by Gretchen Fox Schempp
We’re in the thick of it now. Summer. The little buggies are in full bloom and unless you are armed, you may be getting snacked upon. Each season poses its own obstacles, but with the right supplies you can sail through and continue to have a great time. Summer should have its very own first aid kit. There are many simple items to stock your first aid kit or bathroom that have multiple uses. From anti-fungals, bug repellents, sun protection, bite treatments, bumps, bruises, aches and pains, we have all the goods you need to stay protected or soothe the damage done.
A first must have for my summer kit is Rose Geranium, also known as simply Geranium or Pelargoium graveolens, essential oil. The oil works particularly well against ticks (Lyme’s Disease), and I use it whenever I am out in the yard or the woods. I will put two drops on my neck and a few more on my ankles or pant legs. Geranium oil also helps repel mosquitoes, fleas and other pests. My dogs all get a few drops of geranium on their necks once a week as well. However, it should be noted that essential oils are not safe to use on cats.
Geraniol, which is a powerful ingredient extracted from Geranium oil, is the main ingredient in our best selling Bugband Insect Repellent lotion. According to lab and field studies done by the University of Florida, Gainsville, geraniol has been proven effective in repelling many insects, including: mosquitoes, ticks, fleas, cockroaches, fire ants, flies and no see ums.
Neem oil is the next item to add to the kit. Neem oil is a vegetable oil pressed from the seeds and fruit of neem, an evergreen indigenous to India and South Asia. It has been shown in studies to have anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antiseptic and anti-fungal properties. Neem is also getting a lot of attention for being a good insect repellent. We carry neem in its pure form, which can be used directly on the skin, undiluted, or can be mixed with other ingredients to make many useful concoctions. For a double duty insect repellent mix 10 drops of geranium oil with a tablespoon of neem oil and apply as needed. Additionally, we carry a lotion spray by Keys that is neem based and can be used as a healing lotion for bites, poison ivy, oak, and existing skin conditions or as an insect repellent.
A few homeopathic remedies to have on hand for insect bites include:
apis mellifica – take this remedy promptly after a bite to help prevent severe swelling.
Ledum palustre – take this remedy for bites or stings promptly to prevent rashes, stiffness and swelling. These two homeopathic remedies can be used, in smaller doses, on cats and dogs as well.
Coconut oil is a must have in my home at all times. I think I’ve written about it in every season of this publication! Coconut oil is soothing, healing, luxurious and diverse in its many uses. A few of my favorite uses for coconut oil are as a moisturizer and an anti fungal.
Coconut oil is said to offer natural sun protection while fighting free radicals, which may provide added protection against skin cancer. However, there is no rating for the sun protection factor of coconut oil. Another use for coconut oil is for vaginal yeast infections, ringworm, athlete’s foot and thrush. Coconut oil can be used topically or internally for any of these conditions. It also can be applied to cuts and scrapes to help prevent infection, promote healing and may also prevent scarring. Coconut oil also makes a great carrier for essential oils.
When the hard work catches up with your body make sure you have some arnica to take internally or to use topically. Arnica (arnica montana) is a perennial that grows 1’-2’ with yellow orange flowers similar to daisies. It is native to Europe and Siberia and is cultivated in North America. It has been used since the 1500’s for medicinal purposes and remains popular today. It is often used as the first remedy for injuries such as sprains and bruises. Arnica is also used to soothe muscle aches, reduce inflammation and heal wounds. We have many options for purchase in arnica products. Look for homeopathic pellets or tablets to be taken internally or find homeopathic or herbal arnica gels and salves to apply topically.
Lavender essential oil is easy to have on hand at any time and has many uses. I like to apply 1 or 2 drops of lavender oil neet (undiluted) to insect bites to reduce inflammation, itching and redness. It also serves as a reliable acne treatment for many. Mixed in water and spritzed on the skin it can offer relief from burns and skin irritations. Applied to the bottom of the feet it has calming and sleep inducing properties. Lavender hydrosol, which is a by-product of the making of lavender essential oil, is very healing to the skin and has a lighter scent than the oil itself. Remember, essential oils are highly concentrated and only some are safe to use undiluted on skin and even then use in small amounts.
For the outdoor woman check out Krista’s P-style. This “stand-to-pee” device is ideal for sports and recreation, physical restrictions, outdoor occupations, public events and travel. It can be used while clothed, eliminates the need for toilet paper, is reusable and easy to clean.
A few of my favorite resources this year for insect bite first aid and tick removal are The Prescription for Nutritional Healing by Phyllis Balch and The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy by Valerie Ann Worwood.
Have a safe and healthy summer.