Composed of mineral deposits, clay helps soothe the itch and sting of insect bites. Having weathered endless sunrises and sunsets, great storms, and the passing of millenia, a small amount packs a lot of healing qi, or energy. Clay is found in nature, of course, but you can also find it in powdered form at natural-foods stores and many pharmacies. There are a variety of types of clay in a range of colors -- white, blue, green, red, and pink. All are effective, but herbalists tend to prefer green or red clays; darker clays contain higher mineral content and thus more healing properties. To use, form a paste by mixing the powder with a small amount of water or peppermint tea and apply directly to the bite.
Among the most versatile household remedies, baking soda quickly eases itchiness. To use, mix a few teaspoons with a small amount of water to form a paste and apply directly to skin. If you have multiple bites or stings, try an anti-itch bath: Add 3 to 4 tablespoons of baking soda to warm bath water; soak for 15 minutes.
These concentrated oils neutralize toxicity and reduce inflammation and itchiness. Add a few drops to the clay or baking soda mixtures described on previous slides to increase their effectiveness, or apply a drop or two directly to the bite. Any of the oils can be mixed with honey (a few drops of oil to a teaspoon of honey) for additional disinfectant properties. Natural antiseptics, they can be directly applied to minor cuts and scrapes to help prevent infection.
Avoid bug bites altogether -- without resorting to harmful toxins -- with simple natural solutions. Try these ideas around the house, or, to spray on, dilute 20 drops of essential oil with 1 cup of grape-seed oil and 1 1/2 cups of purified water; shake well.
Peppermint Essential Oil or Citronella Essential Oil
Use 3 to 5 drops on windowsills, doorways, and under kitchen sink to repel ants.
Cinnamon Oil or Turmeric Oil
Spray or dab on clothing and exposed skin to deter blackflies.
Citrus Oil, Especially Kaffir Lime Oil
Spray on problem areas to avoid cockroaches.
Catnip oil or Thyme Oil
Spray or dab on clothing and exposed skin to ward off mosquitoes.
Spray or dab on clothing and exposed skin to counter ticks.
The healing plant is best for burns, scratches, and bites. Aloe creates a protective barrier on the skin that keeps it moist and promotes healing. It also stimulates the Langerhans cells, which can reduce inflammation. Slit open an aloe stalk, squeeze out some of the gel-like substance, and dab it on the skin. Aloe oxidizes quickly, so use fresh cuttings within four hours or store them in the fridge for up to 60 days.
The tiny flower calms rashes and helps soothe wounds. Renowned in France for its anti-inflammatory powers, chamomile has a strong chemical constituent that inhibits oxidative stress (from sun damage or skin conditions like hives or eczema) and is palliative on irritated skin. Chamomile water is a gentle spritzer. Place a chamomile tea bag (or a tablespoon of dried flowers) in 8 ounces of boiling water. Cool and pour into a spray bottle to spritz on skin as needed. You can also soak a clean cloth in the tea to make a compress.
When cold, cucumber retains its temperature and keeps skin cooler longer, helping to reduce swelling. Make juice for skin by roughly chopping a cucumber, liquefying it in the blender, and straining out the solids. Dab it on your face to de-puff, or throw one to two cups into your bathwater.
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