by Leah Klein
If the body is severely overheated, its natural cooling mechanisms may fail, leading to sunstroke. Body temperature can rise dangerously, resulting in symptoms such as dizziness, nausea, exhaustion and severe headache. The condition requires immediate treatment.
Cooling, rehydrating and sustaining herbs can be applied to stabilise the body once the acute symptoms of the heatstroke have been treated. Herbs regulate sweating and calm the heart rate, relaxing the body, which is beneficial to cooling the body temperature.
Lemon balm cools and is also calming for your mind and body. Avoid with hypothyroidism. Infuse 1–2 tsp of dried lemon balm in 6fl oz (175ml) of boiling water and drink as required.
Aloe vera is cooling, soothing and rehydrating. Avoid internal use while pregnant. Drink 15ml juice twice a day, or dilute gel or juice in water to use as a compress on your brow and neck.
There are very good after-sun lotions and gels containing Aloe vera that help, such as Banana Boat. Keep aloe vera chilled to preserve its active ingredients.
Peppermint helps cool skin when applied topically. Avoid if you suffer from oesophageal reflux. Infuse 1–2 tsp of fresh or dried peppermint in 6fl oz (175ml) of boiling water and use as a wash or add to bath.
Therapeutic oils can be used to help relieve headaches and nausea and lift exhaustion after excessive exposure to heat and the sun.
Lavender relaxes, soothes and cools. Add 2 drops to 2 tsp (10ml) of aloe vera gel. Mix well and apply to any areas of over-exposed skin.
Ginger is good for nausea, but only when the actual overheating has calmed down. Put a drop on a tissue or put it in a diffuser to inhale.
What to Avoid
Avoid warming herbs such as cayenne, ginger and cinnamon, as well as extracts containing alcohol, which would not be suitable for dehydrated, overheated conditions.
Rest is essential for recovery. Make yourself comfortable in a dark, cool room and allow time to recover.
Rehydration is important. Add ½ tsp of salt to a glass of water and sip frequently to rehydrate and equalise the balance of bodily fluids.
Have a lukewarm, but not cold, bath to help the body cool down. If the skin is also burned, add a generous handful of baking soda to soothe the pain.