2008-07-04 / Columnists

Health & Harmony

Independence Day
Commentary By Dr. Nancy Gahles

DR. NANCY GAHLES DR. NANCY GAHLES Independence The festivities that mark this holiday are highlighted by the use of fireworks that replicate the "rockets red glare" that we sing about in our national anthem. In that case, the red glare was from the Battle of Baltimore that Francis Scott Key was watching during the war of 1812. When the smoke cleared and the American flag was still waving, it inspired him to write a poem which eventually became "The Star Spangled Banner." Put to music, it was adopted as our national anthem by President Woodrow Wilson in 1916.

It is right and fitting that we should celebrate our country and the freedoms that we espouse for all. A day at the beach, barbeques following and the company of good friends is a wonderful way to mark this holiday.

With freedom comes certain expectations of responsibility. Please don't drink and drive. Setting an example for your children by modeling responsible drinking is crucial to the concept of freedom.

We do know that there will be those among us that are the "bearers of the rockets red glare," so to speak. Please be judicious in your use of fireworks. They really are not playthings. When we have children setting off fireworks, we have a recipe for disaster. Please speak with your children about their plans and whereabouts for the holiday. Make sure you caution them about the safe use of fireworks. Let an adult with experience produce the show.

Burns are the usual consequence of mishandling fireworks. Some tips for handling burns:

A first degree burn involves the top layer of the skin, the epidermis. The skin will be red, hot and painful. There is no swelling or blistering. (This is what a sunburn is.) In this case, wash the area with tepid water first to remove any debris or chemicals from the fireworks. Then apply aloe vera gel, which is cooling and will take the burn away. Aloe is found in most pharmacies and health food stores as an after sun lotion. After the initial burning sensation has been soothed, apply calendula cream or ointment to the area for several days to prevent infection and promote skin healing. Another homeopathic remedy called Urtica Urens is very effective when aloe doesn't relieve the stinging sensation. Urtica Urens can be found in health food stores as a cream or gel often labeled as a burn cream. It is made from the stinging nettle plant, hence its action to soothe stings. Keep it on hand for bee stings as well, where there is stinging and burning pains that are worse from cool water.

Often, when we are burned or scalded in the kitchen, our first impulse is to run it under cool water. When this aggravates the burn, it is a clear indication to use Urtica Urens. Urticaria is a name for hives and this remedy works well for reducing the itching that accompanies the raised, red blotches. Prickly heat, also known as nettle rash, responds well to Urtica Urens as well.

A second degree burn is more severe. The underlying layers of the skin are injured and the area is often mottled red and pink with swelling and blistering. In this case, you must consult your doctor to assess the extent of the damage. The danger with this depth of a burn lies in the possibility of infection. Your doctor will likely give you an antibiotic cream such as Silvadene or advise you to use bacitracin and keep it covered with sterile gauze. In this case, I always begin feeding the immune system to minimize infection. I suggest a combination Echinacea and Goldenseal formula for its antiviral and antibiotic properties given three times a day for 7-10 days. (Know your own medical history and allergic responses. Use the Internet to learn about these herbs if you have never used them). Depending on the whole symptom picture, including the person's reaction to the burn, that is, their mood state, I will suggest a specific homeopathic remedy to facilitate activity of the vital force to heal itself more quickly and efficiently. For instance, the Bach Flower remedy, Rescue Remedy, is wonderful for the immediate shock of the injury. A few drops under the tongue can be quite calming. Where there is great fright and the person is certain that they will die, the remedy Aconite, given once under the tongue is also calming. For the person who insists that they are fine when there is an injury that shows otherwise, one dose of Arnica is indicated. I usually follow the external treatments with several doses of Calendula internally to promote healthy granulation tissue and prevent scarring.

More serious burns will be evident and these require immediate emergency intervention. Never adopt a wait and see attitude in cases of severe burns.

Every home should have a proper first aid kit that includes the simple remedies suggested above. One person in every home should be trained in emergency first aid and CPR.

This fall, Health & Harmony will be conducting these classes. If you are interested in attending or if you would like to prepare your child who is going off to college, please email me at askDrNancy@aol.com.

To those who are given much, much is expected. Use your freedoms wisely, with joy and gratitude. The independence you experience will be peace of mind.

May The Blessings Be!

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