Summer is a wonderful time for getting outside and visiting new places, but it brings with it its own share of problems from heat, insects, too much sunshine, or getting too close to certain plants. Luckily, safe, effective (and inexpensive) relief may be as close as your backyard. From poison ivy to prickly heat (small, painful, itchy, red bumps and dry skin caused by plugged sweat glands), do-it-yourself remedies made from houseplants or even backyard weeds can provide relief that's as effective as the best over-the-counter medications. Just keep in mind, when foraging for plants, that you want to be sure to know your plant, harvest in areas away from traffic exhaust, leave plenty of plants to keep growing, and get permission if it's growing on someone else's property. For any ailments not listed here, visit the Rodale Remedy Finder to find other herbal remedies for common health problems.
Here are seven simple herbal remedies that could save your summer:
#1: Aloe vera.
The natural sap from a cut aloe vera leaf eases a whole host of ailments: bug bites, poison ivy, sunburn (and any type of mild to moderate burn), skin irritation, and prickly heat. It also speeds healing of scrapes and cuts. Keep a plant or two on hand for your entire summer. Hardy in Zones 9 through 11, aloe vera is easy to grow in a pot; to avoid root rot, allow the soil to dry out between waterings. To use, harvest a leaf by cutting it close to the center of the plant, slice it in half lengthwise, and use a spoon to scrape the jellylike interior away from the skin.