by Liam McClintock, ND, MAcOM
plague many people during the year, but especially during the summer months.
Molds, pollens, and insect bites are allergens that can be more prevalent in
warm and wet weather. Avoiding some other known sensitivities, such as
identified problem foods or certain animals can lessen a person’s
response to other unavoidable allergens. Natural supplements that can reduce
the histamine response in individuals include antioxidants (such as vitamin C
and grape seed extract), bioflavinoids (such as quercitin and hesperidin) and
specific homeopathic medicines (based on a total symptom picture). If a person
has severe reactions, they should never be without the necessary medications to
prevent a life-threatening crisis.
Bruises, scrapes, and minor cuts
can be effectively treated with homeopathic
Traumeel or Traumed (made by BHI – Heel) to speed healing time. Arnica
oil can be applied to bruises, but should not be applied to open wounds.
Calendula cream is best applied to clean open wounds, and homeopathic Hypericum
can alleviate the pain associated with puncture wounds or injuries in
nerve-rich areas (such as fingers and toes). For any wounds that break the
skin, one should thoroughly wash them and consider updating Tetanus
vaccinations if they have not been received in the last 5 years.
can be avoided by taking the necessary precautions to wear
protective clothing and netting. Bug sprays and lotions can be effective if
applied frequently to exposed skin. If you question the toxicity of the
ingredient DEET (N, N diethyl tolumide), especially when applied to young
children who tend to put everything in the mouth, natural bug repellant may
contain ingredients such as citronella, pennyroyal, and eucalyptus. Itching
bites can be treated with Sting-Stop lotion (made by Boerike & Tafel) or
with homeopathic Ledum. I have repeatedly seen swollen lymph nodes from an
insect bite disappear rapidly after homeopathic Ledum is taken, though such
infections should be monitored by a health practitioner. Some of the most
potentially harmful insect bites in our region are from spiders and ticks. If
one sees significant local bruising in an area, with no known trauma, or a
sudden spike in fever, it is best to get checked for possible lyme disease.
Since the lyme vaccine is still undergoing safety studies (Reuters Health,
Feb. 1, 2001), and a recent study showed no efficacy for antibiotic use after
the infection is chronic (NEJM, July 11, 2001), catching the infection
early is still the best treatment.
We are all familiar with Poison Ivy, but Brown Tail Moth Caterpillars
are a more recent plague that can also cause severe discomfort to those who are
sensitive. Avoiding contact with the plants and little critter’s hairs,
and washing skin thoroughly after being around them, will reduce the itching.
Wearing a dust mask or respirator while trimming trees or mowing lawns can
reduce respiratory problems as a result of airborne toxins. Severe afflictions
should be treated and monitored professionally, but minor rashes may be treated
with homeopathic Rhus toxicodendron or Anacardium orientale (if the itching is
relieved by bathing in very warm water), homeopathic Clematis erecta (if the
itching is worse from bathing), homeopathic Croton tiglium (if the rash is
crusty and painful or feels tight), or Histaminum (for a generalized reaction).
Bathing in water that has been run through a porous sack of oatmeal or with
oatmeal soap can temporarily relieve the itching. I am told that if we can
endure approximately two more years of the caterpillars, they will be on the
downturn in their cycle for another generation.
Sunburn is best prevented with sunscreen lotion or appropriate clothing. Women who are
pregnant or who have had estrogen-positive cancers should avoid the more common
sunscreens since, according to a recent study, they can act like the hormone
estrogen in the body (Environ. Health Perspect 109: 239-244, 2001). Sun
creams that do not penetrate the skin include titanium dioxide and zinc oxide.
Sunburns respond well to cool Aloe Vera gel and Comfrey applied frequently to
clean skin. Vitamin C cream can help reduce the damage that repeated sun
exposure does to the skin.
Spoiled food is another summer plague about which people do not often think. Any
non-dried food left in the heat or direct sun can spoil rapidly, causing
uncomfortable gastrointestinal symptoms if eaten. Cleaning hands before and
after handling foods is essential. The best rule of thumb is “If in
doubt, throw it out.”
Summer is an opportunity to enjoy the
long days and warm weather. I hope that these few simple tips will help to
ensure a safe and comfortable time as well.