Since it’s been found that some diseases can be carried and spread through insect bites, the media is all over it. As much as they go on about something like this, they seldom offer a natural solution to the problem that really works.
Even though there is much information out there about how we can take care of ourselves, it takes some living and experience and/or time to know what’s true and what’s not. Information that can help us doesn’t always show up as quickly as we need it.
DEET – Should You Use It?
Probably the recommended chemical of choice to keep bugs at bay is DEET. (Don’t stop here and rush out to get some. Read more before making that decision.)
As you probably know DEET is in hundreds of products — and sometimes in concentrations up to 100%. It’s been shown to harm brain and nervous system functions although most accounts you read say that has not been proven. (I’ve noticed that’s usually what most proponents of any harmful substance say when studies show it to be harmful.)
Rashes, numbing or burning lips, dizziness, disorientation, headache, skin irritation, difficulty concentrating, and nausea are also attributed to using DEET.
Recently I read about a study of National Park Service employees where 25% of them reported some type of health effect attributed to DEET.
Many Natural Products Are Just as Effect
There are many natural things you can use that are just as effective or more so than DEET. The “naturals” usually give protection from 6 to 8 hours. That might not be as long as DEET, so just reapply after 6 hours.
A Teacher Reports What Park Rangers Told Her Class
Couple of months ago I was in line to check out at our small, local health food store. The lady in front of me (who was a teacher) was talking to the owner about just having come from one of the area’s state parks with her class. The subject of tick and mosquito protection had been brought up.
The park rangers told the kids they use citronella essential oil and Badger Balm for protection. (Badger Balm would be the carrier for the essential oil.)
In case you don’t already know, Badger Balm is olive oil, beeswax, castor oil, aloe extract and the essential oils of birch and wintergreen. It’s an organic product that the company says contains no petroleum or chemicals of any kind. (In spite of being certified organic, I think some of the oils in their products may not be organic because they can’t get them for one reason or the other.)
A little of these balms go a long way!
It wasn’t clear to me if the rangers used the product that Badger offers which has citronella already mixed with the Badger Balm or if they used the plain balm and added their own essential oil.
My guess is they use the all in one product for convenience. Badger’s product for bug protection is a mixture of essential oils like citronella, cedar, lemongrass, rosemary and geranium which all have bug repellent properties.
Most essential oils can be mixed to receive the benefit from more than one at a time. You’ll easily see that when start looking around for information.
Many Essential Oils Repel Insects.
The Rangers told the kids they could also use cedar wood essential oil or lavender essential oil as well as the citronella.
Lemon eucalyptus is an excellent one and has been proven to be just as effective as DEET.
Mixtures -Getting the Benefits from Many Oils
Bill always kept a product called Bug Barrier ointment (now called Bug Block in stick form) in his “emergency kit” when he was out painting in the field.
It’s a mixture of the following insect repelling essential oils and Beeswax.
• Lemon Grass
• Tea Tree
• Echinacea Oil
• Botanical Menthol
• Neem Oil
• Unbleached Beeswax
It’s organic and herbs are wild harvested whenever possible. 100% pure plant essential oils, with NO inert or inactive ingredients.
Thus, you’re getting the maximum concentration for potency and effectiveness in this product by Dr. Richard Schulze.
The real thing is going to cost more than something diluted. For example on some products you’ll see a certain percentage of the essential oil (let’s say 30%) and 70% inert ingredients. They could be harmful or not. You have no way to know. In most cases their main purpose would be to dilute the oil and therefore keep the price low. So be aware of that when you’re looking.
Want to Mix Your Own?
If you want to buy the essential oils and mix them in a carrier yourself or use just one, you’ll want the most reputable companies. If you’re interested, but don’t want to do all the homework on essential oil, there are some folks out there that have already invested all kinds of time looking for the best companies.
Don’t Want to Take a Year to Research?
The young woman who writes the web site WholeNewMom did an entire series on essential oils. I thought she did an outstanding job!
You can read all the details yourself on her site. She answers about every question you can think of. After MUCH research she ended up recommending Rocky Mountain Oils and/or Neal’s Yard Remedies. After checking them out, I would be inclined to go with her recommendation.
So What Do I Use?
I still have Bill’s unopened tube of Bug Barrier which I’ll keep just in case.
I could count on one hand the times I used the spray form of Bug Barrier that we use to keep at the back door. Mainly I used it when May flies came out. And every once in a while there would be a day that mosquitoes were worse than usual.
Other than that I don’t use anything.
If you’re bothered by mosquitoes, ticks, and other bugs, being outdoors is not as much fun. Having something like a good essential oil or a mixture of good essential oils can really make a difference. And make that difference safely.
We all know that improving the health of our soil will make our gardens better able to fend off pest and disease attacks. A health body that has the right nutrition will create a strong immune system and help make us “unappealing” to bugs. And if we are bitten, our immune system will be able to take care of it for us.
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