Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Alternatives to Chemical Mosquito & Insect Repellents

I am sure almost everyone is aware of the dangers of DEET (N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide), especially when it comes to children, who are particularly sensitive to the chemicals in this “deep woods mosquito repellent”. The Hazardous Substance Data Bank reports, “toxicity to be primarily neurologic (i.e. seizures, movement disorders, coma)…children suffer from confusion, ataxia, hypertonicity and clonic jerking progressing to coma and seizures may occur after acute oral or chronic dermal exposure.”
Yikes! The EPA states that 60% of what you put on your skin enters your bloodstream and every organ in 26 seconds – think about that! Doesn’t it make you want to think twice, or even 3X or more about what you put on your skin, and especially that of your children? I came across an article today that certainly made me put my thinking cap on. I thought of my friend who is greatly bothered by deer flies when she runs, and she resorted to DEET. I don’t know if natural remedies will deter deer flies, but I would want to try!
Since my family shares our home with a parrot, we are always careful about what fumes we generate from cleaning products, and went “green” years ago when we raised parrots. For instance, a couple weeks ago I needed an ant killer, but I did not want to subject myself to the xenoestrogens rampant in pesticides. (See the sidebar for several articles on xenoestrogens and how they affect our bodies.) I searched the internet and found that I could add some typical household borax to sugar water, and set it out for the ants to drink. They then carry this back to the nest – borax will dry an insect from the inside out. Some sugar ants had found some candy for clients on my desk at work…this concoction seemed to work, although a number of the tiny ants drowned in the solution as well.
If we know we are going to spend an evening outside, I recommend we have a lunch with garlic generously added to our meal. I know that garlic can seep through your skin and mosquitos don’t care for it.
Citrus has always been recommended for repelling bugs and mosquitoes. Lemon thyme, lemon geranium and such make good plants to put near an outside door or around the yard. I used to plant tansy and basil and rub the leaves on my arms, but have not planted those particulars in years.
A couple weeks ago I received a newsletter report from “one of the docs” which stated that 100 mcg Vitamin B1 (thiamin) repels mosquitoes – I am not sure about this idea, but noted that the vitamin supplement we take in our home has 5 times the B1, and with an absorption rate of 10,000 ORAC – the vitamin is actually absorbed and can transmit an odor mosquitoes apparently do not like through the skin vs. going in the toilet.
You can plant citrus smelling perennials and run the leaves on your skin. I used to do that. I found that a citrus smelling mist called Awaken can help thwart mosquitoes – I mist our hair and face (having my daughter cover her eyes) as well. Everyone’s body chemistry is different, however, and citrus mists and oils may not work for everyone.
I certainly don’t have the natural repelling answer, if I did, I would be rich! Basically, if we know we are going to be in ‘skeeter infested outdoors, it is smart to wear jeans, closed toe shoes, loose fitting long sleeve cotton shirt (no matter how hot), and give the bugs as little skin to get a hold of you as possible.
Dr. Lee recommends a product health food stores may carry called Herbal Armor Spray and Lotion. (I also found it on amazon.com) Reviews on Herbal Armor are even positive regarding deer flies and those annoying gnats!
Don’t use flowery smelling shampoos or the bees might be attracted to you as they will try to find the source of the smell in your hair. A favorite web site of mine, and Dr. Lee’s, is http://www.gardensalive.com/ Their catalog is very informational, and the site even more so. Good luck outrunning the insects this summer, and finding a less toxic way than DEET to repel them.

To your health!
Rita S.

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