The season's blazing sun, mountain trails, and tempting waters offer advetrues galore. Maximize your fun -- and minimize your health risks -- with our best natural solutions for summertime ailments.
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With its anti-inflammatory effects, aloe vera is your best salve for sunburn pain. Squeeze the amino-acid-rich gel directly from the plant, or apply a product containing 95 percent to 100 percent pure aloe vera, says Stengler. For a skin-cooling soak, combine a cup of powdered milk with 10 drops of lavender essential oil, says Hart. Shake the ingredients in a jar and let sit for a day before pouring into lukewarm bath water.
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Seek out a natural antihistamine such as quercetin, a type of antioxidant found in onions and citrus fruits. Available in supplement form, 1,000 mg of quercetin taken three times daily throughout the season should help you stay symptom free. Other ideas: Pack a thermos of nettle tea (another natural antihistamine). Cutting back on dairy may also help reduce congestion and sinus-pressure headaches.
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Don't skimp on the sunscreen. Slather on enough SPF of 30 lotion to fill a shot glass, reapplying every couple of hours that you spend outside. And when purchasing sunscreen, check the ingredients list for zinc oxide, a shield against both UVA and UVB rays. Once you're out of the sun, rub in some borage oil, a rich source of gamma-linoleic fatty acid, to help protect against sun-related aging. But don't use it as a substitute for sunscreen.
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An infusion of black tea and fresh mint makes a fragrant sunburn soother.
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Eucalyptus is all powerful in breaking up the congestion that accompanies summer colds. Three times a day, fill a bowl with steamy-hot water and add one drop of essential oil of Eucalyptus globulus. Cover your head with a towel, lean in, and breathe deeply for one minute. Keep your eyes closed for the whole treatment. For cold relief, try the immune-boosting herb andrographis.
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On especially sweltering days, prevent heatstroke by staying hydrated, avoiding diuretics such as alcohol and caffeine, and spending most of your time in the shade or the water, or in a cool indoor space. Although heatstroke must be treated with medical attention, you can stimulate recovery by taking two 30C-strength pellets of the homeopathic remedy natrum muriaticum (shown above) four times daily.
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Indulged in one too many servings of ambrosia salad? Unburden your belly by drinking a cup of chamomile tea or chewing on fennel seeds. Both natural remedies act as carminatives to aid digestion and dispel gas from the stomach.
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New sandals or hiking boots can rub you the wrong way. Tamanu oil, a botanical extract, helps blisters heal fast and infection-free. Apply a drop or two of the oil directly to your blister, cover it up with a bandage, and try to avoid chafing.
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When sticky weather brings on a heat rash, cool off with a lavender essential oil and aloe vera fusion. Try mixing a half-ounce of aloe vera gel with five drops of oil and applying it to the skin. The mixture is anti-inflammatory, so it reduces the redness and heat of the rash. Massaging in some calendula salve can have a similar hydrating, calming effect.
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Eating juicy foods like mango and watermelon can up your dehydration defense. Try to drink eight glasses of water daily, especially if you're active. And if you're on a major hiking trek or biking excursion, don't skip the salt: Since sweating can disturb your sodium-water balance, replenish by snacking on salty foods like tamari almonds. To speed recovery if you do feel dehydrated, Stengler, recommends taking two pellets of homeopathic china officinalis (at 30C strength).
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As you're wandering the globe this season, steer clear of food-borne illness by getting your daily fill of garlic (in food or capsule form) and probiotics (through yogurt or acidophilus supplements). Garlic provides antibacterial action, and probiotics build up your gut's beneficial bugs to counter harmful bacteria. If you do end up with a queasy stomach, taking an activated-charcoal supplement can help absorb the toxins and restore your digestive health.
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To treat bee stings and mosquito bites, apply a paste made from baking soda and water. The combo can neutralize the bug's venom, so take five pellets of homeopathic apis (at 30C strength) three times daily until the itchiness subsides. And a drop of lavender essential oil applied to the bite can take out the itch and sting.
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Campers, backpackers, and other outdoorsy types can steer clear of poison ivy, oak, and sumac by knowing how to identify each plant: Poison ivy typically has a woody, ropelike vine and three leaflets that turn green in the summer; poison oak shows off clusters of yellow berries and oaklike leaves (usually in clusters of three); and poison sumac is a rangy shrub that grows up to 15 feet tall, with seven to 13 smooth-edge leaflets. The sap of all three plants contains urushiol, a chemical that triggers rashes, blisters, and itching. If you do brush up against one of these plants, try a cool or lukewarm bath in oatmeal-powder-infused water. Taking two pellets of homeopathic rhus toxicodendron (at 30C strength) daily can also alleviate symptoms.