It’s the height of summer. The days are long, the evenings pleasant, and it’s nice to be outside watching the sunset, enjoying the company of family and friends on the back deck, going camping, etc. Everything is going splendidly, that is, until you hear the high pitched hum of the pesky, little mosquito. Before you know it everyone is slapping at their extremities until they’ve had enough and decide to go indoors.
We spend all winter indoors; do we have to do it in summer too? Of course, you can always spray yourself with insect repellant like “Off” and stay outside, but what price are you paying? Insect repellants pose significant health risks that most people are not aware of.
The most common ingredient in repellants is DEET. DEET is highly toxic having been linked with behavioral changes and brain cell death in lab tests. Frequent use impairs motor coordination, learning, memory and concentration. Muscle and joint pain, headaches, fatigue, tremors, and shortness of breath also occur. Some products say they are DEET free, but have other active ingredients that may be harmful as well. The more common ones are picaridin and metofluthrin. Although not as toxic as DEET, they do have problems associated with them that may be as minor as skin irritation to neurotoxicity and liver tumors.
If we wish to enjoy the outdoors but want to avoid the use of chemicals, there are a few things you can do to keep the biting insects at bay:
Diet – Avoid salt and high potassium foods. Use fresh garlic in your foods, take 1-2 tablespoons of raw apple cider a day with adequate vitamin B1 (thiamine)
Clothing and personal products – Dark and brightly colored clothes attract insects, it’s best to wear white, pale, and neutral shades. Also, colognes and perfumes, as well as artificially scented hair products, soaps, and lotions can be a problem.
Essential Oils – Cedar, lemon, eucalyptus, citronella, lavender, tea tree, lemongrass and cinnamon oils are excellent bug deterrents. The oil of catnip is 10 times more potent at keeping mosquitoes away than DEET. Here are two recipes you can use with these oils:
- Mix 20 – 25 drops of catnip oil in two tablespoons of coconut, olive, or sunflower oil and apply liberally to the skin. Coconut oil also blocks out harmful sunrays, so you do get the benefit of a natural sunscreen by using it.
- Add two teaspoons of one of the essential oils listed above to a cup of 190proof grain alcohol (vodka is good, it should have no impurities) in a spray bottle. Shake well before using.
Getting bitten by mosquitoes can damper any outdoor activity. The bites itch, which not only drives you crazy, but scratching can cause infections if you do it too hard. Also, keep in mind that mosquitoes can carry diseases such as West Nile Virus. These natural remedies are an easy way to enjoy being outdoors while being safe from the mosquitoes and safe from potentially harmful chemicals.