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Natural Insect Repellent

mosquitoUgh. We’ve only been snow-free for two weeks (thanks to that freak May snow storm we experienced at the beginning of the month), but it feels like the ticks, ants, mosquitoes, etc. are making up for lost time! So, I’m declaring a personal war on bugs. And in my arsenal? A variety of Essential Oils that are proven to repel those little biting things, as well as soothe the bites that are already there.
For years, I was one of those people who carried DEET around all summer long, just in case I was going to be spending some serious time outside with the local bug population. But, to perfectly honest, I hated the smell of the stuff, so I started looking for alternatives.

And I’m so glad I did! A study done by a Duke University Medical Center pharmacologist recommends “caution when using the insecticide DEET, after his animal studies last year found the chemical causes diffuse brain cell death and behavioral changes in rats after frequent and prolonged use.
His numerous studies in rats, two of them published last year, clearly demonstrate that frequent and prolonged applications of DEET cause neurons to die in regions of the brain that control muscle movement, learning, memory and concentration. Moreover, rats treated with an average human dose of DEET (40 mg/kg body weight) performed far worse than control rats when challenged with physical tasks requiring muscle control, strength and coordination. Such effects are consistent with physical symptoms in humans reported in the medical literature, especially by Persian Gulf War veterans, said Abou-Donia.
Children in particular are at risk for subtle brain changes caused by chemicals in the environment, because their skin more readily absorbs them, and chemicals more potently affect their developing nervous systems, said Abou-Donia.
“The take home message is to be safe and cautious when using insecticides,” said Abou-Donia. “Never use insect repellents on infants, and be wary of using them on children in general. Never combine insecticides with each other or use them with other medications. Even so simple a drug as an antihistamine could interact with DEET to cause toxic side effects. Don’t spray your yard for bugs and then take medications. Until we have more data on potential interactions in humans, safe is better than sorry.

So what are some safe, EFFECTIVE ways to repel bugs and treat thier bites?  DoTERRA Essential Oils have several blends and single oils that I’ve found work fabulously well (not to mention, smell incredible!) :

doterra insect repellentTerraShield essential oil blend contains 15 essential oils that have been proven to be more effective at repelling biting insects than synthetic repellents. A small amount of this blend will provide powerful coverage for up to 6 hours.  You can also diffuse it into the air or place a few drops on ribbons and strings, and place near air vents, windows, or openings where bugs might come in.

Also, melaleuca essential oil was found to be more effective than DEET at repelling head lice (Canyon et al. 2007), and Lavender essential oil is also an amazing natural protector.   It has been found to be comparable to DEET in its ability to repel ticks (Mkolo et al. 2007).  Lavender especially is also soothing to put on existing bites.

Lemongrass and Peppermint are also highly effective against insects ranging from chiggers to mosquitoes.

And as for potential side-effects?  Well, Lavender has been used successfully for centuries to bring relief from anxiety and stress.  It’s great to apply right before bed for a relaxed nights sleep.

Melaleuca is a powerful cleanser and has anti-bacterial properties.  Also great to add to shampoos and conditioners to leave hair feeling clean and soft 🙂

Peppermint is incredible at leaving you feeling cool and invigorated.  It also works really well when used with Lavender to calm headaches.

So, here’s to smelling good, staying healthy, and bug bite-free this summer!

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