Natural Notes on Health - Bug Me Not With Home Grown Plants

Bugs have been in an overabundant supply around these parts in case you haven’t noticed.

To keep them from biting you, most mainstream sources provide information suggesting the use of DEET based insect repellants. This information is spread widely through various media outlets but does not include the dangers of DEET.

DEET is a neurotoxin and is unsafe for children. It may not be safe for adults, pets or the environment. Avoid using repellants containing DEET.

DEET, or diethyl-metatoluamide, can cause an array of health problems ranging from dizziness to death. After application to the skin DEET is absorbed into the bloodstream, and remains up to several months or more depending on one's ability to detoxify. Side effects may include rashes, skin eruptions, nausea, dermatitis, scarring, muscle cramps, irritability, lethargy, seizures, cerebral swelling, cardio-respiratory arrest, and fatal encephalopathy.

The American Academy of Pediatrics state that DEET is not considered safe for any child under the age of 5. Poison Control Centers reported more than 6700 reactions to insect repellants in 1995, with 4300 related to children 6 and under. A 26 year old man died after using DEET twice according to ABC news. An 8 year old boy suffered seizures after being sprayed twice with DEET. DEET is toxic to children when it is used in the home by others.

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."

Some things you can do include eliminating standing water, and using select plants, birds, bugs, fish, and amphibians - gifts of nature - that help control mosquitoes and other pests.
Safe Mosquito Repellant
• Yarrow tincture - when outdoors spray skin every hour. You can also make a healing ointment with yarrow flower tops and oil or fat. Yarrow oil is antibacterial, relieves pain, and helpful in healing all types of wounds. A US Army study showed yarrow tincture to be more effective than DEET for repelling ticks, mosquitoes and sand flies.
• Peppermint is known to repel ants, mosquitoes, ticks, spiders, mice, et al.
• Planting mint near your doorway acts as a repellant. Placing clay pots planted with mint close to your doorways works too.
• Eating bananas draws mosquitoes by increasing the amount of carbon dioxide given off when you breathe. Mosquitoes are attracted by this gas.
To make a safe insect repellant you will need:
• Pure Peppermint Essential Oil
• Distilled Water or carrier oil of your choice. Avoid selecting oil sold in plastic bottles.
• Glass or PET plastic spritzer bottle

To make a 2% solution place 2 ounces of distilled water in the spritzer bottle. Add 25 drops of pure peppermint essential oil to the bottle.

To make a 5% solution, add 50 drops of pure peppermint essential oil to 2 ounces of water.

Shake well and spray into the air, near doors, along the baseboards, or on your skin.

The 2% solution may be used for pets. Spray it on your hand and rub it gently on your pet, or take a piece of cotton fabric and tie it on your pet's collar, then apply the repellant to the cotton.

We also suggest Green Ban herbal powder for people and pets.
The American Chemical Society, the world's largest scientific society, and an Iowa State University research group discovered that catnip also repels cockroaches.

Nepetalactone, catnip’s active ingredient, is about 10 times more effective than DEET. Most commercial insect repellents contain about 5 percent to 25 percent DEET. Presumably, much less catnip oil would be needed in a formulation to have the same level of repellency as a DEET-based repellent.

Using DEET in repellents is extremely troubling.

Catnip is a member of the mint family and can be used in the recipe above.

The herb Neem, its oil and essential oils of Basil, Lemon Grass, Citronella, Lemon Eucalyptus (high in the same compounds as citronella) and Palmarosa also may be effective repellants.

Author's Bio: 

Dr. Eversole is unique in the field of natural health care. She has been studying and using natural health for more than 50 years, and combines her work with her more than 30 years of experience in the health care industry.
She is a popular educator, speaker, author, provider and consultant to others in non-mainstream medicine and the medical field alike.
She is founder and director of the non-profit 501 c3 organizations: Creating Health Institute, blending science and natural healing, and The Oake Centre for natural health education.