The sun is out!

Idaho is blessed with long, sunny days, wonderful mountains, rivers, forests and deserts.  A playground for those who love to be outside.  However, with Idaho’s dry climate and high elevation, it’s easy to get  scorched.  Getting sun is good, it’s the best source of vitamin D–so get out there, just start in small steps and be aware that you can still burn in little time even on overcast days.

Having a fair-skinned, freckled daughter who loves to be outside has helped me become even more aware of the sun’s power and how quickly it can damage us.  Here are a few tips.

First–Protect

Use a quality sunscreen

The EWG (Enviromental Working Group) puts together a fabulous database covering most sunscreens.  Easy way to find out what products are toxin free and environmentally friendly or if it’s safer to just leave the stuff off your skin.

Get oily

Many natural oils possess SPF.  Red raspberry seed oil has a natural SPF of 28-48. Carrot seed oil has a natural SPF of 38-40, etc. You can find a list here.  Personally, I haven’t experimented enough with these oils, or know of others who have, to feel fully comfortable spending a + 100° day in it–yet.  But, I see no reason to not believe that these natural oils do supply SPF…time for some gentle testing to see what happens.

Stay hydrated

Drink plenty of water.  Room temperature or cool water is easier for the system to absorb.  I know–ice is nice–but it makes the body work hard (creating heat) to warm it enough to absorb it. You will quench your thirst faster, without freezing your throat, with room temperature water. Try and keep iced and frozen drinks to a minimum.  Add slices of lemon, cucumber and mint to water to replenish electrolytes lost through sweat.

Dress for the part

Even if you plan on being at the beach all day, take closes so that you can cover up from time to time.  Wear hats, gauzy shirts and dresses, and get under a shady tree or umbrella to give yourself a break from time to time.

Second–Replenish and nourish after time in the sun

Aloe Gel and juice

It’s a wonderful plant, with many uses from burns to cuts and bee stings.  I highly recommend getting one, I have several living about my house and office and they get some regular use.  Even people without green thumbs can grow them.  Aloe gel or juice applied directly to sunburns or sun damaged skin regenerates and re-hydrates the tissue while easing pain.  Many aloe drinks have hit the market too, some are great, some are loaded with extra sugar so read your labels.  Aloe’s lovely cold and yin nourishing nature means it helps treat interior heat and constipation.  So use a bit if you get too hot and dried.  It’s cold, so be cautious if you have cold patterns and loose stools.

Lavender and chamomile spritzer

Lavender and chamomile both protect and heal the skin. Combine 1 cup of aloe juice with 10 drops each of lavender, chamomile, and rosemary essential oil.  Keep chilled and spritz onto sunburned areas to sooth and relieve inflammation.

Vinegar

Add a 1 1/2-2 cups apple cider or white vinegar to a cool bath to ease over-worked muscles or sun-tired skin.   Soak for about 20 minutes.  No, you won’t smell like a salad all night long.  Vinegar’s smell dissipates quickly.

Time for a Spot of Tea

Black pekoe tea is works wonders when applied directly to burnt skin.  Don’t use hot–ouch.  Use a cool or cold tea bag and apply directly to the burn use as often as needed.  If your burnt all over, make up a large batch and use gauze to distribute the tea or toss 6 bags into your bath.

Eat lightly

If you are getting too hot or spending too much time in the sun watch out for heavy, greasy & fried foods, too many meats, dairy or lots of processed and sugary foods.  They  will cause the body to generate extra heat while trying to digest them.  Keep to the lighter fare of salads, berries, melons, lots of vegetables and water.

Third–Treat for burns and sun sickness if necessary

Chamomile, cucumber and aloe cleansing rinse

The last thing you want on a burn is soaps with heavy chemicals or astringents in them–ouch.  This simple little recipe is soothing, cleansing and moistening for even the most sensitive skin.   No chamomile in your yard? No worries, brew 1 cup strong tea.  Keep the tea bag and cool to place over sun-tired eyes.

2 T. fresh chamomile flowers or 1 T. dried chamomile

1 cup spring or filtered water

2 T. cucumber juice

2 T. aloe vera gel

Make a strong infusion of the chamomile in the spring water (or brew up tea from tea bags). Strain off any solids. Mix together tea, juice and gel.  To apply, saturate a soft cloth and run gently over your skin.  Store in the refrigerator and use as desired.

Herbs for bath

Mint, lemon balm, lavender, chamomile, hibiscus, rosemary and roses are all very helpful for soothing burned and tired skin.  Add a few of your favorites to a cool–not cold–bath.  All of these herbs make wonderful and refreshing teas, as well. But brew your baths and teas separately, though.

Treat Summer Heat

What western medicine calls heat stroke, the Chinese medicine practitioner calls extreme Summer Heat invasion. Summer heat, one of the 6 Exterior invasions occurs most often in the summer.  However, it can invade in any season if the temperature is unseasonably hot, or you travel to an exceptionally hot environment.  Summer heat presents with fever and chills, thirst or lack of thirst, vomiting, diarrhea or constipation.   These symptoms range on a spectrum from mild to extreme.   The tongue will be red and dry or puffy and swollen. It’s a pattern of dichotomy and can be tricky to treat.   We cool and regulate, without overly chilling the body or generating more heat.  Cooling foods like melon, water, cucumbers, some vinegars, will be used to nourish Yin.  Internal herbal formulas are very helpful here.  If you are prone to summer heat, you might want to give us a call and get in and stock your formula shelves up.

Here’s to a glorious summer!

April