The best part about summer is how much time we get to spend outside, and nothing's healthier than being out-of-doors, whether you're relaxing on a grassy hillside watching the clouds, hiking a new path or gathering produce from your garden. But the outdoors isn't a sterile zone (which is, I think, part of its magic!) and so the best way to enjoy being en plein air is to be prepared for the inevitable minor burns, scratches, bruises, bug bites and other minor irritations that can crop up.

Over the last decade, I have been using exclusively natural products in my first-aid kit, which I keep in a pouch under my sink so I know where everything is, and also so I can grab it and throw it in a backpack or drybag for summer adventures. Here's what I have in my kit:

For bites

Peppermint and lavender oil applied without dilution can take the itchiness out of mosquito bites. I also find that if you don't scratch bug bites right away, that goes a long way towards making them less itchy later.

Muscle soreness

Self-massage is a simple way to calm sore muscles; I use a bit of organic oil like sesame, olive or coconut to rub the sore spots. You can also use arnica gel or creams to reduce swelling and calm the muscle.


I like to wash the open area with a bit of pure soap like Dr. Bronner's, and flush with plenty of water before applying anything. If you are out and about without soap, a good water flush is better than none. I apply a bit of tea tree oil and a loose band-aid (so the cut can dry out and breathe) as long as it's not bleeding much. Sugar is also a great anti-bacterial — just mix with a bit of water so it becomes a paste, spread over injury, and cover with a bandaid. Clinical research has shown that sugared wounds heal faster.


Aloe vera gel is moisturizing and healing, and peppermint oil mixed with a liquid soap or into a light oil like sunflower can cool the skin. And be sure to keep burned areas out of the sun until they heal.

Motion sickness

Ginger is a great solution for nausea, whether caused by too much sun or time on a rocking boat. I like to keep ginger chews like these in my kit so I know I always have some. They are simpler than carrying raw ginger, which dries out quickly, and less explosive than ginger ale. Ginger chews are also sweet so they are easy to take when you're not feeling great, and kids don't mind the ginger flavor if it's sweetened.

Starre Vartan ( @ecochickie ) covers conscious consumption, health and science as she travels the world exploring new cultures and ideas.

An all-natural summer first aid kit
With these all-natural healers, you can keep safe, itch-free and healthy all summer long, sans chemicals.