Dear Natalie, It’s that time of year again where I feel like the mosquitoes are on a mission to devour me! I dread sitting in the garden with the family and I have no choice but to lather myself in heavy duty mosquito repellent ,otherwise I really suffer the consequences. Are there any effective natural alternatives I can use as a mosquito repellent? Yours Gratefully, Bat Sheva, Modiin.
Dear Bat Sheva, I can truly sympathize and assure you that I know very well from my own personal experience just how you feel. Before I discovered a natural solution for mosquito repellent, I, too, would be eaten alive by mosquitoes. I once read somewhere: “If you think you are too small to make a difference...try sharing a bed with a mosquito!” Oh so very true!
Since you have a garden, I would begin by creating an environment that has been known to repel mosquitoes and other biting insects. The best herbs to plant are: Citronella (lemon balm, lemon verbena, lemon grass), Geranium, Eucalyptus, Mint and Lavender. Besides adding visual beauty to your garden, these herbs can also be used in teas, cooking and for creating your own repellent for when you are out and about.
To make your own “portable” natural mosquito repellent, boil 1 cup of water and add 3 tablespoons of your chosen herbs. I like to use one tablespoon each of citronella, lavender and peppermint. Drain the water into a separate container and add 1 cup of witch hazel. Pour the mixture into a spray bottle and use as needed. I keep one bottle with me when I go out and another in the fridge at home, which also makes it a great cooling spray that smells great, too!
Another effective way to protect yourself and perhaps one that is easier, especially for those who don’t have a herb garden, is to use essential oils. One simple way is to mix 20 drops of citronella oil into 30ml. of coconut oil and spread over exposed areas of your skin. Citronella oil is extracted from the leaves of the lemon grass plant. It contains many compounds like citronellal, citronellol, geraniol, citral and limonene, all of which have mosquito-repelling properties. It is almost as effective as DEET (a commonly used chemical-based mosquito repellent).
I like to mix it with a base oil such as coconut oil, since it contains unsaturated fatty acids and emulsifiers that slow down the evaporation of the essential oils’ repellent molecules.
If you want to make a two-in-one – by that I mean a repellent as well as an “after-bite reliever” – you can use tea tree oil or peppermint oil. Besides their strong aromas that keep mosquitoes at bay, they have powerful antiseptic and anti-inflammatory properties that both prevent and heal mosquito bites quickly.
If using oil sounds too messy to you, then use an oil-free base such as apple cider vinegar. Not only is it a “mess free” alternative, it is also an effective base due to its slightly acidic pH on the skin, and also helps repel mosquitoes.
Begin by mixing equal parts of apple cider vinegar and water (50ml. of each). Add 20 drops of any of the above mentioned essential oils. Lavender oil is a personal favorite of mine since the smell is so divine! Lavender oil contains compounds which are all known to naturally repel mosquitoes and insects. Mix the essential oil with your apple cider vinegar and water solution, pour into a spray bottle and use as needed.
If you’re feeling lazy, then you can try a wonderful gel-based repellent made by Moraz medical herbs. They grow all their products in the Galilee region using traditional and organic methods. “Toosh” contains Eucalyptus, Citronella, Lavender, Tea Tree and Lemon Grass. http://www.moraz.co.il
Dear Natalie, we always spend the summer with my husband”s family by Lake Kineret and spend most of our time itching ferociously at the countless mosquito bites. It seriously affects our summer, and last year we had no choice but to take antihistamines. I really want to avoid taking these since I also have a newborn baby. Can you suggest any alternative natural remedies for very itchy mosquito bites?
Thank you so much. Ayelet, Tel Mond.
Hi Ayelet, you may very well be the hundredth person to write to me asking for advice on what to do with these dreaded mosquito bites! As well as prevention (see my response to the question above for natural mosquito repellent), there are indeed some natural homemade remedies which of course can also be used safely should you need to use them on your newborn.
The great thing about these remedies is that you almost certainly have at least one of them already at home in your kitchen cupboard! One of the most popular and inexpensive home remedies I always recommend for mosquito bites is baking soda. Its alkaline properties help to restore the pH level on the skin and reducing swelling and itchiness quickly. Simply mix one teaspoon of baking soda into one cup of water. Soak a piece of cloth/cotton wool and leave on the bite for approximately ten minutes.
Aloe Vera is another of my favorite remedies in treating itchiness, swelling and even pain related to mosquito bites. Familiar to many as a natural antiseptic agent, simply snap off a branch from your aloe vera plant and place it in the fridge for about 15 minutes to make it cold. Then remove the skin of the plant and apply the gel to the affected area.
Since each one of us is affected by mosquito bites in different ways, I find it most effective to use homeopathic remedies so that I can really prescribe the right remedy for that individual according to his or her symptoms. When there is quite a bit of swelling, I prescribe the homeopathic remedy Apis Mellifica. Sufferers will usually have bites which feel like they are burning, warm to the touch and they will feel relief with ice or a cold application.
Another good homeopathic remedy is Urtica Urens. This remedy will be given when the bite shows up as reddish blotches that burn and itch intensely. If the area looks like hives due to so many bites this is your remedy! Hypericum in homeopathic form can be taken for bites that are around the body’s nerve areas, such as by the fingers or toes. Use this for bites which cause sharp and/or shooting pain accompanied by numbness and tingling.
For most acute symptoms such as mosquito bites, try taking the homeopathic remedy at a 30c potency: one tablet under the tongue every hour until you feel an improvement.
For more accurate prescribing and to purchase your remedy, you can contact the Homeopathic Pharmacy (Hagalil) at 80 Ben Yehuda Street, Tel Aviv. There is always a homeopath working on site that can help direct you to your most indicated remedy. Homgalil: 03-522-3358.
In the meantime...try your best not to scratch! When mosquitoes bite, they release histamine, and this is what causes the itching. The more you scratch, the more histamine that gets released and the more it itches...so for now try to hold back and choose your natural remedy!
Ask Natalie: If you have a health query and would like an alternative answer then email Natalie with your question to: firstname.lastname@example.org. As well as working as a nurse, Natalie runs a clinic in Moshav Yanuv offering a wide range of natural treatment. Healing is achieved using homeopathy, reflexology, massage, flower remedies and nutritional wisdom. To make an appointment please email her.
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