The Healing Homestead
Summer is upon us. We are planning our family vacations, beach time, summer gatherings, and ball games. But along with the fun comes bug bites, booboos and sun burns. No matter how we protect our children, they are, after all, children and we want them to play and have fun. As moms, we need to be prepared with remedies.
Right in our own yard nature abounds with medicinal weeds popping up. By planting our own small crop of medicinal plants like aloe vera, mints, oregano or rosemary we can be equipped to make our own homespun remedies. If you live in the country as we do, poison ivy is everywhere and someone is eventually going to get it on them (or develop a rash). Aloe vera is great to have on hand for this and many other skin issues like scrapes and cuts. You can use the leaf fresh by, cutting it open and applying it directly on the site or it may be added to lotions, creams, and salves. The rash is often healed by the next day... Other great herbs to keep on hand for poultices are St. John’s wort, calendula and arnica. 
Each year, I make a batch of balm for bug bites. These handy little roll-ons are great and when applied, they stop the itch. See recipe page (to be added). To help minimize the bugs, you can plant lemon balm, lemongrass, lavender, peppermint and vetiver throughout the yard.
Let’s not forget the weeds as there are many that are medicinal. In your weed patch, you may find weeds such as plantain or dandelion. Both plantain and dandelion have analgesic and anti-inflammatory properties. The greens of the dandelion is highly nutritional. Dandelion is very rich in protein, magnesium, phosphorous, iron, niacin, riboflavin, magnesium, potassium and vitamins A, B, C, D, G and E. The leaves, amazingly enough, contain 7,000 units of vitamin A per ounce. In comparison to lettuce being 1,200 units per ounce of vitamin C, and to carrot being 1,275 units per ounce is quite astounding.(5) Then there is that sticky little Chickweed also referred to as “catchweed” that is so soothing and healing to the skin. Chickweed is also full of nutrients in its sweet little tender greens and is great in salads. You can grab a handful of chickweed tops and mash them with a little water and make a mash. Place the mash in a cloth and hold to the scrapes and irritated skin as a poultice.
Harvesting weeds and plants is one of my favorite things to do. Herbs should be harvested when the oils responsible for flavor and aroma are at their peak, early in the morning. Proper timing depends on the plant part you are harvesting and the intended use. Herbs grown for their foliage should be harvested before they flower. While chives are quite attractive in bloom, flowering can cause the foliage to develop an off-flavor. Harvest herbs grown for seeds as the seed pods change in color from green to brown to gray but before they shatter (open). Collect herb flowers, such as borage and chamomile, just before full flower. Harvest herb roots, such as bloodroot, chicory, ginseng, and goldenseal, in the fall after the foliage fades.
There are many methods of drying your herbs. You can hang them, lay them out on a rack in the sun, or use an electric dehydrator. For salves, I dry some herbs and medicinal weeds and blend them into a fine powder. With this powder and a few ingredients such as beeswax, aloe, jojoba or other carrier oils and some essential oils you can make a healing salve. If you have skin healing essential oils like Helichrysum, Lavender, Myrrh, and Frankincense, it’s even a stronger foundation of healing. When combining your herbs or medicinal weeds with essential oils, you have a powerhouse of healing.
In the southeast, it can get into the upper nineties in the afternoons. Keeping cool can be a challenge. Hydrosols are a wonderful way to cool right down. A hydrosol is the aromatic water that remains after producing an essential oil via steam or water distillation. Hydrosols are the perfect solution for young children and sensitive skin. Some plants are specifically distilled for the resulting hydrosol instead of the hydrosol being simply a byproduct of the distillation.  Hydrosols are gently aromatic, soothing and are a wonderful addition to room mists and body sprays intended to help keep you cool and refreshed. Unlike essential oils that should be diluted prior to
application to the skin, hydrosols are water soluble, are much more gentle than their essential oil counterparts and can be used directly on the skin without further dilution. My personal hydrosol favorites for use in cooling and summertime products are neroli hydrosol, lavender hydrosol and peppermint hydrosol. So many other hydrosols are also wonderful to use as a basis for a personal spray or room mist. bulgarian rose, roman chamomile, frankincense, and Helichrysum are a few others that come to mind. Quality hydrosols can be hard to find so I have included a reference for you with wonderful quality hydrosols called Aromatics International. 
We can’t leave out dehydration! Summer is good for detoxing as we sweat out the bad stuff. But we have to put back the lost fluids. A goal of 8 glasses a day is optimal but isn’t always convenient. For those times when we don’t get enough water, we need to rehydrate and you can make your own rehydrating drinks. Store bought rehydrating drinks are full of sugars and chemicals. “When you're dehydrated, you lose sugar and salts, as well as water. Drinking a rehydration solution will enable you to re-establish the right balance of body fluids. The solution should contain a mixture of potassium and sodium salts, as well as glucose or starch.”(4) By using salt, baking soda, honey or stevia, lemon and/or lime juice, you can make a great rehydrating drink. 
Keeping our children happy and healthy during the summer months makes summer much more enjoyable for them and Moms alike.
Gladstar, R. (2012). Rosemary Gladstar's medicinal herbs: A beginner's guide. North Adams, MA: Storey Pub.
Hydrosol Uses. (n.d.). Retrieved June 07, 2016, from http://www.aromaweb.com/hydrosols/hydrosol-uses.asp
Essential Oil Blends Recipes | Aromatics International. (n.d.). Retrieved June 07, 2016, from https://www.aromatics.com/products/all?search=hydrosols
Dehydration - Treatment . (n.d.). Retrieved June 07, 2016, from http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Dehydration/Pages/Treatment.aspx
Chevallier, A. (2000). Natural health encyclopedia of herbal medicine. New York: DK Pub.; Taraxacum officinale Dandelion; pg.141-142