Alternatively Speaking: Stopping the sting

Alternative medicine expert Natalie Marx answers your questions: Any natural treatments for jellyfish stings?

Jellyfish (photo credit: Thinkstock)
(photo credit: Thinkstock)
Q. Dear Natalie, I promised to take my children to the beach this summer however I am nervous since it is jelly fish season. Are there any natural treatments for jellyfish stings?
A. If you find yourself on the beach with no remedy to hand, then simply rinse the sting with seawater, cover it with sand and use the edge of a seashell to "shave" the area. This procedure removes the nematocysts without triggering the release of more venom. Make sure you do not touch tentacles with bare hands and do not rub the stung area.
Although there is the desire to, try to avoid rinsing with fresh water since this increases additional venom release. Vinegar is perhaps the most common remedy most used by life guards today. The acetic acid in vinegar stops nematocysts from releasing jellyfish venom. Generously soak the area with a vinegar compress for 15 minutes, and then you can use gloves or tweezers to remove the tentacles. Once removed, soak the area in vinegar again.
Another useful aid to pop into your beach bag is baking soda. Apply a generous layer of baking soda; this prevents nematocysts which have not been activated from releasing their venom. Leave it on for half an hour. Scrape the wet paste off with the edge of a sea shell (or a credit card). Afterwards rinse off with saltwater or vinegar. You can reapply this technique as often as needed.
Another simple tip is using citrus fruit. Fresh citrus juice squeezed from either lemons or limes contains acetic acid, therefore having a similar effect to vinegar.

Q. Dear Natalie, I suffer from dry itchy eyes. I have checked with my doctor and he says there is no infection and has given me permission to try any natural alternatives. Can you recommend any herbal remedies?
A. One of my favorite remedies when treating dry and itchy eyes is called Eyebright, or perhaps more commonly known as Euphrasia. This herbal remedy helps reduce itching and other eye related problems. It has astringent and anti-inflammatory properties on mucous membranes, and antibiotic properties useful in killing bacteria that cause eye infections.
You can use 2g to 4g of dried leaves steeped in boiling water for 15 minutes. Use this as an eye bath one to three times per day. It is also available as an ophthalmic solution and an oral remedy in capsules, liquid extract and tincture which can be found in any good health food store. Search for "Homeopathic Euphrasia eye drops".
Marigold, also known as calendula, is another wonderful herb that works to reduce inflammation. I recommend applying a marigold compress directly to your closed eyelids, avoiding direct contact with the surface of your eye. Try using Chamomile to help reduce inflammation and itchiness. If you would rather not apply anything topically to your eye, you can drink chamomile tea.
Otherwise allow the tea to cool and using a clean cloth dipped into the tea, use a cool compress against your closed eyelids.
Q. I suffer from prickly heat rash! As soon as I get too hot, begin to sweat my skin appears with a heat rash. Please help me!
A. This is a very common complaint from many of my clients. Several people suffer from this, particularly in hot, humid weather. Prickly heat occurs in blocked sweat glands generally in areas where skin folds such as inner thighs, elbows, armpits and groin. The perspiration is caught under the skin and this causes itching, prickling, or red lumps.
Begin by trying to cool your skin with cool compresses. There are many herbs, essential oils and supplements that also help to prevent skin rashes from the heat. A deficiency of essential fatty acids can increase the risk of skin rashes. Use evening primrose oil or borage seed oil supplements to help restore fatty acids. Cooling oils for red, inflamed skin include: rosemary oil, chamomile oil, and tea tree oil.
As a homeopathic practitioner, I have wonderful success using the homeopathic remedy Bryonia, or wild hops. This is used for red bumpy skin rashes with itching. Rhustoxicodendron is another useful homeopathic remedy used for skin rashes with blisters, severe burning and itching from excess heat. Depending on the severity, contact your local homeopath for exact dosage.
Chinese medical experts have discovered that the wonderful herbs of the mint family can be used for skin rashes. Mentha (mint) helps to bring the rash to the surface and cool the area.
Lastly, the gel from the long, fleshy leaves in the Aloe Vera plant have been long used to promote healing for heat related skin rashes. Aloe Vera is rich with salicylic acid, which is like an aspirin-like compound with pain-relieving benefits. It is particularly useful for prickly heat because of its antioxidant properties which work to unblock pores, and its anti-inflammatory properties which promote healing. To use aloe Vera gel simply cut a leaf from an aloe plant and drain out the sticky, clear fluid, then apply it to the affected area. Only use the leaf of a mature full aloe Vera plant to avoid stressing the plant. You can apply this as frequently as needed. This gel can of course also be bought from any health food store.
Natalie runs a clinic both in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem offering a wide range of natural treatment, including a women’s clinic every Wednesday. Healing is achieved using homeopathy, reflexology, massage, flower remedies and nutritional wisdom.

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Ask Natalie: If you have a health query and would like an alternative answer then email Natalie with your question at

This column is brought to you as general information only and unless stated otherwise is not medical advice nor is it based on medical experiments. This column is not a substitute for medical advice or treatment for specific medical conditions. For more information about specific problems, please contact a doctor.

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