Now that you understand the many health benefits of regular moderate sun exposure from our previous blog, what happens if you end up sun burned anyway? Are there natural ways to limit the damage and encourage faster healing?
Yes, the purpose of this blog is to show you some of the most effective natural herbs to soothe and calm the skin, help it to heal faster, and to reduce long-term damage.
1. Aloe vera
Long known as the 'burn plant', the juice and oil from the aloe vera plant have been effectively used to treat burns, wounds and skin irritations for centuries. This effectiveness comes courtesy of its natural components - almost 20 amino acids, minerals like calcium, magnesium and sodium; enzymes; polysaccharides and more. It penetrates quickly and deeply, moisturizing and nourishing at the lower levels of skin. These properties also make aloe a great ally in reducing the visible effects of aging.
If you are lucky to have a local aloe plant, simply slice off a branch, open it with a knife, scoop out the gel, mash it well and apply it directly to the burned skin. Immediate relief! In fact, if you apply it in its purest form, sometimes the burn may disappear entirely.
Like Aloe vera, cucumber naturally cools and calms skin after a burn. It contains vitamin C and caffeic acid, which help reduce swelling. Simply refrigerate a fresh, preferably organic cucumber, cut into slices and place directly on the skin.
You can also blend cucumber slices with aloe vera juice or oil for a doubly powerful sunburn treat!
3. Green tea
Green tea contains powerful antioxidants called catechins, which protect cells and DNA from free radical damage. As result, when applied externally as a powdered extract, or when taken as a drink, it may help promote wound healing and skin regeneration.
In several scientific studies, green tea extract was shown to neutralize damage from exposure to UV rays.
For example, a 2000 study by Case Western Reserve University (ref 1) showed that green tea protects against sunburn. Volunteers had green tea extract applied to the skin on their buttocks, which was then exposed to solar radiation. At a concentration level of 4 milligrams per 2.5 cm square of skin area, the subjects obtained complete protection from sunburn. Some protection was observed at lower concentrations down to 1 milligram per cm square of skin area.
A 2007 study conducted in the UK revealed that those who drank two or more cups per day of green tea had a 65% lower risk of developing squamous cell carcinoma. Interestingly, the same study noted that drinking tea with lemon boosts its anti-cancer properties.
4. Tamanu Oil
Tamanu oil is well studied for its anti-inflammatory skin healing properties especially when applied immediately to burns and sun damage. The oil causes the rapid formation of new, healthy skin tissue. Some claim that it turns red skin into tanned skin overnight!
Like Tamil oil, comfrey is known as a “cell proliferate,” which means it stimulates cells to regenerate, and repairs damage from UV rays. You can make a strong tea of comfrey and use a cotton ball to swab it on the sunburn several times per day. Or, try making a poultice out of boiled comfrey leaves.
Calendula (oil) has anti-oxidant, antiseptic, antibacterial and anti-fungal properties. This helps to soothe burns, especially sun burns, prevent infections and encourages scabbing formation to help wounds heal. Tinctures, ointments, and washes made with calendula encourage healing, ease bruising and help treat infections associated with wounds. This also means calendula effectively helps to treat insect bites and stings.
Plantain contains allantoin which is a natural anti-inflammatory. This helps to soothe and heal flushed skin, and it also may deter itchiness as the sunburn starts to heal.
You can make a poultice out of the leaves and apply directly to skin, or mix with green tea and aloe vera juice and apply with a cotton ball. Add a little honey and baking soda for more healing and calming benefits.
Turmeric is a powerful antioxidant and anti-inflammatory. Mix fresh or organic turmeric powder with virgin coconut oil and apply it directly to the burned area.
Please try to use fresh or organic forms of these herbs if possible. Store bought herbs may have been sitting in plastic or glass containers for a long time, and contain traces of preservatives and heavy metals, as well as other ‘unsavory contaminants’.
In fact a research report by the FDA (ref 2) showed how roughly 12% of all imported herbs and spices are contaminated. The FDA’s testing showed that these contaminants can include things like whole insects, hair, feces and salmonella.
So next time you get a burn or sun burn, please consider the above natural ways to help heal damaged skin, before buying store-bought lotions which may irritate the problem more. Your body will thank you!
We hope that these two blogs have helped to dispel the hype about sun exposure, as well as to guide you should you get sun burned.
Ultimately, as with many matters of your personal health and well-being, you are your best Doctor.
You don’t need media hype to tell you that you shouldn’t feel great when enjoying some moderate regular sun. Because the fact is who doesn’t feel energized and happy?
As always, we welcome your thoughts.
- Case Western Reserve University study on green tea reported by Clinical Cancer Research http://clincancerres.aacrjournals.org/content/6/10/3864.long
- FDA report on contaminated imported herbs and spiceshttp://www.fda.gov/downloads/Food/FoodScienceResearch/RiskSafetyAssessment/UCM367337.pdf
- Warren Matthew’ s views on why we don’t use an SPF factor in our skin care products