Natural Herbal Insect Repellents
Reviewed by Herbalist, Rasheeqa Ahmad on 20 July, 2019
May Flowers, Summer Showers, Bugs and Beneficence!
Summer has finally arrived and we certainly deserve it here in the UK! A few days of brilliant sunshine and we are all enjoying Gaia in her budding and blossoming glory! Whilst I love all Mother Earth’s creeping, crawling creatures I do not always want them in my home and I certainly do not wish to be stung or bitten! Rather than stamping and swatting why not assume a more magnanimous beneficent and pro-actively responsible approach by deterring and preventing harm to ourselves and other beings whenever possible. The answer is to create some natural herbal insect repellents.
Mosquitoes feed most frequently at dawn or dusk so it makes sense to cover up and slather on the products at these times. It is a good idea to also diffuse essential oils such as citronella in your living space during the early morning and late evening. Bees and wasps may be startled if you wave your arms around and shout so do try to stay calm, centred and mindful. If a bee or wasp lands upon you try blowing very gently and lovingly upon it, hopefully this may be a signal which convinces the inquisitive buzzing one it’s time to buzz off!
Homemade insect repellents are safe, effective and easy to make and with the addition of essential oils smell gorgeous! All beings benefit from the use of essential oils. By choosing not to use toxic chemically based products we are abstaining from polluting our beautiful planet, what’s not to like! Natural Insect repellents made from essential oils can deter insects rather than killing them. Insects react to the composition and scent of various essential oils and are deterred and repelled by particular oils which they find distasteful.
These are some of the most popular Carrier and essential oils which deter biting insects; it is not an exhaustive list.
- Castor Oil
- Eucalyptus and Lemon Eucalyptus
- Rose Geranium (ticks)
- Tea Tree
I usually like to make one oil based preparation using 1 part essential oil(s) with approximately 10/15 parts carrier oil. I like to use cold pressed neem and castor oil with macerated calendula oil in equal proportions as the carrier oil. If I were travelling to an area where mosquitoes may be prevalent I would certainly consider including a few drops of yarrow tincture to the mix.
A well formulated oil based preparation will be nutritive as well as preventative. This may be used all over the body avoiding thesensitive eye area. A good oil based preparation will support and nourish sun parched skin.
I also like to make a spray which again may be used all over the body. When using a spray, do be mindful of the eye area and also of spraying any delicate fabric. I would again aim for 1 part essential oil(s) to 10/15 parts of liquid. My preferred diluting agent would be equal parts of pure distilled witch hazel and distilled water or spring water. I may also add a few drops of colloidal silver to this mixture (optional).
I also like to carry a gel formula which may be rubbed into the skin. I love to store this in the fridge and use as a soothing after sun with benefits! I would use aloe vera gel as the basis for this calming gel. Once more if I were planning to visit an area where the little buzzers love to bite, I would also add a few drops of goldenseal tincture to this preparation. If you are travelling PET jars and bottles are the perfect travelling containers.
I usually use 100ml alpha amber spray bottles for any spray preparations. If you wish to make a bug beating body lotion add your chosen essential oils to a good quality base cream such as Olive Tree Rich Base Cream.
If you prefer a lighter body cream choose the Olive Tree Light Base Cream.
Here is an example of an effective mosquito repellent.
Do be creative and allow your intuition full reign.
Experiment with the oils you feel drawn to.
3 drops citronella
3 drops cedarwood virginia
3 drops Peppermint
3 drops organic lavender
8 drops Serendipity Organic Neem oil
20ml distilled witch hazel, 20ml distilled or spring water and 20ml yarrow tincture.
Mix all ingredients in a 100ml alpha amber bottle with spray atomizer and shake well before use.
All insect repellents need to be re-applied throughout the day especially after swimming and vigorous exercise.
There are several supplements which may help to combat mosquitoes.
Thiamin also known as vitamin B1 releases a smell through the skin which most mozzies find repugnant! Take up to 150mg daily prior to and during travelling. Taking up to 5,000mg of a high quality vitamin c may help to alleviate inflammation and pain associated with insect bites, vitamin C also supports wound healing. Taking 200 iu (International Units) of vitamin E prior to and during your trip may reduce the swelling associated with insect bites. If you are bitten by mosquitoes consider employing the following remedies:
- Take echinacea and goldenseal tincture. We love Natures Answer Echinacea and Goldenseal Alcohol Free Fluid Extract ~25 drops x3 daily.
- Apply Organic tea tree oil directly to the bite.
- Granary Herbs Calendula Cream is antiseptic and may relieve the irritation and itching.
- Make an infusion of nettle tea and wash the affected area.
- Dab Biona Organic Mother Apple Cider Vinegar over the bites and areas of irritation.
- Thyme and rosemary essential oils mixed with cider vinegar are helpful in relieving pain.
- Aloe vera gel mixed with a few drops of calendula tincture and used straight from the fridge may provide relief to swelling and soreness.
- Calendula macerated oil may be applied to bites which have become sore and irritated.
If you are travelling to an area where Malaria is prevalent please seek the advice of a healthcare practitioner before travelling.
Natural Herbal Insect Repellents – Midges
If you are bitten by midge’s anti-inflammatory Lavender oil and antiseptic Tea Tree oil may be swabbed over the affected areas. A strong infusion of lime flower tea is believed to be a reliable home remedy for insect bites. Making a paste from organic fine oatmeal and strong marigold tea may provide soothing, calming relief to sore and swollen skin. You may also add lavender and tea tree oils to macerated calendula oil and apply directly to the skin. Strong infusions of Lime flowers and marigold herb may be added to bath water; either strain and add directly to bath water or put the herbs in a muslin cloth which is then tied into a bundle and added to the bath water.
Natural Herbal Insect Repellents – Ticks
When out enjoying the countryside or a woodland walk we may discover a tick has attached itself and is accompanying us on our journey! If this occurs remove the tick with tweezers and apply a few drops of Rose Geranium and neem oils. As ticks are sometimes carriers of Lyme disease you may also wish to take Hypericum tincture 20 drops in a little water x3 daily. As Lyme disease is a vast and complex subject we will not go into great detail here. If you have been walking in an area where ticks abound have a shower when you return home. Scrub your body all over with a good body brush or loofah. If you feel the possibility of Lyme disease may be an issue for you we would strongly recommend that you contact a healthcare practitioner.
Natural Herbal Insect Repellents – Bees
If you are unfortunate enough to be stung by a bee the first priority is to remove the venom sac; look for a black spot in the bite area and use tweezers to pull it out then wash the wound. The following tried and tested home remedies may be used to treat bee stings (after extracting the venom sac):
- Mix activated charcoal powder with distilled witch hazel forming a paste. Apply this directly to the site of the sting.
- Make a paste with aluminum free baking soda and Yellow Dock tincture and apply directly to the area affected.
- Swab the skin with apple cider vinegar.
- Swab the skin with pure authentic rosewater
- Apply aloe vera gel directly from the fridge.
(You may add a few drops of colloidal silver to all of the above.)
- Pure Papaya ointment may offer comfort to distressed skin.
- Calendula ointment is antiseptic and soothing.
Some people have a severe allergic response to bee stings which requires emergency treatment. If you experience any of the following please seek medical attention immediately
- Hives and itching
- Pale flushed skin
- Distressed breathing
- Swelling of the tongue and throat
- A rapid weak pulse
- Nausea, vomiting or diarrhoea
If you receive multiple stings do seek medical attention
Natural Herbal Insect Repellents – Wasps and Hornets
If you are stung by a wasp or hornet try some of the following folklore remedies.
- Cover the skin with a paste of aluminium free baking soda and distilled witch hazel
- Swab the skin with organic cider vinegar
- Apply slices of onion to the site of the sting and hold there for 10 minutes; Onions may reduce inflammation and pain.
- Apply organic lavender and tea tree oils directly to the site of the sting.
- Rub macerated calendula oil liberally onto sore skin.
As with bee stings some people have severe allergic reactions to wasp stings. If you experience an extreme reaction please seek medical advice immediately.
Many of these remedies take time to work often between 15 minutes to one hour. If discomfort returns re-apply the chosen remedies.
If in any doubt do seek medical advice
Considerate cautions and delicate disclaimers:
- If you experience any extreme or severe reactions after being bitten or stung please seek medical advice.
- If you are travelling to an area where malaria is prevalent please seek the advice of a chosen health care practitioner.
- If you are pregnant and/or breastfeeding we would encourage you to empower yourself with knowledge regarding natural remedies and essential oils and choose appropriately ~ if in doubt please consult your midwife or healthcare practitioner.
If you would prefer to buy some ready made natural products here are some we heartily recommend
- A Vogel Neem Care Herbal Insect Repellent 50ml £5.25
Please share your own tried and tested remedies, we love reading your comments!
Happiest halcyon days!
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