Thursday, June 26, 2008

Sunburn Solution

Today was a beautiful day. I woke up early to a faded grey cloudy sky. Highly unusual in late June, but known to happen occasionally during monsoon season if it was a particularly wet night. But, it was cloudy this morning, looked like it might have been raining over the eastern mountains. I was on my way early to pick up the participants of today’s herb walk. It was a small and friendly group, and we enjoyed the early morning cool and moist cloudiness as we walked in a wash. There were so many plants, and by mid morning, the sun had burned off the cooling clouds. It was hot and very bright, the sun reflecting off rocks and sand in the wash.
We found ourselves resting frequently in the shade of oak and junipers from time to time, sharing snacks, and talking about the medicine of the plants around us. Of course, silly me, in my eagerness and hurriedness to get out of the house early, forgot to sunscreen myself. I almost always remember to bring a hat, a sarong to cover up with, or some sunscreen to slather on if I’m going to be outside for a length of time. In the desert summer, the sun is powerful. Vitamin D production aside, it is easy to get too much sun, even in a shady wash. And I did.
I was smart enough to have worn a shirt that covered my shoulders, but my neck and face and forearms are rather bright red and somewhat painful. Silly herbalist…I spent a lot of the morning talking a lot about the astringent plants that are helpful for sunburns.
When I got home and realized how burned I was, I went straight to work looking for something to soothe the burn with. Kiva has sung the praises of her rose vinegar for sunburns, and I’ve been partial to mugwort/Artemisia vinegar for burns in the past. But, alas, I had neither herb prepared as a vinegar today.
So, I decided to try rose tincture instead of rose vinegar. Alcohol is not cooling by nature, but does feel cool to the skin as it evaporates quickly. Roses, cooling, astringent, soothing, anti inflammatory, are a beautiful and gentle remedy to soothe any sort of heat and inflammation, including that of a burn. So I diluted a tablespoon of wild rose tincture with cool water, and sponged it on over my face and neck with a cotton ball. Ahhhh…relief. I think the tincture works just as well as the vinegar. For convenient reapplication I put the remainder of the rose tincture and water mixture in a little spray bottle with a couple of drops of peppermint and chamomile essential oils. This I can easily spray on the back of my neck and face, and it offers an immediate cooling sensation, while the rose gets to work pulling the heat out of the burn.

I have a little bottle of aloe vera with neem which feels very cool and soothing as well, and I’ve been alternating the two for the last few hours and it is working beautifully. Meanwhile, I’m watching as the free range fat I got this week renders down into lard.
I think alder lard salve might be in the works soon!

Yarrow lemon balm lacto ferment is on the pilot light warming and starting to get fizzy. Slow cooked black beans are being put away for a morning breakfast with fried eggs and cilantro.

And, to top it all off, those morning clouds burned off, but reappeared with a bang this afternoon in the west, and now we’re having a beautiful lightning storm, and getting some of the first rain of the monsoon season! It’s more of a sprinkle, but it is definitely putting moisture on the ground, and the smell of desert rain tells me again, I am home.


Kiva Rose said...

The rose tincture works great doesn't it! Rose tea is good too... Comparing the three, I still tend to think the vinegar is the best but they all work so well it's no big deal. The spray bottle is great too, especially when the burn's not too bad. I especially like Mugwort preps if the sunburn gets to the peeling/itchy phase.

Send some of that rain this way before I choke on all this smoke! Yippe, so glad to hear you're getting some moisture which hopefully means we'll get some too.

And yay for Alder lard, very very good stuff that is. Damn near magical in fact.

mbrown said...

Can you tell me what is the yarrow lemon balm lacto ferment that you spoke of in this post? Thanks so much! Love your blog.


Shamana Flora said...

the ferment is basically an infusion of yarrow and lemon balm, strained, sugar added, and a couple of tablespoons of whey ( from Piima or yougurt culture). The jar is lidded loosely and set out in a warm spot for a couple of days to ferment.

Then I put it in the fridge, and when cool, drink! sour, refreshing and full of live cultures! I like the bitter of yarrow with lemon balm.

mbrown said...

Omigosh what a wonderful idea, thank you! I would have never thought to do it. Could you do this with about any herb or herbal combination?

Anonymous said...

Oh, and another question about the lactofermented drink - does an infusion or a tea work better for this? Thanks!

"The mother of us all, the oldest of us all, Hard, splendid as rock, Let the beauty you love, be what you do. There are a thousand ways to kneel and kiss the earth"~ Rumi ~