Our favorite natural tips & products to keep away the bugs!
Written by Dr. Anjali Kasunich
Summertime is heating up and that means more bug bites! I don’t know about you, but mosquitoes have always loved me and have left me with multiple itchy bites. Thankfully, there are lots of ways to protect yourself from these biting insects.
Many synthetic bug sprays contain DEET, which is a chemical that can repel insects like mosquitoes, ticks and fleas. Issues around the safety of using DEET have come up over the past several years, and some studies have found that DEET may cause neurotoxicity in humans. While many experts still recommend using DEET products when traveling to areas that have Zika virus, malaria or other mosquito-borne illnesses, natural bug repellents have been a more popular choice for general protection.
Natural bug sprays use ingredients from plants to protect from bugs. Plants, in their infinite wisdom, make chemicals that keep many insects away. By harnessing this wisdom, and respectfully sharing the protection that plants have to offer, we too can keep many of the bothersome critters away.
Continue reading to learn about the best natural bug repellents and products!
Natural Bug Repellents
This is a common ingredient in most natural mosquito and bug repellants. It’s thought to work by masking the scent of people so that mosquitoes and other bugs are not attracted to them. Studies have found that citronella can effectively repel mosquitoes and reduce the incidence of bug bites.
Neem has long been revered in India for its antiviral, antifungal and antiparasitic properties. More recently, it’s been added to natural bug sprays to protect plants as well as people. One study found that neem oil preparations provided 3 hours of protection against mosquitoes.
Tea tree oil is commonly used on skin to address bacterial or fungal infections. Studies have found that tea tree oil can also repel insects like flies, mosquitoes, bush flies, and biting midges.
The soothing aroma of this plant is popularly used to help calm and anxiety and relax the nervous system. Lavender oil is also added to many natural bug sprays because of its ability to protect from mosquitoes. One study found that a solution containing lavender, eucalyptus, rosemary and thyme was effective at repelling mosquitoes.
Clove oil is commonly used in food, cosmetics, and natural pain-relievers for dental procedures. More attention has been given to its ability to also act as a natural insect repellent. It has even been categorized by the US EPA as a Minimum Risk Pesticide under Section 25(b).
Eucalyptus citriodora contains an ingredient called PMD (p-methane-3,8-diol). PMD is a highly effective and long-lasting mosquito-repellent, similar in efficacy to DEET. Additionally, PMD provided better protection against ticks than DEET.
There are lots of great natural products that have blends of the oils listed above.
Here are some of my favorite natural bug repellent products that you can find at our locations:
Some people choose to make their own bug repellent using the oils or essential oils of the plants listed above. This can be a great option for people who have sensitivities to certain ingredients. However, it’s important to remember that natural essential oils may irritate some people’s skin. That’s why it’s important to dilute the oils and test on a small area of the skin to check for any irritation before applying over the whole body.
For more information and recommendations, visit the Nutrition Department at any of our Erewhon locations! Our team members will be more than happy to answer your questions and help you find what you need.
Dr. Anjali Kasunich is a California-licensed Naturopathic Doctor, founder of Mantra Natural Medicine, and in-house health practitioner at Erewhon. She is passionate about helping people understand and heal what’s causing their symptoms, and getting them back to the basics of what they need to truly heal. When she’s not treating patients in her private practice, or supporting the wonderful team and customers at Erewhon, Dr. Anjali enjoys spending time with her husband and dog, dancing, and being in her garden. You can learn more about Dr. Anjali and her favorite healthy tips by visiting her website (DrAnjaliND.com), or Instagram (@DrAnjali_ND).