Could it be that the chilly spring temperatures of recent weeks are giving way to the warmer summer season? Certainly longer days and more sunlight are evident. And if the shedding undercoats of our two German Shepherds are any indication, we could be in for a hot one. Both are leaving larger-than-usual chunks of fur around the house as they dispense with winter coats. Probably somewhere in folklore, there’s an old wives’ tale about predicting the summer season based on how much wool you get out of a spring lamb shearing or some such! As we enter the warmer days ahead, the season presents opportunities to make smarter choices regarding health; choices that may not echo those touted by profit-motivated mainstream marketers. Sun, not sunscreen. Sunshine is good for us. The human body is designed to use sunshine to make vitamin D and for other good uses. Of course chemical companies want us to slather on sunscreen to save our skin from the deadly rays of the most important energy source to the planet. But a number of researchers confirm most chemicals in sunscreens are more dangerous than the sunlight they are supposed to block. The Environmental Working Group reviewed 1,014 sunscreen products. They found 86 percent of the tested sunscreens raised health questions: Either they do not provide protection from the sun, or they contain chemicals linked to conditions like cancer, allergies, skin irritation and other ailments (CosmeticsDataBase.com). Bad chemicals are easily absorbed through the skin. Last year, EWG’s stand on sunscreen was more emphatic than ever. EWG Senior Vice President for Research Jane Houlihan called most of the best-selling sunscreens in the U.S., “the equivalent of modern-day snake oil.” Other researchers have shown statistically that more lives would be saved by sunlight and the resulting increased vitamin D3 production of healthy exposure than are saved by blocking the sun with sunscreens. Norwegian researchers at the Institute for Cancer Research in Oslo found that doubling sunlight exposure would result in 300 more cases of skin cancer. But the improved vitamin D3 intake would prevent 3,000 cases of other cancers. That is a tenfold benefit if we just get off the sunscreen/sun ban bandwagon. Sensible exposure to sunlight is safer. Don’t bug me, man! Summer means insects. We run from everything. Some buggy bothers are indeed an annoyance, but mainstream media would have us believe every bug bite will lead to death by some bizarre, exotic disease. So we spray and douse our skin with more cancer-causing chemicals in an effort to ward off the wigglers and the skeeters. Fortunately, a safer, natural approach can be as effective in keeping us bug-free as laboratory chemicals have been in the past. The Center for Disease Control just confirmed that oil of lemon eucalyptus was tested against mosquitoes and it provided protection similar to repellents containing DEET, a toxic ingredient long preferred by chemical companies. Recent reports of toxicity in animals and children have prompted consumers to seek DEET alternatives, but until now the CDC has not endorsed any other plant-based product. There are other natural and safe means of repelling insects and perhaps this endorsement will convince many to seek them. Get a horse(radish)! Summer allergies, lumped into the designation “hay fever,” ramp up when the season arrives. Dr. James Duke writes in The Green Pharmacy , “There’s nothing like a bite of fresh horseradish to clear the sinuses. Glenn Geelhoed, M.D., reported that ‘a daily dosage is necessary only until symptoms of allergy subside. Thereafter, you need only a few teaspoons of horseradish each month to prevent another allergy attack.’” Balancing a confused immune system seems to be the key; and taking drugs to simply fight the symptoms of runny nose, bleary eyes and itchiness doesn’t help. And drugs have side effects. Honey, vitamin C, stinging nettle, garlic and gingko are other natural remedies that can help you avoid drugs when it comes to summer allergies. Consulting Dr. Dukes’ book will give plenty of options. Pull weeds. Plant seeds. They litter the porch with flyers. They call you on the phone. Ads on television show you smiling faces and envious neighbors. Their trucks are skinned with images of happy dogs. They are the lawn care companies selling you poisons for your property. They want your business and they are willing to tell you poison is safe in order to get it. Is vanity over a little patch of grass worth mortgaging health? During summer, tanker trucks park on our boulevards for 10 minutes and after they leave there is a smelly mist in the air and a little flyer staked into the ground warning us not to walk on the grass. Why? That stuff they just sprayed kills things. And generally speaking, things that kill things aren’t all that friendly to living things. If the lust for a green, weed-free lawn overcomes you, try the option of pulling the weeds and over-seeding to grow a healthy lawn that doesn’t require poisons. Got grubs? There is a safe nematode that will attack them for you. Need fertilizer? Get some organic chicken poop. It works fine. There are now enough safe-minded, organic lawn care companies in the area that if you don’t want to do it yourself, they’ll be happy to. Just consider what chemicals can do in the long run. Don’t forget to look up. Turn on. Tune in. Drop off … to sleep. Weather radio technology has reached the point where one can selectively filter unwanted warnings. Leave the WR on at night and it alerts you only if danger is imminent for your immediate area. That saves a lot of annoyance and could keep you safe in a tornado. But don’t let technology stunt your innate common sense weather observation. Watch the skies! Safe summer to all. Be well.