It’s rare for large companies and organizations to endorse natural products, but it seems as though it’s finally occurred!
The Center for Disease Control & Prevention, who is notorious for supporting big pharma has finally admitted that there are natural alternatives that can help protect your family from West Nile virus and the Zika virus.
In fact, in a press release, the CDC announced that they had updated their list of recommended mosquito repellents to include two new active ingredients – picaridin and oil of lemon eucalyptus, “a plant-based mosquito repellent that provided protection time similar to low concentration DEET products in two recent studies” (1).
“We’re very excited that the number of options people have to protect themselves from mosquitoes and therefore West Nile Virus has increased,” said CDC Director Julie L. Gerberding. “Products containing DEET, picaridin and oil of lemon eucalyptus are all excellent choices.”
One such study showed that a mixture of 32 percent lemon eucalyptus oil resulted in more than 95 percent protection against mosquitoes for three hours. These results are thanks to its active compound, p-menthane 3,8-diol (PMD) (2)
Lemon eucalyptus oil can also prevent deer tick bites, treat muscle spasms, cure toenail fungus (onychomycosis), and relieve osteoarthritis and other joint pain (3).
The Problem with DEET
Although the CDC still recommends its use, DEET, the active ingredient in most bug repellents, is far from being family-friendly.
For one, DEET can cause allergy symptoms in non-sensitive individuals who aren’t typically affected by bug repellents (4).
As a toxic chemical, it can also cause side effects (5), including:
- Hives or blisters
- Redness and skin irritation
- Insomnia and mood changes.
- Eye irritation
- Breathing difficulty
- Poor concentration
Worse still, DEET is known to affect the brain and sensory system. Dr. Mohammed Abou-Donia of Duke University found that the substance negatively impacted the muscle coordination of lab animals.
He warns that combined with permethrin, another substance found in bug repellent, DEET could lead to motor deficits and learning and memory dysfunction (6).
Other chemicals often found in DEET-based repellents, ethyl and isopropyl alcohols and freon can also increase its toxicity as it makes its way into the gut and blood.
It’s no wonder, then, that it’s illegal for products containing DEET to make any child safety claims. The CDC even claims that the product should never be applied near children under the age of 6 and should be sprayed on clothing instead of skin.
They even recommend that any skin that may have come into contact with the product be washed with soap and water after use.
DIY Mosquito Repellent
- 30 drops of lemon eucalyptus essential oil blend
- 4 oz witch hazel
- 1 tsp. vanilla extract
- In a 50z glass spray bottle, add essential oil, extract, and witch hazel in this order.
- Spray on exposed skin every 4 hours.
- Here are a few other natural options that can be extremely effective as well.
Lavender smells great to us, but mosquitoes can’t stand it. Before heading outside, use a lavender-scented soap to wash your skin and rub lavender flowers or essential oil on your skin. You can also make a spray using 25 drops lavender
essential oil and ¼ cup organic apple cider vinegar. Spray on your clothing and patio furniture (7).
2. Cinnamon Oil
Cinnamon oil is an environmentally friendly pesticide that smells great, repels mosquitoes and kills their larvae. To use, combine 4 oz of water with 24 drops of oil and spray the solution on your skin, clothing, and home (8).
3. Thyme Oil
Thyme essential oil had a repellent, irritating and toxic effect on mosquitoes. It’s best to use a mixture thyme oil and clove oil in a 1:1 ratio to repel mosquitoes. Combine with a bit of witch hazel and spray on your clothing. It’ll provide protection for up to 2.5 hours. It’s best not to apply it to the skin since thyme can cause irritation (9).
4. Catnip Oil
Catnip essential oil is ten times more effective at repelling mosquitoes than DEET (10). It works against all types of mosquitoes in the United States, including yellow fever mosquitoes. It works for up to 2-3 hours and can safely be applied to the skin.
5. Soybean Oil
By combining soybean oil with lemongrass oil, you can repel various types of mosquitoes. Researchers have found that a 2% soybean oil mixture repels mosquitoes for 1-4 hours when applied to the skin. Better yet, you can use it safely on children and infants. You can also use it as a carrier oil for the oils on this list (11).
6. Tea Tree Oil
This oil naturally repels mosquitoes, bush flies, and biting midges. However, the oil can be irritating to the skin and even when it’s diluted, it shouldn’t be applied to the face (12).
You can make your own tea tree oil mosquito repellent by combining 16 oz. of jojoba oil, a few drops (about 1/8 oz) of tea tree oil. To make it more powerful, add 1/4 oz. of lavender oil. Top off with 16oz of vodka.
It’s safe to say that you should skip the DEET, and now you have even more natural options to do so!