|Get de-bugged naturally||Jul. 29, 2012|
|Written by: Marilyn Linton, QMI Agency|
|Eschew spraying on the chemicals and try holistic insect repellents|
Searching for an insect repellent to take camping last summer, Toronto naturopathic doctor Lisa Watson turned to her kitchen instead of the store. Pregnant at the time and mom to a 3-year-old, there was nothing commercially available that wasn’t loaded with chemicals.
“I was actually surprised that there was so much information on different plant-based insect repellents,” she says. “The more I read, the more it made sense because plants have compounds in them with the ability to naturally repel insects.”
And even though the U.S. Centers for Disease Control recommends DEET as one of the most reliable of repellents, many of us are searching for more natural alternatives to slather on our skin.
“I think the trend towards green is a universal one,” adds Watson. “When we are looking at something like DEET, a powerful solvent, the thought of putting it on skin, a highly permeable organ, and the realization that you can’t use it on children under the age of 12, makes us think twice.”
One of her kids’ favourite repellents is made from undiluted vanilla essential oil. “This is not vanilla extract,” says Watson, “because that actually attracts insects. Vanilla essential oil is found at health food stores and can be applied to pulse points, ankles and behind the ears — places that insects seem to zoom into.”
On her website drlisawatson.com, Watson posted a favourite mixture she developed against mosquitoes, black flies and ticks.
Called the Great White North Mix, it calls for equal parts of various essential oils including cinnamon, lemon eucalyptus, peppermint, vanilla, lemongrass and geranium. These are mixed with two tablespoons of alcohol or grapeseed oil, stored in a small spray bottle and sprayed onto skin, clothing, or patio chair cushions every couple of hours or after swimming.
“When it comes to warding off bug bites, I recommend a topical essential oil blend,” says naturopath Sara Henderson, scientific adviser to Jamieson Laboratories.
“For example, diluted tea tree oil is a wonderful topical antiseptic agent and bug repellent. It is cheaper than conventional bug spray and devoid of harmful chemicals.”
Taking extra vitamin C helps to reduce the inflammatory reaction after a bug bite, she adds. In Calgary, homeopath Linda Miller has developed MoziQ, (mozi-q.com), an oral homeopathic anti-mosquito repellent now approved by Health Canada. The product, which costs $25 for 60 doses, has been sold for three years from Xerion Homoeopathie, the Calgary clinic where Miller works.
She says she developed the formula based on a homeopathic remedy that is more than 200 years old and includes compounds from plants such as stinging nettle, marsh tea, and delphinium staphisagria.
“In my practice, I am always meeting people who are interested in a more holistic, less chemical-laden lifestyle,” she says. “Some people even prefer to load up on garlic — an effective deterrent, yes, but then there’s that smell pouring out of you.”
B1 for bees?
Some people swear that taking extra vitamin B1, thiamine, can influence how you smell to an insect. But naturopath Sara Henderson says no sound research exists to support the theory that people with higher levels of B vitamins are less attractive to bugs.
Bounce fabric softener sheets and Vicks VapoRub are two products that are rumoured to protect against bug bites. But according to snopes.com, an urban legend debunking site, neither is true. Rumour also has it that Avon’s Skin So Soft lotion protected men in jungle combat. Now, the lotion is also sold as a DEET-free bug guard at avon.ca.
A recipe to repel ticks from abchomeopathy.com: 20 drops rose essential oil or eucalyptus essential oil 2 tbsp vegetable or olive oil 1 tbsp aloe vera gel Mix the ingredients together, shaking to blend well. Keep in glass jar. Use a few drops on skin or clothes.
|MORE COLUMNS BY MARILYN LINTON, QMI AGENCY|