Spring arrived very recently — and boy, did Mother Nature make us wait for it! When we know it is getting close, we yearn for the sunny warm days of spring, that fabulous feeling of sun on our face, the warmth in the air, anticipation of even warmer weather ahead and wearing shorts and T-shirts outside.
However, the arrival of spring brings with it something we all dislike: bugs. There are a variety of them, some more annoying and troublesome than others, but one in particular can be very dangerous to our health. Yes, the ticks that carry Lyme disease.
Last summer I witnessed a close friend suffer from Lyme disease. Thankfully it was caught early and the antibiotics killed the disease, which for anyone not aware is very nasty and can be debilitating. However, it is much better to not contract Lyme disease in the first place. We can use essential oils to repel ticks and all the other bugs we want to keep off us.
As a practising reflexologist and aroma therapist, most of my articles have been very deep — and hopefully informative — over the past few weeks.
(I practise clinical aroma therapy and use essential oils to treat a wide array of health concerns, some examples being restless leg, anxiety and sleep problems.)
To lighten things up (my mum always told me to “lighten up, Annette”), I thought I would share my knowledge on how you can, by making a simple blend of oils, create your own bug repellant. One that is free of pesticides, completely natural, safe for children, your fur babies and the environment. And yes, it really does work! When you think of bug repellant, think lemongrass (cymbopogon citratus), the essential oil that is essential for spring (and summer) because it is the oil of choice as a bug repellant.
Before I get to the simple formula for do-it-yourself bug spray, it is important I share with you some worthy facts about essential oils and also some safety aspects:
1. Any one essential oil may be grown in several places around the world. However, the purest (i.e. best) oil will come from a very specific place. I always want and use the purest of oils, so I ensure I get them from the very best source. In other words, the tree or plant where the oil originated from. That way, with each oil I purchase I know precisely where it was extracted from and the chemistry (GC) behind the oil; so know it is pure and unadulterated (i.e. not blended with other oils or hydrosols).
The lemongrass plant is a native of India and Sri Lanka. Lemongrass is perhaps best known for its appearance in Thai and Vietnamese cuisine. However, the extract and essential oil are also very important to the perfume and cosmetics industries. Lemongrass has long been used in traditional Indian medicine to fight fever and infection, giving it the alternate common name of “fever grass.”
Essential oils are a natural product. Nonetheless, caution is a must because any one oil can have side effects if used with certain medications, by people with particular allergies, infants, some elderly folk and those with underlying health conditions.
In the case of lemongrass, the precaution is that concentrated lemongrass oil may cause skin irritation if not diluted, so test your formula on a small patch of skin before using it. If all is OK, then spray it such places as the cuffs of your sleeves, the rim of your hat, your collar, your socks, shoes and bottom of your pants. I do not recommend putting lemongrass on your skin.
Other ways to use lemongrass:
1. Burn pure lemongrass oil in candles and small lamps in order to protect a large outdoor area from insects. You can use a variety of lemongrass products such as tea lights, lanterns and even large torches for a decorative touch. If you form a perimeter around a picnic or barbecue area with the candles and lamps, you can protect hundreds of square feet from insect activity.
2. Grow lemongrass in your yard in order to have continual access to the oil. Lemongrass grows quickly and easily in many climates, and the plant itself tends to act as an insect repellent. You can extract the oil by grinding up the leaves or by chopping the lower stalks of the plant into small pieces.
Finally, here is the formula for your own safe insect repellent: Purchase pure lemongrass oil to use as a pure, natural and safe insect repellent. Dilute the oil in rubbing alcohol or distilled water and pour the mixture into a spray bottle for easy applications as follows:
Homemade Bug Spray
1. Place the essential oils in a glass spray bottle. Add distilled water and or rubbing alcohol and shake well to combine. (equal amounts of each).
2. Dilution: for every 10 ml of water and or rubbing alcohol, (if using both water and rubbing alcohol use equal amounts), add six drops of lemongrass essential oil.
3. Shake well before each use.
4. Be careful! Do not put lemongrass on your child’s skin or directly on your pet. Use a handkerchief scarf as stated earlier. Never put directly on the skin.
As I always mention in my reflexology articles, we need to take more responsibility for our own health care, starting with what we expose ourselves, our children and our fur babies to.
Be well, and to quote my mum: “Don’t take life too serious and laugh often.”
Annette Hubley, RRP, is a Board Certified Reflexologist, holds a certificate in nutrition, practices Clinical Aromatherapy and owns the Ideal Protein Clinic in Bridgewater.