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These six household items make up your natural first-aid kit, writes Bonnie Cleaver
The things you love about summer – those long, sunny days spent outdoors – can sometimes lead to such ailments as sunburn, heat rash, and insect bites. Arm yourself with the right first-aid kit and you can prevent and treat summer glitches in no time. This year, think natural and stock your kit with gentle, multi-purpose products. We’ve rounded up six natural cures that will do the trick – and chances are, you already have some of them at home.
All honey has some antibacterial effect, but the active ingredient methylglyoxal (MGO) in manuka honey makes it especially potent. Applied to wounds, it provides a moist, germ-free environment to support healing. Choose a honey with a high Unique Manuka Factor (UMF), which rates its antibacterial strength.
Use it for…
Food poisoning, upset tummy. Taking a spoonful morning and night helps combat bad bacteria in the gut and promotes rehydration after vomiting or diarrhoea.
Blisters and cuts. “Leave the jar in a warm spot or in a bowl of warm water to soften, then spread a little on a wound dressing and apply, changing the dressing every 12 hours,” says Collins.
Tea tree oil
Tea tree oil has a strong antiseptic action – it is said to be 12 times more powerful than the hospital disinfectant carbolic acid. It has impressive antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal properties, making it useful for infections.
Use it for…
Athlete’s foot. Add 10 drops of tea tree oil to 30g of sorbolene cream or five drops to 20ml of carrier oil (such as almond or olive oil) and apply morning and night.
Vaginal thrush, which can flare up in humid weather. It’s not advisable to apply tea tree oil neat to this area. “Instead, add five drops of tea tree oil to 30g of sorbolene cream and apply to the affected area several times daily,” says Collins. Cuts and scrapes. Dab on sparingly to ward off infection.
Aloe vera gel
Ideal for soothing irritated skin, aloe vera contains active compounds that reduce pain and inflammation and stimulate skin growth and repair. Pick a gel with the highest percentage of pure aloe vera that you can find.
Use it for…
Sunburn and heat rash. “Apply it liberally to sunburnt skin or make a 50:50 mix of aloe and sorbolene cream with a few drops of lavender oil,” suggests Pat Collins, herbalist and author of A to Z of Ailments (www.thecentre.patcollins.com.au).
Dabbing onto blisters, cuts and scrapes, insect bites and stings.
Bicarbonate of soda
As an alkalising agent, bicarb helps relieve acid conditions such as indigestion. “It absorbs and soothes so it’s good for insect bites, and its drying effect helps athlete’s foot and body odour,” notes Collins.
Use it for…
Urinary tract infections. Take a teaspoon of bicarb soda in a glass of water every hour. “This makes urine less acidic and so stops the bacteria multiplying,” explains medical herbalist Maxine Haigh-White.
Body odour. Dust baking soda under the arms to absorb moisture and deodorise.
Sunburn, heat rash. Add half a cup of bicarb soda to a tepid bath and soak for 20 minutes – it helps ‘soften’ the water and draw the heat out of skin.
Insect bites and stings. Make a paste with warm water, apply and allow to dry.
For more of nature’s first aids pick up the December issue of Good Health magazine at magshop.co.nz.