— by Patty Liu, Clinician
As the summer season approaches, we find ourselves spending more time outdoors soaking up those glorious rays of sunshine. While short exposure to sun’s ultraviolet (UV) rays allows our bodies to produce vitamin D, prolonged sun exposure can lead to sunburn, wrinkles, premature aging, and skin cancer. In order to prevent these damaging effects, it’s important to take proper care of your skin by wearing sunscreen with sun protection factor (SPF) and using antioxidant rich herbs, both topically and internally.
Many commercially available sunscreens contain toxic and hormone disrupting ingredients, which greatly harm our bodies and the environment. Fortunately, there are a number of herbal oils that gently protect your skin from the sun’s UV rays when applied topically – red raspberry seed oil, avocado oil, sesame seed oil, and to a lesser degree, coconut and jojoba oil. Diluted in a carrier oil, essential oils of rosemary, lavender, and carrot seed can help to protect the skin from free radical damage and inflammation. When purchasing a natural sunscreen, look for products that contain some of these ingredients and be sure to reapply sunscreen every two hours, especially after swimming and sweating.
Rich in antioxidants and polyphenols, green tea can offer protection against prolonged UV exposure when consumed regularly. Go ahead and make yourself an iced green tea and enjoy the sun!
Sources: Kaur CD, Saraf S. In vitro sun protection factor determination of herbal oils used in cosmetics. Pharmacognosy Research. 2010;2(1):22-25. doi:10.4103/0974-8490.60586. Oomah, B. Dave & Ladet, Stephanie & Godfrey, David & Liang, Jun & Girard, Benoit. (2000). Characteristics of raspberry (Rubus idaeus L.) seed oil. Food Chemistry. 69. 187-193. 10.1016/S0308-8146(99)00260-5. Raškovi? A, Milanovi? I, Pavlovi? N, ?ebovi? T, Vukmirovi? S, Mikov M. Antioxidant activity of rosemary (Rosmarinus officinalis L.) essential oil and its hepatoprotective potential. BMC Complementary and Alternative Medicine. 2014;14:225. doi:10.1186/1472-6882-14-225. Imtiaz Ahmad Siddiqui, Rohinton S. Tarapore & Hasan Mukhtar (2009) Prevention of skin cancer by green tea: Past, present and future, Cancer Biology & Therapy, 8:13, 1288-1291.
A few weeks ago when out on an herb walk with my Apprenticeship students, we witnessed a rainbow around the sun. Though said to be a common experience, I can’t remember seeing this before. Other hikers we passed also commented on this phenomenon, worried that it was a sign of bad things to come. The scientific explanation is that this occurs when there are ice crystals in high clouds; the sun shines through them, making a rainbow around the sun…