"Sunny Fun Summer"
by Dr. Karyn Mitchell N.D.
by Dr. Karyn Mitchell N.D.
One of the questions most people ask concerns protection from excessive sun exposure and insects. Let’s start with the bugs. There is a great essential oil of Lemon Eucalyptus that works as well as if not better than DEET to discourage insects. Unless you have a sensitivity to scents in general, it is free of side effects. Years ago when I was researching DEET, I discovered that it caused severe brain damage in the rats that it was tested on. I wondered then, as I do now, how it was allowed to migrate from the laboratory to store shelves given the possible negative side effects. Unfortunately, I am sure that at many events this summer, less informed parents will be spraying their children with this toxic repellent. At least one major company that manufactures products with DEET (“Repel”) has an herbal product called “Lemon Eucalyptus” spray that is DEET free. It is successful against deer ticks, no-see-ums, and mosquitoes. It is available at REI and Target. While it does not smell so appealing as one might expect, the essential oil itself can be blended sparingly with an organic cream and applied to the skin. A company called Herbaria has a blend of Lemon Eucalyptus and Citronella to dissuade ticks, chiggers, and mosquitoes called “Citronella Mist.” See www.herbariasoap.com for more information. Please keep in mind that there are homeopathic remedies to assist with tick bites including Lyme disease.
Another consideration that has been successful for me in the past is a homeopathic remedy called Ledum. The 10-30X or 30C remedy can be taken orally ten minutes prior to hiking or playing outdoors as a possible preventative measure. If you forget to take it, you may use another popular remedy called Apis after you have been victimized by stinging or biting bugs. Topical gel of Sting Stop is is also very soothing to apply to the wound in these cases. A daily dose of B vitamins as been reported to discourage mosquitoes. In discussing homeopathic remedies, those little pellets or tablets have been used since the 1700’s to treat people who have been stung, bitten, or assaulted by any number of voracious creatures including snakes, spiders, ticks, fleas, and poisonous plants.
We should embrace nature as the gift that it is to us, and that includes playing in and enjoying the summer sun. As one little patient said to me just a week ago, “have a sunny fun summer.” If you feel that a sunscreen in necessary, I would definitely recommend one that is “paraben” free. If you see that word in any form, anywhere in a potential product purchase, I would avoid such products. It has been identified as a possible carcinogen but it still remains on the market. According to the Environmental Working Group, a not for profit research organization, the FDA is not doing its job to protect the American public from “sunscam.” EWG found that 85% of all sunscreen products with SPF rating of 15 or higher offer inadequate protection from UV rays or have ingredients that are either known health hazards or have not been tested at all for safety. This report is available at www.ewg.org/sunscreen/report/executive-summary/. Leading brands were identified as the worst offenders. One in 144 products from Coppertone, Neutrogena and Banana Boat (the world’s 3 largest manufacturers of skin products) was recommended as safe by the EWG. Badger Sunscreen SPF 30 was found to be among the best in safety and effectiveness. Bert’s Bees products were also among those listed as safe to use. Better than slathering anything on our delicate skin, as an adult, I would put on a long sleeved, white shirt, slacks, and a cap to protect myself from prolonged exposure to the sun. Most people are not aware that trans-dermal uptake of toxins can come directly through the epidermis and pollute the blood stream.
When it comes to weeds, the ancient herbal tradition assures us that any noxious weed has its personal antidote nearby. For example, the antidote for stinging nettle is plantain or the juice of the stem of the plant itself. Jewel weed is the remedy for poison ivy. It is always found in the proximity of poison ivy. We also have the homeopathic remedies of “Rusto” or “Rhus tox” for stinging plants that cause itchy skin or even Apis mellifica that is also useful for bee or insect stings.
Enjoy the best summer has to offer! Have a sunny fun summer, and be well.