"Did you know that bananas help with mosquito bites?" That was a question asked by my son's 9 year-old friend, Alex while we were enjoying an unseasonably warm day in one of Brooklyn's crowded parks. After asking me to open the yellow fruit I had brought for a snack, I watched as Alex smeared the spongy underside of a banana peel over his pink welted forearm. "There," he reasoned. "Those bites don't bother me anymore."
While it would be deemed blatantly false to post "fast-acting itch relief" stickers on hands of bananas at your local green grocer, Alex did have a point: You don't always have to turn to over-the-counter serums to relieve what ails you.
Case in point, here are more surprising facts about bananas as well as 6 other summer remedies you'll find in your fridge.
I may sound, well, bananas, but the fruit (Musa acuminata) has a surprising number of uses besides pancake filling and ice cream topping. For example, in Jamaica the peel is pounded into a paste and then used to reduce swelling or extract splinters.
You say to-may-to, I say sunburn relief… While many swear that the summer fruit helps to heal sunburns, science thinks it’s better to use tomatoes (Solanum lycopersicum) preventatively, by lathering a thick paste onto the skin. Plus, it’s sure to give you a rosy tan.
Summer typically means exposure to swimming pool chemicals or salty water, both of which notoriously lead to hair breakage. Well, mayonnaise (a stable emulsion of oil, egg yolk and either vinegar or lemon juice), typically found in the picnic sandwiches we snack on after a swim, is also a key ingredient for a treatment that battles damaged hair.
The sweet stuff can be used to help heal small cuts and scrapes. “Honey (monosaccharides fructose and glucose) dehydrates the bacteria in a wound, making it clean and free from infection.” Wow! And as a bonus, your little one gets to lick the sticky spoon.
Nausea. The unwanted, icky feeling that sometimes accompanies sun-induced migraines. While there isn’t a home remedy that effectively does away with the pain, many have found that drinking peach (Prunus persica) or apricot nectar may help alleviate the nausea that comes along with the headache.
Rest at the end of a long summer day is very important. And potatoes (Solanum brevicaule) might help kids get a sound sleep after a day of endless activity. The potato reduces the action of acids in the stomach which threaten to interrupt sleep.
So we’ve all heard about the family that placed onions (Allium cepa) around the house to ward off the flu (still unfounded). While we don’t condone this act (your neighbors definitely will not appreciate the smell) there is some science behind the idea the onions may ward off summer cold symptoms. And don’t even think about vampires … that’s garlic.