water for 15 minutes. Cool and use as a wash for large areas of sunburn (or add to bath water), or as a foot-bath. Soak a flannel in cucumber water to make a compress for congested headaches and fevers, or use it as an eyewash. Keep cucumber water in the fridge and use within 2 days.

6. Honey

Locally produced, non-heat-treated honey is a storehouse of medicinal properties. The World Health Organization recommends it for traveler’s diarrhea – just ½ tsp on an empty stomach can ease gastric irritation and act as a gentle antibiotic on several types of irritating bacteria in the digestive tract, including salmonella.

How to use Honey

To replace fluids lost through vomiting and diarrhea, add 1 tsp clear honey and ¼ tsp salt to 300 ml bottled water and drink freely. Taking 1 tsp of local honey daily for several weeks before your usual hay fever season can help reduce symptoms. The sugars in honey have a calming effect on the brain and 1 tsp honey an hour before bedtime may help you sleep on hot summer nights. As an antiseptic it helps draw out poisons and speeds healing when applied directly to cuts and wounds. Add a little chopped fresh thyme to 1 tsp of honey and take 3 times a day for summer coughs.

Caution: Do not give honey to babies’ under1 year because of the risk of infection from bacterial spores in the honey.

7. Hypericum and Calendula Tincture

This soothing, healing and antiseptic tincture has a variety of uses.

How to use Hypericum and Calendula Tincture

Add 4 to 5 drops to a cup of cooled, boiled water to bathe cuts, grazes, skin infections, bites and stings. You can use this lotion to prevent bites. Neat tincture on a cotton bud can help to heal small injuries, bites and cold sores. For sand, grit or foreign bodies in the eye, add 3 to 4 drops to a little cooled, boiled water and use as an eyewash. For minor burns and scalds add 10 drops tincture to a cup of cooled, boiled water. Fold a pad of gauze in the solution, cover the burn for 30 minutes and keep re-soaking the gauze without removing it. Soothe sunburn by spritzing the skin with this same dilution in a plant spray or atomizer bottle.

8. Impatiens

Tempers can flare as the temperature rises – both in adults and children. Impatiens can help to calm them down, relieve tension, increase patience and restore harmony.

How to use Impatiens

Take 4 drops on the tongue or in a little water as required.

9. Ledum Pal 6C

This is the homeopathic remedy for puncture wounds, especially where there is puffy, purplish skin, severe bruising and stinging pain.

How to use Ledum Pal 6C

Try this remedy first for dog bites, wasp stings, horsefly and sand fly bites and to prevent infection in cuts and grazes. It is also good for eye injuries when there is persistent pain. For cuts and grazes take 1 dose every 2 hours for up to 6 doses, then 3 times a day for up to 3 days. For stings, bites and eye injuries, take every 2 hours for up to 6 doses.

10. Peppermint Oil

This is an excellent all-round remedy for summer holidays.

How to use Peppermint Oil

For hay fever and summer catarrh, add 3 drops peppermint oil to a bowl of hot water and use as a steam inhalation. Inhale 2 drops peppermint oil from a tissue to relieve jet lag, travel sickness or mental fatigue. Rub 1 drop into each temple and behind the ears to ease headaches (dilute in 1 tsp Grapeseed or sweet almond oil if you have sensitive skin). To beat indigestion, sickness or diarrhea, add 1 drop (no more) to a cup of hot water and sip slowly. Add the juice of a lemon to make a cooling drink to counter the effects of hot weather. To cool hot or itchy skin conditions, such as hives and sunburn, add 1 drop peppermint to 30 g unscented cream and apply as required. Use with caution on children and people with sensitive skin. To repel mosquitoes and other insects, put 1 drop in 1 tsp carrier oil and dab on wrists, ankles and behind ears, or drip 2 drops into a candle if eating outdoors. Soothe aching feet in a foot-bath with 2 to 4 drops peppermint added and afterward apply the above cream as a cooling lotion. Dab neat oil onto cold sores. If pregnant, avoid peppermint oil.

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