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Sunburn Happens: Natural Sunburn Relief

Beach boy[This is a guest post by herbalist Steven Frank]

Even though it has just turned to spring here in the Rocky Mountains, I was out looking at boats and couldn’t help but think about how summer is coming. The sun is getting higher in the sky, the average temperature is creeping up and summer will be here before we know it.

Every summer, the same thing confounds me. There is a balance that must be struck between getting enough sun to have healthy skin (we need to make vitamin D) and getting too much sun wherein we’ll burn. What most people don’t realize is that the sunscreen lotion takes 10 to 20 minutes before reaching full effectiveness. Then it remains effective for only about 2 hours. It must be replenished every couple of hours even if it doesn’t get washed off in the pool or lake. If it gets washed off, then it must be reapplied sooner.

So every summer, I see moms and dads dutifully coating their kids with sunscreen (while holding them by the arm so that don’t run off) and then turning them loose to play for hours. Invariably, they come back burned. Yes, sunburn happens. It happens every summer on every beach at every pool and in every backyard. It’s not because the parents don’t coat their kids, it happens because they don’t understand how to properly use sunscreen.

What do you do after your kids get sunburned or your husband (who refuses to apply it to the tops of his feet) comes back at the end of the day with lobster –feet?. You know that it’s going to happen. That’s why you buy Aloe Vera gel.

The problem here is that by evening, rubbing Aloe Vera on this sensitive skin is going to hurt. It hurts just to touch. Also, while Aloe Vera feels cooling at first, it doesn’t really satisfy the long term pain relieving requirements that one needs met in order to get in bed and go to sleep. Who ever would have thought how much those soft cotton sheets could hurt? Additionally, the next day the pain will turn into a crazy itch that demands that you scratch that sensitive skin and then the skin will start to peel and fall off. This predictable process plays out millions of times every summer: sun, redness, pain, itch, and peeling.

As an herbalist, I looked at these symptoms and thought, “Gee, I can put together a decoction of herbs that will deal with all these issues.” So, I did. Maui Aui (pronounced Mawie Owie and named after the Island of Maui) was born.

Of course you can make this at home too. It uses some very common herbs that you can find locally. For starters, it uses Arnica Montana and White Willow bark. These two herbs provide the analgesic (pain relieving) properties that make such a difference for the first day. Then, Calendula and Comfrey are considered cell proliferants. These two herbs will actually accelerate the rate at which new skin cells are made to replace the ones that were damaged by the sun. The Calendula is also very soothing to damaged skin. Lavender and St. John’s Wort are nervines. They will get the nerves to settle-down and this is what relieves the itch that occurs on days two and three after the sunburn. They will really relieve most any itch, including mosquito bites.

I prepare a decoction of these herbs by putting them in hot water (DO NOT BOIL THEM). Boiling herbs causes a breakdown in some of the delicate vital constituents. Most herbs cannot tolerate temperatures above 170 deg. F without some loss of quality.

After it has cooled down, put an Aloe Vera concentrate into the decoction.

Now here’s the trick. There are a couple of oils that are very helpful in treating sunburn. Kukui Nut, Macadamia Nut and Soy Bean oil are my favorites. These oils will seal moisture into the skin and keep it from drying out too badly while the healing process is occurring. I like to combine the oils with a little bit of an emulsifier to get them to disperse in the water decoction. You can use polysorbate 20, which is a sugar derivative that is commonly used in foods. You can even use lecithin can be found in the baking section of most supermarkets.

If you put this creation into a spray bottle, you don’t even have to touch the sensitive skin. Spraying this mixture onto sunburn cools the area by evaporation and the kids love that cooling feeling. Then, the herbs get rid of the pain, the itch and encourage rapid healing of the damaged tissues. My kids usually return every couple of hours to have the area sprayed again. You can re-spray as often as you like.

I think that this is the best that you can do when sunburn happens. As always, I’ve told you how to make it and would take great joy in knowing that I’ve made your summer a little better. If you don’t want to be troubled with making it, you can find it on my web site. Just search for Maui Aui.

Best of Health,
Steven Frank

[Mr. Steven Frank is an innovative herbalist. He uses a myriad of techniques drawn from North American herbology, Holistic philosophy and Natural medial practices to solve difficult but common maladies. Since his roots come from engineering and the practical sciences, Mr. Frank requires his remedies to prove efficacy by the highest standards of scientific testing. Years of self-study focused on the works of great scientists and healers of the past have provided Mr. Frank with the tools that he needs to synthesize well-rounded solutions to today’s difficult healing requirements. Blending the insights of historical remedies into solutions that address the cause, relieve the symptoms and support the body in its tendency to recover, guide the products that Mr. Frank develops towards being truly balanced holistic solutions.]

More of Mr. Frank’s products can be seen at www.NaturesRiteRemedies.com. He can be reached for comment at stevef@NaturesRiteRemedies.com

Image: emrank at Flickr

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6 Responses to Sunburn Happens: Natural Sunburn Relief

  1. Hi. I loved the article on helping the sunburn. But what about the sunscreen we are applying to our children? I see so many parents using sunscreen w carcinogens in them. Any recommendations?

    • At our house, we prefer to keep our kid’s bodies out of direct exposure to the sun during the intense parts of the day by having them wear a sunhat and long sleeves if possible. We do use sunscreen sparingly, but are very particular about what kind we use. I’ve found this report from EWG to be the best resource for determining the safest kinds: http://www.ewg.org/whichsunscreensarebest/2009report.

  2. Excellent article!

    Make sure that the aloe you use is certified organic to make sure it hasn’t been preserved with parabens.

    Also, it’s really important to protect your skin with antioxidants. Antioxidants can help make sure your skin cells are healthy. Healthy skin cells are less likely to burn…or to burn as fast. And if they do burn may heal faster. Make sure it’s a high ORAC unit antioxidant.

    I usually love the EWG lists, but I do not like their sunscreen list. They list sunscreens with dangerous ingredients like oxybenzone & titanium dioxide above truly natural and safe sunscreens. When you use sunscreens with dangerous ingredients you are essentially trading one cancer for another.

    I only use suncreens with zinc oxide. Zinc is the only sunscreen that’s safe. It’s been used safely for hundreds of years. Titanium dioxide, while it is natural is not safe. It is most often used as nano particles which more and more studies are showing to be dangerous. Even when it’s not nano, it is photo sensitive and causes DNA damage when exposed to the sun. Not a good trait for a sunscreen.

    The only product I will use on my daughter is Miessence. It nourishes the skin and protects it at the same time. It’s registered by the Biological Farmers of Australia which means it contains (excluding water and salt) at least 70% organically produced agricultural ingredients. Any remaining can be non-agricultural substances (eg, clay, bicarb soda, minerals) or non-organically produced agricultural ingredients, with strict processing criteria (eg. absolutely no GMOs or synthetics chemicals). In Miessence every ingredient that can be certified organic, is!

    http://yourorglife.mionegroup.com/en/product/13430

    Oh, and one other thing about sunscreens…no matter what brand you use, do not keep them in your car. The heat breaks them down and makes them less effective.

  3. The only product I will use on my daughter is Miessence. It nourishes the skin and protects it at the same time. It’s registered by the Biological Farmers of Australia which means it contains (excluding water and salt) at least 70% organically produced agricultural ingredients. Any remaining can be non-agricultural substances (eg, clay, bicarb soda, minerals) or non-organically produced agricultural ingredients, with strict processing criteria (eg. absolutely no GMOs or synthetics chemicals). In Miessence every ingredient that can be certified organic, is!
    +1

  4. Also with summer coming on make sure you have or are taking borogluconate as part of any vitamin supplementation. Boron can absorb radiation and reduce the chances of getting a sun burn.

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