Summer's Natural Medicine Chest

News Note

By Lara Evans Bracciante

Originally published in the June/July 2004 issue of Massage & Bodywork magazine.

Summer has arrived, meaning everyone’s spending more time outdoors hiking, biking, swimming, gardening, and traveling. However, sunburn, bug bites, and motion sickness often go hand-in-hand with these seasonal activities. Below are several natural remedies to help ease those acute issues and get on with enjoying the pleasures of summertime.


Aloe (Aloe vera), applied topically, is a pain-relieving anti-inflammatory that penetrates to injured tissue and soothes the skin.

Lavender (Lavendula officinalis) is an excellent antibacterial agent in enhancing the wound-healing process and reducing scarring, especially in the case of minor burns. Use topically.

St. John's wort (Hypericum perforatum), the popular herb for easing minor depression, is also beneficial when applied topically. Its antibacterial, anti-inflammatory properties enhance healing.

Vitamins C and E, when applied topically, may help mediate the effects of free radicals caused by UV exposure. Vitamin C has shown promise in healing sunburned skin, and both vitamins C and E have displayed preventive properties when applied prior to sun exposure.

Insect Bites and Stings

In the case of a sting, carefully extract the stinger with sterilized tweezers. If you experience swelling of the neck or tongue or have difficulty breathing, seek medical attention immediately.

Tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia) oil is an effective topical antiseptic. While fighting bacteria, tea tree soothes the skin and speeds recovery.

Homeopathic remedies are also effective in treating the inevitable attacks of summer pests. If the skin surrounding the sting or bite becomes inflamed, use Apis, derived from honey bee (Apis mellifica). If the skin appears bruised or is painful, use Ledum, derived from wild rosemary (Ledum palustre).

Lavender (Lavendula officinalis), an antitoxin and antivenom, eases itching and soothes skin. Dab a few drops of lavender oil on the site.

Aloe (Aloe vera) with its anti-inflammatory and cooling properties takes the itch out of insect bites and eases the affected area.

Motion Sickness

Ginger (Zingiber officinale) is an age-old antiemetic to ease nausea. Taken in capsule, tea, or crystallized ginger form, this heady root should be consumed during the first few hours of travel.

Peppermint (Mentha piperita) quells stomach upset while traveling. Try dabbing essential oils of peppermint and ginger on a tissue and inhale before and during your trip.

Activated charcoal tablets or capsules taken several hours before traveling can alleviate motion sickness. However, too much can cause malabsorption and constipation, so check label for recommended dosage.