Natural Tips for Outdoor Survival

Aloe vera: A Natural  Miracle Plant

It is difficult to find any product more natural than aloe products. If you have room in your life for just one indoor plant, make it aloe vera. The plant’s gooey gel appears to act as a mild antiseptic that soothes sunburns, mosquito bites, and skin rashes. Choose the biggest plant you can find because aloe’s potency increases with age. Or just pick up a bottle of the pure gel at a health food store.

Emergency Skin Repair

Fill one bathtub with lukewarm water. Add 2 to 3 cups of tomato juice or witch hazel, or sprinkle in 1 cup baking soda. Then lower your tender, sunburned body in for a long, healing soak. “All of these ingredients are naturally cooling, and can help speed skin recovery while soothing pain,” says Janice Cox, author of Natural Beauty for All Seasons. And don’t forget to drink lots of water. “A well-hydrated body heals much faster.”

Bug Off, Naturally

Even in the Amazon, where mosquitoes can be unbearable, it’s best to use natural bug deterrents. “We team can’t use DEET because it’s so toxic to the plants and wildlife,” says Jon Fiume, who regularly leads expeditions to the rain forest. “But the jungle grows some awfully big mosquitoes.” To fight back, Fiume and his rely on Buzz Away, by Quantum. Another DEET-free product is Herbal Armor, by All Terrain. Both use ingredients such as oils of citronella, cedarwood, and eucalyptus. “Mosquitoes may land on you,” says Fiume, “but then they fly away without biting.”

Other swat tactics:

Make yourself repellent. Take 100 mg of B-1 daily, says Donald Yance, an herbalist in Ashland, Oregon. On days you plan to be in heavily infested areas, add 2 to 3 garlic capsules (undeodorized) every 4 hours.
Create bug-free zones. Strategically arrayed bouquets of pennyroyal can ward off mosquitoes. So can a squirt of garlic-heavy Mosquito Barrier, by Garlic Research Labs.

Take the Sting Out of Poison Oak and Ivy

You’ve just bounded happily through a field before noticing—too late!—that it’s choked with poison oak. Now it’s time to run, really fast, to a shower to wash off the plants’ oils with soap. Or, if the shower is too far away, grab some sand or dirt and gently scrub any area you think may have been exposed. (Note: You might also want to make an unnatural exception here and bring a bottle of Tecnu, a drugstore gel that can prevent a rash if used 2 to 8 hours after exposure.)

If, alas, you end up developing the rash anyway, try one of the following soothing treatments developed by herbalist Donald Yance:
• Mix up a cooling, drying potion. Blend two parts Arnica Ginger Gel to one part Grindelia Sassafras Compound and one part witch hazel. Pour into a lotion bottle. Shake, and gently apply to affected areas.
• Minimize the rash. Take Quercetin (by Source Naturals), a flavonoid often recommended for allergy sufferers. Take 2 to 3 grams a day in divided doses until the rash clears. It’s even more effective when taken with 500 to 1,000 mg of vitamin C.

Invite the Good Bugs

Before leaving terra firma for destinations unknown (or known, for that matter), pack some probiotics. These good bacteria can help you fight off any new bugs that might invade your digestive system, says Elson Haas. Two more tips: Take capsules of hydro- chloric acid with meals, a “good” acid that acidifies the digestive tract, making it harder for the bad bugs to gain hold. Or try a daily dose of GastroMycin (Allergy Research), a natural disinfectant for the gut. “I never go anywhere without it,” he says.

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