Published August 3, 2017 — Share
The sweet smell of freedom is pine needles, campfire and sunrise. For many Canadians, young and old, this is the time to get outdoors and embrace these most Canadian of activities: camping, hiking and canoeing.
But with these outdoor excursions come bruises, scrapes, blisters and bug bites, especially if you have rambunctious kids in tow. So what should you pack in your natural health kit to take on your summer outdoor getaway? Read on for our top five natural “must-haves” for your nature adventures.
Distilled witch hazel has natural astringent, anti-septic and anti-inflammatory properties. It comes from a family of deciduous shrubs native to North America, and preparations have been used for centuries to soothe skin irritations. This makes it an essential addition for your outdoor adventures, as it can help relieve itching, cracked or blistered skin caused by those new hiking boots that you forgot to break in.
You can even use witch hazel as a base for a natural antiseptic and natural bug repellent. To make a simple, natural bug repellent, mix 250 ml (1 cup) of witch hazel, 250 ml (1 cup) of distilled or boiled water and 30 to 50 drops of eucalyptus oil in a spray bottle. Shake and spray on your clothing before going out. The natural bug repellant properties of the oil make it a must-have for your next camping trip.
Calendula is an herbalist’s best friend and has been used for centuries for its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties. This yellow-flowering plant from the daisy family is traditionally used to aid wound healing when applied topically, making a soothing rub essential to have on hand when you no doubt scrape your knee on the last leg of your portage.
You’ll no doubt fall in love with the benefits of Calendula for soothing aching skin. However, it is extremely versatile and can be found in numerous other products at your local CHFA member health food store. It can be found in toothpaste, as a tincture and even in soaps and deodorants. If taken orally, calendula may even help to relieve indigestion or inflammation.
What makes these great for outdoor adventures is that they are light and don’t take up much space, but provide relief quickly if you’re suffering from gastrointestinal upset from your hardcore canoe trip. Ginger has been clinically shown to help prevent nausea and vomiting associated with motion-sickness. It’s also available as a supplement, which can provide a confirmed dose. Look for the eight-digit Natural Product Number (NPN) on the label, which tells you that the product has been assessed and approved by Health Canada for safety, efficacy and high quality.
Another popular must-have for your summer get-away is arnica. Available as a gel, ointment, tincture or oil, arnica was traditionally used to alleviate pain since the 1500s, but is still popular today. It can be easily applied to the skin for pain and swelling associated with bruises, aches, sprains, and arthritis. If you’re feeling stiff from a long day of hiking, rub arnica into sore muscles and joints for natural relief.
After a long-day of hiking or paddling, especially in the blistering heat, you will have lost not just water but also electrolytes. These minerals, including sodium, potassium, calcium, phosphate and chloride, all contribute to the proper functioning of your body’s systems, including normal muscle contraction. You can pick up individual packets of natural electrolyte powders at your local health food store, which will replenish these essential nutrients and are a lifesaver mixed into your reusable water bottle to sip along the trail and keep you at the head of the pack!
No matter what outdoor activities you have penciled in this summer, plan ahead with these five natural health essentials for your outdoor kit. Whether soothing sore muscles, keeping the bugs at bay or keeping you well hydrated, your local CHFA Member health food store has natural solutions to keep your family at the trail head and enjoying everything the outdoors have to offer!