As the weather is so lousy at the moment so we thought it was about time to inject a bit of summer spirit into your lives. For many people, holidays are just around the corner and we want you to have the time of your lives without spending the whole time covered in insect bites/sunburn/heat rash etc etc. Fear not – help is at hand in the form of the IHS holiday first aid kit. Some of the products below you will already have lying around the house. If not, add them to your holiday shopping list so that you can enjoy your well deserved rest unscathed!
High antioxidant foods and nutrients: Antioxidants can act as an internal sunscreen and can boost the body’s ability to handle UV irradiation without burning. Therefore they can increase the effectiveness of your sunscreen, allowing individuals to stay out in the sun up to twice as long without burning. Highly coloured fruits and vegetables tend to hold the most powerful antioxidant properties but for a holiday it is probably worth taking a high strength mixed antioxidant formula.
Lemon juice: It’s very easy to stay out in the sun longer than you ought which can quickly lead to heat exhaustion or sun stroke if you don’t have plenty of water around to keep you hydrated. A quick way to rehydrate and replenish electrolyte minerals lost in sweat is to drink a large glass of tepid water with the juice of half a lemon or 1 tbsp of apple cider vinegar added. Add a tsp or sugar and a ¼ tsp of salt, stir and drink immediately.
Neem oil: This is great in our war against insects! It can be applied to the skin as a natural insect repellant (particularly if mixed with the popular insect repellant citronella oil) or can be used directly onto a bite or sting to draw out the venom, pain and swelling. Neem can be used as often as needed.
Aloe vera gel: Cooling and healing, aloe vera soothes the inflammation of sunburn and is also useful for soothing the aggravating itch of insect bites. You can either cut leaves directly from a plant and rub the inner gel onto affected areas or purchase a good quality high strength gel or juice from a health shop.
Arnica and comfrey cream: Arnica (Arnica montana) flowers have anti-inflammatory properties so the cream is excellent for sore muscles, sprains, and bruises obtained during outdoor activities or water sports. Do not apply arnica to broken skin. Comfrey (Symphytum officinale) contains allantoin, a compound that stimulates the growth of new tissue and helps heal wounds.
Chamomile tea bags: Chamomile is well known for its relaxing properties but when the tea bags or essential oils (in an olive or almond oil base) are applied topically it is great for relieving the itching of stings and rashes. Chamomile can also relieve the inflammation associated with sunburn. Try adding chamomile flowers, teabags or essential oil to your bath if you have burnt large areas of your skin. Drinking the tea is great for helping you sleep if a change of scene disrupts your sleep pattern but is also fantastic for calming an aggravated digestive tract if rich food and too much alcohol is a holiday problem for you.
Probiotics: I wouldn’t go anywhere without a pot of high strength probiotics! Start taking these before your holiday to help keep minor stomach issues at bay whilst you are away. They will also help boost your immune system to help stave off any bugs that are going round.
Lavender essential oil: Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia) is virtually an all-purpose remedy, with sedative, anti-inflammatory and antiseptic properties. It’s helpful for anxiety, insomnia, headaches, wounds and burns. For most people, lavender essential oil can be applied directly to the skin. Add lavender and eucalyptus essential oils to a base of aloe vera gel or neem oil to produce a really soothing ointment, which can be used as frequently as needed.
Valerian: For the one in six adults who have a flying phobia, a three-hour flight can seem never-ending and worrying about the flight alone can ruin a holiday. Valerian, a herb which dampens down the brain chemical that causes anxiety and is often used to treat depression, may help.
Ginger: Another one not to leave home without. Historically used to treat stomach complaints, recent clinical trials have revealed that the active constituents of the ginger root (gingerols and shogaols) may have anti-nausea and anti-vomiting effects, which make them great for travel sickness and stomach upsets. Helping to rebalance the gastric juices, ginger soothes the stomach and can be used to maintain a healthy digestion. It is usually taken as a capsule or can be sliced and steeped in hot water to make a lovely invigorating tea.
Milk Thistle: This herb is a great one for dampening the effects of holiday hangovers, as it supports the liver by preventing the depletion of glutathione, an amino acid-like compound that is essential in aiding the body’s ability to destroy toxins and environmental pollutants. It also acts as a powerful antioxidant and helps to prevent damage from free radicals. If your liver is likely to be exposed to more toxins during your holiday, consider taking a milk thistle supplement with you.
Garlic: OK – I know, I know, not everyone likes the smell but when in Spain, Italy, France etc do as the locals do!!! Garlic is a fantastic all-rounder. It is a great antibiotic and antimicrobial, an insect repellant, is high in antioxidants and a natural blood thinner (for those worried about DVT on long haul flights). For best results it needs to be eaten raw so if you are hoping for a little holiday romance perhaps consider capsules!!
Speak to your local healthfood shop for recommendations on any of the products above. Nothing left to say except enjoy your trip!!!