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Natural Bug Repellents and Bite Relievers

Natural Bug Repellents and Bite Relievers
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BY KITT WALSH

Even if we are trying to make the most of the healthful fresh air and sunshine that summertime brings, we often defeat our own best efforts by spraying ourselves with nasty stuff to keep insects at bay or to treat their stings or bites.

DEET (N-diethyl-meta-toluamide) is used in more than 230 bug repelling products to be applied to our skin and it is a chemical that melts plastic! It has been blamed for everything from memory loss to muscle tremors.

Another potentially harmful chemical found in many bug sprays is permethrin. This chemical is a member of the synthetic pyrethroid family–neurotoxins all. The EPA has even deemed this chemical carcinogenic, capable of causing lung tumors, liver tumors, immune system problems, and chromosomal abnormalities. Permethrin is also damaging to the environment, and is particularly toxic to bees and fish and will kill your cat.

There are more natural ways to deal with the pests of summer.

How to prevent bites:

–Stay inside at dawn and dusk, when bugs are the most active.
–Wear light-colored long sleeve shirts and long pants. Hats and socks can help, too.
–Get rid of standing water or stay away from it. Drain your grandkids’ play pool, store outside buckets upside down, empty the birdbath each night.
–Stay away from shrubby or tall grass areas of your yard. Plant marigolds around your pool or patio.
–Cool off and dry sweat before you venture out or as soon after outdoor exercise as possible. Body temps and skin chemicals (like lactic acid) attract mosquitos. An outdoor fan can help both keep you cool and blow the bugs away.
–Give up bananas for the season. How our body processes banana oil attracts mosquitos.
–Build a bat house (check Organization for Bat Conservation for instructions).
–Supplementing with one vitamin B1 tablet a day from April through October, and then adding 100 mg of B1 to a B100 Complex daily during the mosquito season to make you less attractive to mosquitoes. Consuming garlic or garlic capsules may help protect against both mosquito and tick bites.

How to repel biting beasts
–Wash with citronella soap and then put some pure citronella oil on your skin.
–Apply catnip oil (this is considered, in some studies, to be 10 times more effective than DEET.) Cinnamon leaf oil has also been found to work better than DEET.
–Mix some (clear) liquid vanilla oil (available online and from specialty bake shops.)
–Mix up a combination of a carrier oil, like olive or almond, add a few drops of vanilla, lemongrass oil, peppermint oil and citronella oil and spray all over your skin. You’ll smell great—just not to mosquitos.

What to use if you’ve been bitten or stung:

–Mix baking soda with water or witch hazel and apply the paste to the bite.
–Swipe a cool tea bag over the bite. The tannins will help reduce swelling.
–For lots of bites, put three cups of apple cider vinegar in your tub and soak (the vinegar helps the itching.)
–Other herbs and plants that can help reduce swelling or itching include aloe vera (break off a branch and squeeze the gel onto the site); calelunda, chamomile, lavender, basil, and peppermint can be steeped with a little hot water and then dabbed on to the site with cotton balls or apply the corresponding essential oils; organic honey, lemons, limes and cucumbers can be applied directly to the bites; neem or tea tree oil will help (and are antiseptic to help avoid infection) and cinnamon can be sprinkled on the dampened skin as an antifungal/antibacterial.
–Use hot or cold. Ice often helps and, since our nuero-receptors are the same for hot or cold, holding a metal spoon under hot water for a minute and applying to the bite may help the discomfort and, according to some studies, may actually deactivate the venom. (There are high tech versions of this such as the Therapik—a device that deliver targeted heat to the bug bite.)
–Tape it. Applying tight tape to the bite or sting can hold the swelling down and thus the pain and even the itch.

 

 

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