As I write this, the sun is streaming in through the window as our precious summer is now with us. The perfect weather for shorts, t-shirts, and lots and lots of time outside with the little ones. Of course, lots of outdoor play with the little ones doesn’t come without it’s risks, and it feels like every week I drop my two year old at nursery I need to explain another bump or graze he’s gathered during our weekend outdoor adventures!
For all the irritations that we can pick up during these summer months, I like to have a herbal first aid kit at home, filled with nature’s own remedies that can help ease discomfort and speed up the healing process.
There are so many different herbal remedies that are so easy to make at home, and I wanted to share with you some of my favourites, which are great for this time of year.
I’ve mentioned coconut oil many times before, it’s amazing for so many things. It’s great as an aftersun, can be used to help heal excema, cracked skin on your heels, and may help relieve symptoms of hay fever when rubbed onto the inside of your nose. Last summer I made a coconut, lavender and chamomile balm which you can find the recipe for here.
Echinacea is also known as a purple coneflower – it’s a prairie herb and is very pretty, and will attract lots of bees and butterflies. Many people have heard of echinacea as a great first defence for colds. It kickstarts immunity, is antimicrobial and reduces inflammation. What makes it a great addition to your summer first aid kit is that it helps to relieve the discomfort of insect bites and stings, by applying one drop to the area as required. The tincture is made from the Echinacea Purpurea plant extracted into medicinal grade alcohol. If you don’t like the idea of applying the tincture directly to your skin you can mix it in with some coconut oil, as shown in the picture.
Aromatherapy Cold Compress
Aromatherapy cold compresses are easy to make, and fantastic as first aid for insect bites, bruises and bumps. My favourite oils to use are lavender and tea tree . Lavender oil is another one that I mention time and time again, it’s the most popular, versatile and widely used of all essential oils. Tea tree is the most ‘medicinal’ of essential oils, and is a powerful anti-microbial and antiseptic. Either of these oils can also be applied neat to stings – and lavender is also a good insect repellant.
To make a cold compress, you need a bowl, some cold water, around 6 drops of your chosen essential oil (or 3 of each if you choose to use both), a clean piece of cloth (I’ve used a muslin as I have a good collection of them, but a face cloth would work just as well) and some cling-film or a towel.
Firstly fill your bowl with the cold water and add the drops of essential oil, which will spread out and make a film on top of the water. Then dip your cloth into the water so it picks up as much of the essential oil as possible. Then wring out the cloth and place onto the affected area, covering it with the cling-film. Leave the cold compress on until it reaches body temperature, so for about 5 minutes, then replace with a fresh compress until the pain has subsided.
A cold compress with lavender oil is also very helpful for headaches.
Chamomile is another well known herb, best known for it’s soothing properties. Indigo herb’s chamomile tea not only makes a wonderful soothing drink (which you may need after all these bumps and stings!) but is also great for the skin too.
Here I’ve used the muslin again to make a bath tea – great for adding to the bath after a day in the sun to soothe sun-exposed skin. Simply wrap a handful of chamomile leaves in a muslin cloth and tie with string and add to your bath as it’s running. Another way to use chamomile in the bath would be to use a chamomile flower infusion. To do this, just add 8 teaspoons of chamomile flowers into 1 litre of freshly boiled water, let steep for 10 minutes, and add to your bath.
Another great use for chamomile flowers is to make a compress, as with the compress above but using cooled chamomile flower infusion.
And of course – I mustn’t forget one of the best first aid remedies there is – kiss it better!
I hope you’re inspired to stock up on some herbal remedies for your family this summer. All of the items I’ve mentioned, and many more, are available from the lovely Indigo Herbs of Glastonbury.
This is a collaborative post with Indigo Herbs