Natural Health
Better living through nature


Sunburns: Everything You Need to Know

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), more than 1/3 of adults and 70 percent of children were prone to sunburns last year. Quite often we will be outside unaware of the damage the sun's rays can cause. Summer is a favorite time of the year and we all like to spend it at the beach or enjoying outdoor sports.

In the perspective article I am trying to explain the following:

1) Reason behind sunburn
2) Signs and symptoms of sunburns
3) How to prevent sunburn naturally?
4) The natural ways for sunburn relief

Reasons Behind Sunburns

In the most simple words, when your skin gets exposed to sunlight for a longer period it gets burned, eventually turning red and irritated.

According to the American Cancer Society, exposure to ultraviolet (UV) radiation is a major risk factor for most skin cancers. Sunlight is the main source of UV rays. Tanning lamps and beds are also sources of UV rays. People who get a lot of UV exposure from these sources are at greater risk for skin cancer.

Even though UV rays make up only a very small portion of the sun’s rays, they are the main cause of the sun’s damaging effects on the skin. UV rays damage the DNA of skin cells.

Types of UV Rays

  • UVA Rays: They age skin cells and damage DNA. Usually they are linked with long-term skin damage like wrinkles, which we associate with aging, and some types of skin cancers as well. Tanning beds give off large amounts of UVA and can increase the risk of skin cancer.
  • UVB Rays: They can damage skin cell's DNA directly and possess more energy when compared to UVA. UVB rays are the main cause of sunburns.
  • UVC Rays: Though they have more energy than the other two types of UV rays, they don't get through our atmosphere and, therefore, are not a cause for sunburns or skin cancer.

UV rays are stronger during the spring and summer months, and are strongest between 10am and 4pm. The amount of UV exposure a person gets depends on the strength of the rays, the length of time the skin is exposed, and whether the skin is protected with clothing or sunscreen.

 

Signs of Sunburn

  • Skin turns red
  • Burning sensation
  • Swelling and inflammation
  • Sunburn blisters
  • Weakness and dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Itching and peeling or scaling of skin

If you have fever over 102 degrees associated with burning sensation or blisters consult your doctor immediately.

Prevent Sunburn Naturally

As I already mentioned sun rays are strongest between 10am and 4pm. Sunburns are better prevented than treated.

  1. If you are unable to stay indoors during this time, pick shady spots or wear sun protective clothing. Use UV blocking sunglasses, long-sleeved cotton shirts, broad-brimmed hats, and try to cover exposed areas of skin with an umbrella.
  2. Apply coconut oil over your skin after bath. The rich antioxidants and healing properties of coconut oil can help prevent the sun's rays from harming the skin.
  3. Consume Vitamin-D rich foods such as fatty fish, like tuna, mackerel and salmon, dairy products, orange juice, soy milk, and cereals, egg yolk, cod liver oil, and cheese.
  4. Drink plenty of water, and avoid very hot water for baths and showers (if your skin is photosensitive) to keep your skin properly moisturized and protect it from the sun.

7 Ways to Natural Sunburn Relief

  1. Compresses - Apply cold compresses to your skin.
  2. Fenugreek seeds are known for their cooling properties and to cure inflammation and discomfort caused due to sunburns. Boil 2 tbsp. of fenugreek seeds in 2 cups of water. Strain and refrigerate the water for 2 hours. Wash the face or affected part with this water. It will immediately give you a cooling effect and help relieve redness.
  3. Squeeze aloe vera gel out of the leaves into a bowl. Add a few drops of lemon in the gel. Use your fingers to mix both the ingredients and apply it to the affected area(s). Keep it on for around 20 minutes before washing it off with cold water. This helps in soothing the skin and provides excellent moisture to skin.
  4. Watermelon purée is an excellent mask to cool down sunburned facial skin.
  5. Apply organic plain ghee over the affected area. Ghee in Ayurveda is an excellent remedy for pacifying aggravated Pitta. It reduces inflammation and swelling.
  6. Infuse 1 tsp. of paste of rose petals in to a cup of organic milk. This milk can be applied to affected areas to soothe your skin.
  7. Applying cucumber juice or tomato juice over your skin at bedtime is soothing to skin.

How To Deal With Fear And Anxiety Of The Future

Almost everybody worries about what will happen in the future. The prospect of not knowing if something good or bad will happen in the near future can produce a lot of fear and anxiety.

future

As a result, here is a list of techniques and suggestions on how to deal with fear of the unknown.

1. No one can predict the future with one hundred percent certainty. Even if the thing that you feared does happen there are circumstances and factors that you can’t predict which can be used to your advantage. For instance,  you are at work and you miss the deadline for a project you have been working on for the last few months. Everything you feared is coming true. Suddenly, your boss comes to your office and tells you that the deadline is extended and that he forgot to tell you the day before. This unknown factor changes everything.

2. Learn to take it one day at a time. Instead of worrying about how you will get through the rest of the week or coming months, try to focus on today. Each day can provide us with different opportunities to learn new things and that includes learning how to deal with your problems. When the time comes, hopefully you will have learned the skills to deal with your situation.

3. Use Self-Visualization. Sometimes, we can get anxious over a task that we will have to perform in the near future. When this happens, visualize yourself doing the task in your mind. For instance, you and your team have to play in the championship volleyball game in front of a large group of people in the next few days. Before the big day comes, imagine yourself playing the game in your mind.  By playing the game in your mind, you will be better prepared to perform for real when the time comes. Self-Visualization is a great way to reduce the fear and stress of a coming situation.

4. Remember to take a deep breath and try to find something to do to get your mind off of you anxieties and stresses. A person could take a walk, listen to some music, read the newspaper, watch TV, play on the computer, or do an activity that will give them a fresh perspective on things. This will distract you from your current worries.

5. One of the ways to manage your fears is to challenge your negative thinking with positive statements and realistic thinking. When encountering thoughts that make you fearful or depressed, challenge those thoughts by asking yourself questions that will maintain objectivity and common sense.

6. Worrying can make the problem even worse. All the worrying in the world will not change anything. All you can do is to do your best each day, hope for the best, and when something does happen, take it in stride. If you still have trouble dealing with anxiety of the future, then talking to a counselor or clergyman can be of great help.

How To Find A Good Mental Health Counselor

Many people have a difficult time in finding an effective mental health counselor. Just like everything in life, you have your good counselors and you have your not so great counselors. The key is to find someone that will help you solve your current mental health problems.

people

Here are a few suggestions on how to find a good mental health counselor for your mental health recovery.

1. Talk to your doctor or primary care physician. Your medical or family doctor is a great source in finding a good counselor. Explain to your doctor your problems and he or she can put you in the right direction in seeking the proper help.

2. Go to your local hospital. Your local hospital is another source you can use to find a good counselor. A hospital is also a good source of finding many different mental health programs in your area. Hospitals know a lot of good counselors and programs in your area and they can lead you in the right direction.

3. Ask your friends and relatives for advice. Use your network of friends and relatives to see if any of them know of any good counselors in your area.  Many churches and nonprofit agencies have a variety of mental health programs in your area. Asking the people who run these programs can lead you in the right direction.

4. Join a local support group. Go to a support group in your area and ask if anyone knows of a good counselor that could help you with your mental health issues.

5. Always ask for someone who has a good reputation. Remember that finding a counselor to help you depends on how you interact with the counselor and how they interact with you. It may take a couple of tries to find the right person, but do not give up. Finding a good counselor will pay off in the long run, so be persistent in finding the right person for you.

6. Always find a counselor that you can work with. The key components of having an effective mental health counselor is affordability and  the ability to effectively talk to your counselor. If you do not see any improvement in your mental health condition after a couple of months of working with your current counselor, you may want to find someone else.

The Importance Of Getting Help For Your Fears And Anxieties

Getting professional help for dealing with your persistent fears and anxieties is the single most important step in your recovery. Many people are reluctant to get the help they need for various reasons. Making excuses of not getting the treatment for your anxiety problems will not solve the problem.

dog

Here are a few reasons on why getting help for your mental health is important.

1. Getting professional help can lead to additional insights and suggestions to dealing with your stress and anxiety. A professional counselor can give you many ideas on how you can manage your fears and anxieties. This is important in getting better.

2. Most counselors and psychologists know how to get rid of your fears. They can recommend certain treatments that will make you feel a lot better. The only way you will get access to these treatments is if you talk to a counselor. Ask your primary care physician if he or she knows anyone that can help you.

3. You cannot manage your fears all by yourself. Your anxieties and fears can be extremely difficult to manage and more than likely you will need some help. Remember when your boss showed you how to do your job when you first got hired. You needed help from someone to learn the ins and outs of doing your current job. This concept applies to managing your fears. Do not feel ashamed that you are getting help. We all learn new things from others on a regular basis.

4. You can improve. As you work with a professional, you will improve on your skill sets in managing your stresses. You will become better able to manage your anxieties over time which will benefit you later on in your life.

5. You will get better quickly. Getting help from a counselor will save you a lot of suffering in the long run. You will get the answers you are looking for which will help manage your fears and anxieties. You will get better a lot faster by talking to a mental health professional.

6. You will not be alone. You will have a person in your corner who will be able to help you overcome your mental health issues. You won’t feel as alone when attempting to get rid of your fears. It is best to have somebody help you with your fears and anxieties instead of doing it by yourself.

Herbs for Spring Allergies

Are you a person who is super exited about the arrival of spring, but still worried about flaring up of allergies? Then this is for you. We will be discussing about the herbs that can help you ease allergic reactions.

Ayurveda classifies allergies according to Dosha, depending on which are triggered according to individual constitution.

spring field

We all have Vata, Pitta and Kapha in our body. Then why are we all not alike? Our physical features, characters, and immunity are different from others. The reason for this individuality is the combination of Doshas in each person. Any one, two, or three of these are expressed dominantly in a person by birth. This is known as Prakrithi, or Constitution.

Each of the dosha—Vata, Pitta and Kapha—has it's own specific qualities. When they combine together, there can be seven Prakrithi or constitutions. 

Single Dosha Prakrithi

  • Vata Prakrithi
  • Pitta Prakrithi
  • Kapha Prakrithi

Dual Dosha Prakrithi

  • Vata-Pitta
  • Pitta-Kapha
  • Vata-Kapha

Sama Prakruthi 

When all three doshas Vata, Pitta and Kapha are equal.

Prakrithi can simply be called as Dosha body types in modern terms. It is decided at the time of conception, when the sperm and ovum fuses itself. Are there any factors describing your Prakrithi or constitution?

YES. Scholar Charaka in his book Charaka Samhita, Vimana Sthana has mentioned the factors responsible for Prakrithi. 

  • Characters inherited from sperm of father and ovum of mother
  • Characters happened during intrauterine life — age of conception of mother, the season in which she conceived, etc. 
  • Diet and behavior of the mother during pregnancy
  • Predominant Mahabhootha, which is present during pregnancy period can give rise to specific prakrithis. For example, if Vayu (air) and Akasha (Ether) was dominant during pregnancy, Vata Prakrithi can be formed. 
  • Racial peculiarities, familial peculiarities, genetic factors, etc. can also determine your Prakrithi
  • Age factors — Though your entire prakrithi will not be changed, as age advances there will be a natural increase or decrease of specific doshas. For example, increase in Vata dosha in old age. 

It’s important to know your basic constitution before taking any Ayurvedic Medicine.

Tips for Soothing Vata Allergies

Vata allergies will be generally dominated by abdominal discomfort like burping, constipation, wheezing or headache, as well as sneezing, ringing in the ears, joint pain and even insomnia.

Saying this, let’s look how one can use herbs for pacifying Vata type of allergies.

1. Ginger: Having a cup of ginger tea can help all the abdominal troubles due to distorted Vata. Ginger’s heating qualities make it useful for treating Vata imbalances. It’s better to use fresh ginger rather than dried in the form of the spice.

How to prepare ginger tea?

To make 1 cup of ginger tea, take a piece of whole, unpeeled ginger root and grate 1 heaping teaspoon. Stir the ginger into a cup of hot water and let steep for 2 minutes. Strain or let the ginger settle at the bottom of the cup. You can add honey for sweetness.

What are the health benefits of ginger tea?

  1. Ginger tea is useful for treating Vata imbalances, such as digestive issues, because it improves all three phases of gastrointestinal function (digestion, absorption, and elimination).
  2. Drinking a cup of ginger tea before travelling can help prevent the nausea and vomiting associated with motion sickness.
  3. Ginger contains anti-inflammatory properties that make it an ideal home remedy for muscle and joint problems.
  4. Ginger tea can help relieve congestion associated with the common cold. Hence it becomes an excellent choice for spring.
  5. The vitamins, minerals, and amino acids in ginger tea can help restore and improve blood circulation that may help decrease the chance of cardiovascular problems. Also, it has the ability to lower cholesterol levels.

2. Triphala is a combination of three fruits, which include amalaki (Indian goose berry), Terminalia chebula, and Terminalia Billerica. It gently cleanses and detoxifies the body without irritating the colon. Have 1 tsp Triphala powder with 1/2 cup hot water before bed.

3. Aswagandha: This potent drug is rejuvenating and calms the nervous system. It ensures good sleep and has ability to bring Vata back to normalcy. It can be consumed along with milk or can even be taken in the form of capsules.

Tips for Soothing Pitta Allergies

When Pitta becomes aggravated or excessive, you may experience heartburn, inflammation, skin rashes, hot flashes, and irritability. You can use soothing and cooling herbs as part of an overall Pitta-balancing lifestyle.

Now let’s check out the herbs for Pitta allergic symptoms.

1. Shathavari which is Asparagus racemosus is a cooling potent drug for Pitta. It's so soothing that it's even advised during pregnancy. The recommended dose is 500 to 1,000 mg twice daily.

2. Bacopa or Brahmi has a cooling effect on the physiology that helps balance the Pitta dosha. Recommended daily dosage is 1-3 mg in a day.

3. Manjishta is another herb which pacifies Pitta. Take 1 tsp of Manjishta mixed with half glass of water, three times a day.

Tips for Soothing Kapha Allergies

Kapha allergy symptoms include irritation of the mucus membranes, hay fever, cold, congestion, cough, sinus infection, water retention, bronchial congestion, asthma, and even sleeping disorders. The person can always feel sluggish and lethargic.

Let’s check how to pacify the Kapha allergies.

1. Drinking lightening and clarifying teas such as ginger, cinnamon, cardamom, or clove can also help to liquefy, dry, and eliminate excess kapha.

2. Intake of raw honey can help soothe the Kapha allergies.

3. Herbs include turmeric (500 mg in a day), punarnava, and the combination of three peppers called Trikatu.

It’s important to consult your Ayurveda physician before administering herbs for curative effect. The details provided here are meant for the basic knowledge of herbs to cure allergic reactions.

It’s always good to include spices like turmeric, cinnamon, basil, coriander, cumin, and pepper in spring. All these spices have the ability to improve digestive power and fight against any inflammatory reactions.

Health Tips for Preventing Spring Allergies

1. In case of allergies to skin in spring, external application of Aloe Vera, called Kumari in Sanskrit, can be used. It soothes the skin and provides relief from skin problems.

2. Drink water boiled with ginger throughout the day.

3. Exercise and practice breathing exercises.

4. Nasya—an authentic Ayurvedic treatment of instilling nasal drops, like Anu Thaila, can be done daily after bath. (2 drops in each nostril)

5. Spring cleanse—follow a detoxify diet and go for a Virechana (Purgation) for total body cleanse.

Homemade Apple Cider Vinegar

I love vinegar. I use balsamic in my home-made salad dressings and apple cider vinegar in my tonics. It’s really good for you just like many fermented products are. The store-bought pasteurized version is good for you, too, but not as good as the unpasteurized stuff is. All the wonderful bacteria are killed when the store-bought version is heated to nearly boiling and kept there for a few minutes. The store-bought version needs a long shelf life and the manufacturers must adhere to safety standards. Our home-made version is not heated at all. We have control over the safety. There are some precautions to take and if you do you will have a healthy success.

Making your own apple cider vinegar doesn’t happen over-night or even in a couple hours. It takes a few weeks but when you’ve made it yourself you know it’s a good thing and worth the wait! Apple cider vinegar is high in phosphorus, magnesium, potassium, and calcium. Yes. It’s very good stuff.

I have one word of warning. Don’t make the same mistake I did and swallow a full-strength spoonful! It felt like battery acid must feel like and it nearly ruined my throat. I recovered after many glasses of water!

Used in a tonic it doesn’t taste or feel like battery acid. It’s actually delicious. Here’s my ACV common cold tonic. I’ve used it since I first read Paavo Airola’s book How to Get Well.

Apple Cider Vinegar Cold Tonic

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup water.
  • 1/4 cup unfiltered apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon raw, unfiltered honey
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1 wedge lemon

Bring water to a boil. Combine the hot water and apple cider vinegar in a small glass or mug. Add honey and cayenne pepper. Stir well. Top off with a squeeze of lemon and zip as you like it. I nurse it all day long.

A Few Tips and Bits of Information

The Mother

There’s a “thing” in some unpasteurized products that’s called the “mother”. It’s technically a “SCOBY” which is an acronym for “symbiotic colony of bacteria and yeast”. For example, you’ll see a mother in kombucha and other fermented products like that. It’s kind of a small pizza dough shaped “blob” and it’s what makes the vinegar. Don’t be alarmed. It’s a good thing.

Sugar or Honey?

Sugar is not much good for anything and this is my opinion. However, sugar is good for one thing and that is to feed the bacteria in apple cider vinegar. In the making of the apple cider vinegar most (if not all) of the sugar is eaten up by the bacteria. Can honey be used? Not really.  Honey has anti-microbial properties making it unsuitable for this kind of fermentation.

Be Mr. Clean

Make sure all your equipment is very clean. Bacteria is everywhere and we want to limit bacteria that is not appropriate from getting into the brew. Sterilizing as best you can is always advised.

Types of Apples

Any kind of organic apple is good. I think you get the best flavor if you have a mix of varieties. Gala, Fuji, Honeycrisp, Granny Smith, and McIntosh. More varieties mean more complexity to the flavor.

What’s with the white scum?

White, gelatinous scum is going to form on the top. This is normal.

However, No Mold

Mold, however, is not normal and will ruin your apple cider vinegar. Be sure that the apples stay submerged under the water which will help prevent mold. You can use a fermentation weight or even just a smaller glass jar (sterilize the outside) and set it on top of the apples to keep them submerged.

Gnats and Flies

Gnats and flies love apple cider vinegar so you need to make sure your jar is well covered. However, it needs to be able to breath and release gasses created from the fermentation process so do not use a solid lid. A layer of cheesecloth secured by a rubber band works well.

Homemade Apple Cider Vinegar Recipe

Gather Your Supplies

  • Sterilized jar – you can use any size jar (as long as it’s a wide mouth jar). I pour boiling water very carefully into it if I can’t get it in a hot water bath.
  • Organic apple scraps – enough to fill your jar 3/4 of the way full
  • 2 tablespoons organic cane sugar to 2 cups filtered water or well water
  • Fermentation weight or small glass jar that fits closely the opening of the jar
  • Cheesecloth and rubber band

Instructions

Prep Time: 5 minutes | Total Time: 6 weeks

Fill your sterilized jar 3/4 full with apple scraps. (don't use a metal lid. Use cheesecloth. There's a picture coming in a minute that shows this.)

fresh

Dissolve 2 tablespoons of cane sugar into 2 cups of water.

Pour the sugar water over the apples until they are completely submerged. You might not use all the sugar water but, in any case, make sure the apples are covered. They will float to a degree.

Weigh down the apples with a fermentation weight or the small glass jar.

2 weeks

Cover with the cheesecloth and secure with the rubber band.

cheesecloth

Store in a dark place at room temperature. Leave it for approximately 3 weeks. Check on it every few days to make sure the apples are staying under the water and no mold is growing.

After 3 weeks, it will still smell “sweet” but will start to have that distinctive scent of apple cider vinegar. Strain the apples pieces out and return the liquid to the jar. Compost the scraps.

Re-cover and put the jar back in the dark spot for another 3-4 weeks, stirring gently every few days. When the ACV has reached the acidity you like you can put a lid on it and start using it!

How Yoga Balances Inner Health and Outer Beauty

The world, which we are living in, has become a race for monetary gain. At the same time, people are doing gobs of things to attain perfection in their health. While looking good has always been in trend, managing complete fitness of the mind, body, and soul is what many of us are looking for today. In this highly challenging environment, we are losing the most precious gem — our inner and outer beauty. In view of the fact that yoga has been prevalent since time immemorial, it has been guiding humans on the path that leads to complete internal health and external beauty.

yoga meditation
Photo by Form on Unsplash

Yoga is diverse. It is different from modern health philosophies in numerous ways. Yoga’s view of health is not defined merely by the absence of diseases, but by liberation from all kinds of problems in the mind, body, and soul. More than medicines, yoga relies on the way of one’s living which includes asana practice, eating habits, sleeping timings, more.

Defining Internal and External Beauty

Before we turn toward the ways of balancing inner and outer health, it is important to know what these two theories mean. Everything that is happening inside the body is related to internal health, while the charm of the skin and its fitness is termed as the external aspect of the body. All body systems, processes, and metabolic functions are parts of the inner body. It is very interesting to note that both internal and external health are related to each other very closely. Only when all body organs work together, with full flair, can the outer glow come into the show.

Let’s discuss how yoga is worthwhile in maintaining inner wellness and outer charm of the body.

The Philosophy of Mindful Health

Being mindful is an awesome thing for the complete health and wellness of the body. Mindfulness is related to awareness and consciousness. A person, who cares more about his/her body health and living style, is likely to enjoy a complete balance between the inner and outer beauty. Yoga is one of the finest exercises that can lead you to the path of mindfulness.

To be precise, meditation denotes the theory of mindfulness. The yogic practice connects all three aspects of life — mental, physical, and emotional. When you indulge in the beauty of meditation, all you do is focus on the mind. With immense focus, the idea of self-care arises, in addition to giving a healing touch to inner health. Since you are more active about your wellness, external beauty also gets mushroomed in a fantastic way.

Wholesome Living with Yoga

One’s living style has a great impact on the body, mind, and soul. What you eat, when you sleep, and how you exercise are a number factors that need to be considered in the finest fashion in order to live your life astonishingly. Wholesomeness is the central philosophy when we talk about living a virtuous life. In yoga, extreme importance is given to diets and physical workouts. Vegetarianism is an integral part of the ancient science, and vegan food is described as good for overall health. These diets contain nutrients that help the skin glow. Since vegetarian diets get digested in less time, the digestive organs also remain more productive. Green vegetables, fruits, soybean, almonds, and more are extremely effective for attaining external beauty. According to the ancient Indian health philosophy, the more water one’s skin has, the more beautiful it looks.

Promotes Smooth Blood Circulation

Circulation of blood is one of the most significant and incessant processes in the body. It would not be wrong to say that life runs on this. Blood circulation is the key to maintaining almost all functions in the body. Even a healthy metabolism is sponsored by the process.

Yoga’s impact on the circulatory system is related to its breathing beauty. The ancient science has a lot to do with the process of breathing, as well as stretching the muscles. Both of these exercises are helpful in promoting blood circulation. Pranayama, or breathe work, is considered the best practice for a smooth flow of blood throughout the body parts. It is immensely beneficial in giving the external skin a shining glow. Constant breathing also purifies and oxygenates blood in a great way. Presence of pure blood in each and every part of the body makes you stronger from inside and fresh from outside.

Yoga Has a Rejuvenating Power

The 5000-year-old science of Yoga is an incredible way to keep yourself invigorated throughout the day. It is very effective in healing a number of diseases, including stress-related queries. A person having numerous health issues can't simply be healed internally or externally.

You must have realized that with more work pressure or tension, the skin gets wrinkled and looks pale. One cannot feel the charm of this beautiful world in the state of poor health. Happiness is the main path of soulful perfection, which yoga is strongly associated with. After a session of yoga, you enjoy extreme pleasure. When you begin the day with yoga asanas and meditation, the rest of the day is surely spent in an improved mood. This is very important in gaining inner confidence. You are more likely to revitalize the whole body when you include yogic practice in daily life.

If you are seriously looking to experience the delight of an invigorated body, intelligent mind, and charming skin, do nothing but follow the yogic guidance for ultimate health.


Bipin Baloni is a passionate Yogi, Yoga Teacher and a Traveller in India. He organizes 200 hour yoga teacher training in Nepal. Bipin Baloni conducts Yoga Teacher Training and Ayurveda Courses in Kerala in India in different cities. He loves writing and reading books related to yoga, health, nature and the Himalayas.







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