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Natural Suntanning and Sunburn Prevention and Relief

aloh veraRodale News reported recently on foods that can (a) prevent sunburn, and (b) treat sunburn.

I love lavender oil for treating sunburn, after I first slather fresh aloe vera on it.

(Even if you don’t have a green thumb, you must have an aloe plant in your house. They are succulents and hard to kill. I’ve had mine for 15 years. Every time I burn my finger in the kitchen or get a sunburn, I cut off a stem and slice it in half. It cools, relieves pain, and helps a burn not bubble and peel. Usually the next day, it’s become a tan for me.)

Vit_D-SunI was very pale and never tanned, as a child. Because I’m in the sun constantly now, due to running, tennis, and being a baseball mom, my skin has learned how to tan. We need 20 minutes of sun, daily, as often as possible, for Vitamin D, which is the #1 correlate to cancer risk. High Vita D correlates to low cancer risk. After you’ve been in the sun, don’t shower for several hours, if possible. Otherwise you wash off the substance on your skin that your body converts to Vitamin D.

But because I drink fresh-made juice with carrots and beets and lots of greens and alkaline veggies (celery, cucumbers), I also don’t burn much any more. The red and orange pigments in beets and carrots not only color my skin to mimic a tan, but they also act as a natural preventative against sunburn.

The Rodale News report said these help, too:

  1. Dark Chocolate: high-cacao content is key. Will Clower, PhD, author of Eat Chocolate, Lose Weight, suggests eating 70 grams a day of 70-percent cacao. It doubles the amount of UV that is required to get a sunburn!
  2. Eating organic tomatoes protect your skin against sun damage. In one study, those who ate 5 Tbsp of tomato paste daily for 3 months enjoyed 25 percent more protection against sunburn.
  3. White vinegar is a good topical, non-steroidal, anti-inflammatory drug. It will kill the pain for 20 minutes.
  4. Blend up a cucumber and apply it to the skin, mixed with glycerine for sun protection, or soothing protection.
  5. Pomegranates are rich in ellagic acid, which protects skin against UVA- and UVB-induced cell damage. They are anti-inflammatory and high in antioxidants. Eat them in the summer!
  6. Green tea (one of my favorite occasional drinks in hot weather) is high in catechin compounds that help protect against the sun’s harmful radiation. The used tea bags are good on the skin for sunburn relief, too.
  7. Oatmeal soothes a sunburn. You can grind it up and put it in the bathtub. I got my kids through the chicken pox with oatmeal baths, which calmed them considerably.

physical-chemicalFinally, get a physical sunblock cream instead of the chemical sunscreens in the mass market, which are highly toxic. Green Screen is one brand sold in health food stores that doesn’t use carcinogenic chemicals.

The physical sunblock creams don’t “rub in” easily and can have a white sheen on the skin for a little while after application. (You can buy a tinted product, too.)But I think it’s possible that chemical sunscreens cause as much cancer as sunburns do, in some cases. (They have many chemicals added that are known carcinogens and endocrine disruptors. And, they absorb into your bloodstream, so they’re metabolized just like food!)