Sunday, February 6, 2011

Lemon Eucalyptus Oil Natural Mosquito Repellant

Photo courtesy: dr relling

Mosquitoes are probably the most hated little insects in the world. Actually, it's only the female mosquitoes that bite; so, actually only about 50% of the mosquito population is to blame for their lousy reputations as miniature blood suckers.

In South Carolina, USA these little beggars can grow to the size of your average house pet. In the Yukon, you can throw a saddle on them and go for a ride. In the woods and forests of many countries, they are just an annoying vampiric foe who steals your blood; and leaves you with itchy little welts wherever they bit.

For most of us, mosquitoes are simply a nuisance. But in some parts of the world, they're much more than that. Mosquitoes and other biting insects spread disease and cause widespread fatalities. In fact, mosquito bites result in the deaths of more than 1 million people every year [source: WHO] from diseases such as rickettsioses, tick-borne meningoencephalitis, Lyme disease, dengue fever, West Nile virus, Eastern Equine Encephalitis and malaria. The majority of these deaths are due to malaria.

DEET (chemical name N,N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide) is very well known as an effective insect repellent; but, what is not so well known is that it is also a highly effective solvent. It may dissolve some plastics, rayon, spandex, other synthetic fabrics, leather, and painted or varnished surfaces including nail polish if left on the surface for a sufficient length of time.

If that isn't enough to convince the majority to change insect repellents to those containing no DEET, mull this over. DEET was developed by the United States Army, following its experience of jungle warfare during World War II. It was originally tested as a pesticide on farm fields, and entered military use in 1946 and civilian use in 1957.

Or looking at it another way, if the lotion of choice whether at a backyard barbeque or in the mosquito-infested swamps of goodnessknowswhere contains DEET, the user is smearing a pesticide developed as a result of jungle warfare that can also melt plastic onto their skin. The skin is an incredibly porous organ; and, anything applied to the skin does not stay there. Eventually, the ingredients enter the blood stream; and, no cell is left unharmed when that happens.

The most serious concerns about DEET are with the central nervous system:
Dr. Mohammed Abou-Donia of Duke University studied lab animals' performance of neuro-behavioural tasks requiring muscle co-ordination. He found that lab animals exposed to the equivalent of average human doses of DEET performed far worse than untreated animals.

Children with DEET toxicity reported lethargy, headaches, tremors, involuntary movements, seizures, and convulsions though the amount that led to this toxicity was unreported, according to the CDC.

For at-a-glance information, the activist group Beyond Pesticides keeps its own list of documented DEET health and environmental effects:

•Cancer: Not documented
•Endocrine Disruption: Not documented
•Reproductive Effects: Not documented
•Neurotoxicity: Yes
•Kidney/Liver Damage: Yes
•Sensitizer/Irritant: Yes
•Birth/Developmental Defects: Yes
•Detected in Groundwater: Yes
•Potential Leacher: Yes
•Toxic to Birds: Not documented
•Toxic to Fish/Aquatic Organisms: Not documented
•Toxic to Bees: Not documented
[source: Beyond Pesticides]

I'd rather take my chances with the mosquitoes and a natural substance that is proving to be just as effective.

The Centre for Disease Control (CDC) in the USA confirmed that lemon eucalyptus oil can be as effective as DEET in repelling mosquitoes, a story reported on Mattermore:
Oil of lemon eucalyptus [active ingredient: p-menthane 3,8-diol (PMD)], a plant- based repellent, is also registered with EPA. In two recent scientific publications, when oil of lemon eucalyptus was tested against mosquitoes found in the US it provided protection similar to repellents with low concentrations of DEET.
Mattermore reports that until recently, DEET was the only repellent recommended by the CDC, and approved for individual use by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). Oil of lemon eucalyptus is plant-based repellent oil made from leaves of Eucalyptus citriodora.

Ways to avoid mosquitoes this year.

1. A citronella candle works well to cover an area. Unfortunately, citronella doesn't remain potent for long on human skin so must be reapplied more often.

2. Wear light colors. Mosquitoes are attracted to dark colors. Changing your wardrobe can reduce your need for repellents.

3. Remove or cover all standing water near your home. This will induce the varmints to breed elsewhere.

4. Remain unscented. Mosquitoes are attracted to floral smells. Do not use scented soap if you wish to escape the wrath of the mosquitoes.

5. Ensure there are screen on all windows and doors so they can be opened to cool evening breezes without fear of mosquitoes.

6. If the area lived in is a mosquito magnet, try sleeping under a mosquito net at night.

7. These common plant oils repel mosquitoes; and, can be mixed with water to spray on either the person or the surrounding areas:

•Citronella Oil
•Lemon Eucalyptus Oil
•Cinnamon Oil
•Rosemary Oil
•Peppermint Oil
•Clove Oil
•Lavender Oil

Any of these plants can be used simply by crushing them and rubbing the oil on key areas like behind the ears and knees, inside the elbows, and on the ankles. If your skin is sensitive to the oils, try crushing a large handful of the plant inside a cloth then tying it around your neck.

Or, try this easy recipe:

1. Take a large handful of a couple kinds of the plants listed above (different mosquitoes are repelled by different plants, so it's best to use a mixture).

2. Place the plants in a food processor and chop them well.

3. Carefully add two cups of boiling water, steeping the chopped plants like tea.

4. Once the liquid has cooled, strain and refrigerate.

5. When you're ready to use, pour the cooled repellent into a spray bottle and apply liberally and frequently.

The final thing to remember when using these natural alternatives is that, while they may initially be just as effective as DEET-based sprays, they do not last as long. Take care to reapply frequently especially if it is raining or you are sweating.

With natural insect repellent there is no reason to stay inside this summer. Get outdoors and stay bite-free the green way.

No comments: