Insects: Natural Repellents and Remedies


Healthy Living Blog By Dr. Tetreault


What’s all the buzz about? With summer fast approaching, we need our mosquito 101 basics to be in place. Here in Florida, we often joke that the mosquito is our official state’s bird. My apologies to the Norther Mockingbird. In fact, I just recently bought some amazing Naeem body cream at our local farmer’s market to ward off these pesky insects. The mosquito happens to be the Portuguese and Spanish word for little fly. Though little fly sounds harmless, the mosquito is considered one of the deadliest animals due to their historical spread of disease. These disease carrying insect have been seen in malaria, dengue, zica, encephalitis and many others. They have been the cause of 1,000,000 deaths a year worldwide.

Other pesky insects may include hornets, wasps, yellow jackets, and of course ants. Insect allergies are a big deal to some people and can create much havoc. So, what to do? Grandma believed in meat tenderizer, mother used a wonderful baking soda paste made simply with a mixture of water and baking soda. There is always Skin So Soft by Avon or of course, the farmer’s market Naeem to dissuade the pests from biting you in the first place. However once inflicted, there are some great ointments and remedies.

If you have ever had a severe reaction to an insect, you should have an epinephrine kit at all times or at least some bendadryl on hand before you call for help. If you are in the woods without access to remedies, mud applied to the sting area will help neutralize the pain or swelling. Citrus juice applied to exposed areas can also help repel certain insects.

Certain scents and foods can attract insects. These include consuming sugar or alcohol, and wearing perfume, hair spray, and other types of cosmetics. Alcohol creates dilation of the blood vessels and flushing of the skin which actually attracts both horse flies and mosquitoes. Also, having exposed skin whether bare feet, shoulders, or what have you is like a smorgasbord for these creatures.

Natural bugSome of the best home remedies beside the baking soda, of course, thanks mom, is apple cider vinegar, lemon, olive oil, and salt, and honey. Not necessarily together but like this. Apple cider vinegar works great as a repellant by spraying or rubbing undiluted vinegar onto your exposed skin. Just be careful, you may end up in someone’s salad. By adding equal parts of lemon juice to apple cider vinegar and dabbing it onto the site of infliction, actually reduces any pain or inflammation. Honey also has an analgesic effect by relieving pain if applied directly after a bee bite. A drop of olive oil works well and is useful for many types of insect bites. Lastly, making a saltwater decoction with an 8oz glass of warm water and ¼ teaspoon of salt will relieve any itching related to the healing process.

Urticaria which is an allergic reaction like hives that occurs whether from a food allergy, chemical exposure, or even an insect bite is very common. Many patients are seen in the office each year due to some type of allergic reaction. Depending on the patient presentation and as to how their body is responding to the allergen allows the practitioner to know if there is a toxic heat present or blood stasis in the channels. Certain acupuncture points help clear heat anywhere in the body and calm and nourish the blood allowing the immune system to play less havoc on the skin. There can be a disharmony in the body that can create deficiency which makes some people more sensitive to atopic dermatitis or even insect bites. As a practitioner, we nourish these areas and help regulate the immune response. Treatment is centered on the spleen and liver for nourishing blood and therefore enhancing proper immune response. When the patient has spleen deficiency whether by diet, aging, stress, lack of sleep, etc., they are often more compromised and tend to react more severely to an allergy or other immune related responses.

Other natural remedies consist of lavender oil which can help reduce inflammation and pain. An ice compress applied every few minutes after an insect sting  can reduce swelling as well. Some island remedies include crushed plantain leaves with the juice extracted to be used to greatly reduce pain and swelling. Grape seed extract is a powerful antioxidant and can used at 75 mg daily as an effective natural anti-inflammatory. Other wonderful natural remedies to ease itch and discomfort are mulberry leaf, honeysuckle, dandelion, and skullcap root.

So with the long summer days ahead full of camping, hiking, and picnics galore, remember these simple tips and remedies. Please make an appointment today to keep your immune system functioning optimally and ward off poor immune responses whether to stress or insects. 772-626-6419