One of our favorite herbalists gives the scoop on relieving the pain & itch of sunburn fast!
It’s summer time! At this time of year, people spend more time outdoors doing activities like hiking, sunbathing on the beach, and hanging out on the back porch. The more time spent outdoors means the more exposure to the sun our skin will have.
With outdoor activities, especially in this time of warmer climates, it’s important to be aware of the need to protect our skin from over exposure and sunburn. Studies show the more often you get sunburned, the chances your skin has of developing cancerous cells grows exponentially.
Now don’t get me wrong, some sun exposure is important for your health. It helps your body synthesize vitamin D. It boosts your mood. It makes the plants grow, which boosts the dopamine levels for all you gardening affectionatos. We need the sun! Just like everything else in life, moderation is key!
It’s important to take steps to protect your skin and treat a sunburn both topically and internally. As a certified Chinese herbalist, I’m going to give you some tips on what to do to help find relief from sunburns naturally and ways to prevent skin damage during the summer months and beyond. Read to the bottom for one of my favorite, cooling summer recipes!
More than Skin DeepSunburn goes deeper than the topical layers of the skin.
The typical external symptoms of a sunburn include:
In more severe cases, the damage from sunburns can affect the body on an internal level. The symptoms of this mimic those of a cold or flu:
For this reason, it’s important to treat sunburns both externally with Amazing herbs AND internally with the appropriate foods and drinks.
What herbs are best for sunburn?
There are four wonderful herbs for sunburn: Lavender, Peppermint, Calendula, and Licorice.
Lavender is famous for its ability to help heal wounds. In this study, performed on rats, lavender helped speed up the expression of collagen III and I, fibroblasts (cells used to create connective tissue), and transforming growth factor. In layman terms, it means lavender helped speed up the wound healing process in various significant ways. In another study, lavender was used to help heal wounds created from episiotomies in women during childbirth. The lavender group showed less inflammation compared to the control group.
Peppermint is an aromatic herb that has acrid and cooling properties. In Chinese medicine, mint is in the category of herbs called “Herbs that Release The Exterior.” What this means is herbs in this category help release disorders that are lodged in the very superficial levels of the body. In Chinese medicine sunburn is considered to be heat that is trapped at the superficial layer. Cooling aromatic herbs like Peppermint help open things up to help release the trapped heat. An example of this is how when you chew peppermint candy or gum, your sinuses open up and you can breathe better. Peppermint helps open the pores and pathways of the body to help vent the trapped heat.
Calendula is famous for its ability to reduce inflammation of the skin. Did you know it also can be used as a sunscreen? This study shows that Calendula exhibited an SPF activity Between 14-15. It is a known protectant and healer of many skin conditions, including burns, due to its high antioxidant levels.
Licorice is used in skincare for its many benefits. We have a whole blog article devoted to the benefits of licorice. One of the most noted benefits is the chemical compounds of glycyrrhizic acid and Isoangustone A. Isoangustone A is currently being studied for the treatment of various melanomas, with promising results. Glycyrrhizic acid is antiinflammatory, antimicrobial, and a powerful antioxidant. Licorice can help protect skin cells from damage that occurs with sunburns.
Intentionally Crafted Herbal Magic
At Ora’s Amazing Herbal, we’ve done our research and have created products that contain the best herbs to help relieve irritation from sunburns.
Our After Sun and Shave oil contains our base oil of Grapeseed oil infused with Calendula, Comfrey, Plantain, St. John’s Wort, Burdock root, and Thyme. It also includes the essential oils of Lavender, Peppermint, and Tea Tree. Comfrey, Plantain, and St. John’s Wort are also anti inflammatory and soothing for sunburns! The After Sun and Shave Oil is literally the perfect remedy for sunburn!
To add more benefit to our After Sun and Shave Oil, you can alternate with our Calendula Oil. Our Calendula Oil contains Grapeseed oil infused with Calendula, Licorice root, Jojoba Oil, and vitamin E. This gentle formula has no essential oils, but the ultra healing herbs can aid in soothing skin.
For sunburn relief of the face (without the Peppermint), you can apply the Calendula Oil only, or our Magic Face Potion (which is also high in antioxidants and contains Lavender, Licorice, and Calendula).
Food for thought.. Or erm…. sunburn
I earlier mentioned food and drink to help with sunburn. Just as you need to topically apply herbs to help release the heat trapped in the superficial layers of the skin, that trapped heat also can affect the internal aspect of the body. By treating both the external and internal aspects, it can help heal sunburn even faster.
Watermelon is a common food used in Chinese medicine for “Summer Heat”, our name for heat exhaustion. The high mineral and water content in watermelon helps cool and rehydrate the body. One of my favorite drinks comes from the Hispanic tradition called aguas frescas. These are drinks made with whole fruits blended in water. Agua de sandia (watermelon water) is the perfect drink to cool down on a hot summer day.
To make my modified version of agua de sandia all you need is a blender and the following ingredients:
- ½ or ¼ of a watermelon, depending on the size
- 4 peppermint leaves
- The juice of ½ a lime
- Some ice
Peel the watermelon and discard the rind. Cut the remainder into chunks. Place the chunks in a blender along with the peppermint leaves, lime juice, and ice. If the watermelon isn’t very sweet you can add a sweetener of your choice also. Fill up the blender with water. Blend until smooth. Enjoy!
Other helpful cooling foods include cucumbers, celery, chia seeds, honey dew, cantaloupe, apples, kiwis, pears, pineapple, oranges, lemons, dill and cilantro.
Teas you can drink to help aid in sunburn relief can include:
- Green tea is high in antioxidants and is used in Chinese medicine to clear excess heat from the body.
- Peppermint tea can aid the topical peppermint in releasing heat.
- Chrysanthemum is also in the “Herbs that Release the Exterior” category, and its close relative is chamomile! You can get chrysanthemum tea from an Asian grocery store. If you don’t have an Asian grocery store near you, chamomile tea can also work just fine.
About Ora’s Amazing Herbal
Ora’s Amazing Herbal creates natural, herbal infused skincare for the whole family. We strive to empower women through self care, one minute at a time (because let’s be honest, as moms- often a minute is all we have)! Our current line includes salves, powders, body oils, body butters, face oil serums, powder facial cleansers, beard & hair oils, lip balms, and herbal steams. We also have a natural baby care line which includes gentle newborn and baby salves, powders, and baby oil. We use high quality, non-gmo, fair trade oils and organic herbs to create skin care that is both pure and effective. Our products are crafted in small batches in New Jersey and are free from talc, grain, lanolin,chemical preservatives, synthetic dyes & fragrances, parabens, and animal testing. We also have a huge focus on sustainability, eco-friendly packaging, and kindness to the world around us. If you’d like to learn more, please check out our website- OrasAmazingHerbal.com.
All content and media published by Ora's Amazing Herbal is created and published online for informational purposes only. It is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, is not intended to diagnose/ prevent/ treat any medical conditions, and should not be relied on as health or personal advice. Always seek the guidance of your trusted healthcare practitioner with any questions you may have regarding your health or a medical condition.