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Monday, June 23, 2008

Keeping Mosquitos Away With Essential Oils

It's summer time again and along with it comes the host of those little winged creatures, buzzing around our ears and feasting on our flesh. No, it doesn't sound so wonderful, yet somehow neither does the thought of spraying DEET on ourselves, and our children's skin. Thankfully, many wonderful natural alternatives are available -- and the active ingredients in most of these are essential oils. In fact, some essential oils have been tested in the laboratory to be up to 10 times more effective at repelling mosquitoes than DEET. Your own natural formulation is exceptionally easy to make, and that way you'll find the base that suits your skin most. Many folks like using natural carrier oils on their skin, or something then like a witch hazel, rather than the semi-synthetic cream bases most often found.

Besides preventing insects from being attracted to you and your children personally, diffusing essential oils is a perfect way to keep mosquitoes and other biting insects from your living space. The same scent they find distasteful insect repelling lotions can also be diffused into the air. This can also work for flies, gnats and other winged, buzzing creatures. And thankfully most people find they enjoy the scents used for these purposes, especially in the summer time as they are often bright uplifting lemony aromas.

If you'd like to make a topical application, first select the base. the three most common choices are: an unscented lotion base, a water and witch hazel mixture, or any aromatherapy carrier oil. You can even add essential oils to your sunscreens, creating a wonderful dual-purpose blend. witch hazel is an unscented water-based plant extract that will help preserve your blend over the course of the summer; it is inexpensive and easy to find. A blend in water of witch hazel and water is very convenient, as it can be sprayed on the skin as well as your clothing, without worry of staining. The water and the witch hazel formula is made of one part witch hazel to three parts water; so if you were going to make 4 ounces of base, you would mix one else of the witch hazel with 3 ounces of water.

There are many essential oil formulations considered effective for repelling insects. The most common one used around the world is citronella, however in light of recent studies, there are certainly more effective oils available. A simple blend of thyme, lemongrass lavender and peppermint is described by Valerie Ann Woorwood in "The Complete Book of Essential Oils and Aromatherapy": 4 drops thyme linalool, 8 drops lemongrass, 4 drops lavender and 4 drops peppermint. This blend can be added to a lotion or carrier oil base, or the witch hazel formula, at the dilution of four drops per ounce.

Geranium and cedar wood essential oils are also very popular ingredients in natural insect repellent's, and can work excellently in combination with citronella for a very effective formula. To each ounce of base, add 80 drops of citronella, 15 drops of peppermint, 10 drops of cedar, seven drops of lemongrass, and two drops of geranium. This is an extra strength recipe that can also be used in a diffuser. A nebulizing aromatherapy diffuser will work best to keep insects from your living space, as it provides the highest concentration of the essential oils in the air. If applying this formula topically to children, dilute the essential oil concentration in half for preteens, and to one quarter for children over two this recipe is not recommended for the youngest ones, as the peppermint can be too strong. For the youngest children, use a one half percent each concentration of geranium and citronella. This blend would also make a wonderful diffuser recipe -- you may vary the ratios of these oils to suit your nose and to the distaste of the little winged creatures.

Perhaps the most underused essential oil for insect repellent action is that of catnip. Catnip and essential oil is quite potent, and has a very unique scent. It has been studied in comparison to DEET to have 10 times the efficacy. DEET is found in insect repellent formulas at a concentration of between five and 20%. With 10 times the efficacy, using only 2% catnip the oil in your recipe should give you a natural creation as strong as the most powerful extra strength inorganic formulas. You can add catnip oil to either of the above recipes, or use it alone if the aroma suits you. Catnip oil should be not used with small children, and some folks may find their skin sensitive to it. As with any essential oil, it is best to start with lower concentrations and work up to ensure a safe and healthy result.

Essential oils are also a fantastic way to soothe insect bites once they've already occurred. The anti-inflammatory of both lavender and blue tansy can see essential oils are commonly used for such purposes. Lavender can be used neat, applying one drop directly on the bite. Blue tansy essential oil should be diluted to less than 3% for best effect, as many aromatherapists believe it's anti-inflammatory and itch relieving properties will work best at these low dilutions.

*The FDA has not evaluated the statements on this website. The information presented here is for educational purposes of traditional uses and is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any diseases.

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