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Spotlight on Natural Summer Salves
from LaCrista News, Vol. 5, Issue 3

Nature's medicine cabinet can give you easy ways to stay free of summer's stings

Summer rarely passes without insect attacks. First, wash bite or sting with soap and water and apply ice to reduce swelling and pain Then, try some home remedies to help get rid of the sting or itch.

Aloe. Discover the amazing healing properties of the aloe vera plant. Simply break open a leaf and apply the mucilage (sticky substance) to the affected area. This treatment has both an analgesic and a healing effect. (Note: If you are allergic to the aloe plant, try pure aloe liquid or gel instead of using the aloe directly from the plant.)

Ammonia. Household ammonia, which is alkaline, can counteract the acidity in bee venom and reduce its effects.

Cornstarch/Baking Soda. Make a paste of cornstarch and water and apply it to the irritated area. A mixture of baking soda and water also works well, and is especially good on bee stings. These preparations are effective because they are alkaline, which neutralizes most venoms, the majority of which are acidic.

Echinacea. Also called purple coneflower and Sampson root, echinacea is used to treat everything from snake bites to insect hites. The plant's rootscontain wound-healing properties when applied to the skin, as modern science has confirmed.

Goldenrod. The crushed leaves of goldenrod can be used to heal insect bites.The flavonoids contained in the plant help to reduce inflammation.

Grindelia. Reduce a bite's pain by soaking the leaves, stems and flowers of
the grindelia plant in boiling water. Allow to cool. Using a cloth, apply the liquid to the skin.

Lavender. Soothe insect bites with a lavender compress. Its antibacterial properties also help prevent infection.

Leeks. Apply mashed leeks, a natural antiseptic, to insect bites.

Mud. Mix up some mud and slap it on to take the sting out of insect bites.

Onion. Putting a slice onion on a mosquito bite doesn't sound soothing, but remedies that add their own "sting" may work by masking or interrupting pain signals from the original injury.

Papaya. The fruit of the papaya that contains the enzyme papain alleviates the sting and itch of many insect bites and bee stings by breaking down the venom proteins, rendering the poison harmless.

Plantain. The fleshy leaves of plantains contain mucilage, which soothes broken skin. Leaves can be crushed and applied directly to the skin to stop bleeding and pain.

Tea. Tea leaves are commonly used to soothe itchy bug bites. Tannin released by wet tea leaves neutralizes effects of many insect venoms. Brew a feverfew tea - steep two teaspoons of dried leaves in a cup of boiling water for 10 minutes and let cool. Dip a clean cloth in the tea and use it as a compress - and sip a few teaspoons, too. Cool compresses made with ginger or chamomile tea can also help to reduce the inflammation caused by a bite.

Thyme. Use crushed thyme leaves on bee stings and other insect bites for their cooling and soothing properties.

Vinegar. Unlike the venom of most insects, wasp serum is alkaline, so splash on some vinegar to end the sting.

Witch Hazel. Compresses made from witch hazel are commonly used for insect bites. The herb contains tannic acid, gallic acid and volatile oils, which soothe and help relieve the stinging and itching that come with a bite. The main ingredient in LaCrista Hydrating Toner is witch hazel, making it soothing for insect bites, bee stings, and many other skin disorders. Simply dab on to distressed area with a cotton ball.

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