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 co-ordination 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.
It’s safe to say that you should skip the DEET, and now you have even more natural options to do so!