By Dr. Mercola
Summertime calls most of us to spend time outdoors. Alas, bugs can be a real buzz-kill at best, and carriers of disease at worst. Additionally, most commercial insect repellants contain a chemical known as DEET, which should be used with caution, if at all. Many studies have found DEET to have harmful effects.
Fortunately, there are plenty of tricks to keeping biting bugs at bay, and they don’t involve applying toxic chemicals to your skin. There are also many natural remedies that can help take the sting out of your bites, should preventive methods fail.
The Most Common Offenders…
The featured article in Medical News Today1 offers an excellent and extensive overview of a wide variety of bug bites, their signs and symptoms and potential side effects, which can range from mild to severe (allergic reactions):
“When insects bite they release a form of saliva that can cause inflammation, blisters and irritation. Insect bite signs and symptoms vary, depending on the type of insect and the individual’s sensitivity.
While one person may just have a small, itchy lump that clears away in a few days, somebody else can have a more serious reaction, such as papular urticaria – crops of small papules and wheals, which may become infected or lichenified (thickened and leathery) because of rubbing and excoriation.”
WebMD also has a helpful “Bad Bugs Slideshow” to help you identify some 28 different types of bugs and their bites.2 Some of the most common biting insects include:
Mosquitoes Certain flies Fleas Bedbugs Gnats Midges Spiders Ticks
Fortunately, it’s fairly rare to catch diseases from most insect bites if you live in countries far away from the equator, such as northern parts of Europe, United States, and Canada. The closer you are to the equator, the risk of being bit by mosquitoes and other insects carrying diseases such as malaria, sleeping sickness, yellow fever, encephalitis, West Nile virus and dengue fever increases.
Ticks, however, can spread human babesiosis, Rocky Mountain spotted fever, and Lyme disease—one of the most serious and controversial epidemics of our time—regardless of your geographical location. To avoid ticks, make sure to tuck your pants into socks and wear closed shoes and a hat—especially if venturing out into wooded areas.
Simple Preventative Measures to Avoid Mosquito Bites
Mosquito’s are probably the most pervasive when it comes to biting bugs that can ruin an otherwise pleasant outing. There are over 3,000 different species of mosquitoes throughout the world, about 200 of which occur in the US. Naturally, the best way to avoid mosquito bites is to prevent coming into contact with them in the first place.
You can avoid most assaults by staying inside around dawn and dusk, which is when they are most active. If you must be out during those times, wear light-colored, long sleeved shirts and long pants, hats and socks. Mosquitoes are also thicker in shrubby areas and near standing water.
Body temperature and skin chemicals like lactic acid also attract mosquitoes, which explains why you’re more likely to be “eaten alive” when you’re sweaty, such as during or after exercise, so trying to stay as cool and dry as you can may help to some degree. You may also want to forgo bananas during mosquito season. According to Dr. Janet Starr Hull, “there’s something about how your body processes the banana oil that attracts these female sugar-loving insects.”
She also recommends supplementing with one vitamin B-1 tablet a day from April through October, and then adding 100 mg of B-1 to a B-100 Complex daily during the mosquito season to make you less attractive to mosquitoes. Research also suggests that regularly consuming garlic or garlic capsules may help protect against both mosquito and tick bites. The American Mosquito Control Association (AMCA) has a helpful factsheet3 of things you can do to prevent mosquito breeding on your property. The Three D’s of protection from mosquitoes are:
- Drain—Mosquitoes require water in which to breed, so carefully drain any and all sources of standing water around your house and yard, including pet bowls, gutters, garbage- and recycling bins, spare tires, bird baths and so on
- Dress—Light colored, loose fitting clothing offer the greatest protection
- Defend—While the AMCA recommends using commercial repellents, I highly recommend avoiding most chemical repellents, especially those containing DEET. Instead, try some of the natural alternatives suggested in this article
Bat houses are becoming increasingly popular since bats are voracious consumers of insects, especially mosquitoes. For more on buying a bat house or constructing one yourself, visit the Organization for Bat Conservation.4 Planting marigolds around your yard also works as a bug repellent because the flowers give off a fragrance that bugs do not like. This is a great way to ward off mosquitoes without using chemical insecticides. A simple house fan could also help keep mosquitoes at bay if you’re having a get-together in your backyard.
Steer Clear of Chemical Repellents, Especially DEET
Currently, DEET (N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide) is used in more than 230 different products — in concentrations of up to an astounding 100 percent. If a chemical melts plastic or fishing line, it’s not wise to apply it to your skin — and that is exactly what DEET does.
Duke University Medical Center pharmacologist Mohamed Abou-Donia spent 30 years researching the effects of pesticides. He discovered that prolonged exposure to DEET can impair cell function in parts of your brain — demonstrated in the lab by death and behavioral changes in rats with frequent or prolonged DEET use. Children are particularly at risk for subtle brain changes because their skin more readily absorbs chemicals in the environment and chemicals more potently affect their developing nervous systems. Other potential side effects DEET exposure include:
Memory loss Headache Muscle weakness and fatigue Shortness of breath Muscle and joint pain Tremors
Another potentially harmful chemical found in many bug sprays5 is permethrin. This chemical is a member of the synthetic pyrethroid family, all of which are neurotoxins. The EPA has even deemed this chemical carcinogenic, capable of causing lung tumors, liver tumors, immune system problems, and chromosomal abnormalities. Permethrin is also damaging to the environment, and it is particularly toxic to bees and aquatic life. It should also be noted that permethrin is highly toxic to cats.6
Even a few drops can be lethal to your feline pet. It is used as an ingredient in some topical flea products, so when you see “for dogs only” on the label, it likely contains permethrin. The Environmental Working Group (EWG) recently released an extensive review of the safety (or lack thereof) of virtually all bug repellant ingredients7.
Keeping Insects at Bay the Natural Way
Fortunately, there are highly effective repellents on the market comprised of natural botanical oils and extracts that are every bit as effective as DEET, but with none of the potentially harmful effects. You can also make your own repellent using:
- Cinnamon leaf oil (one study found it was more effective at killing mosquitoes than DEET)
- Clear liquid vanilla extract mixed with olive oil
- Wash with citronella soap, and then put some 100% pure citronella essential oil on your skin. Java Citronella is considered the highest quality citronella on the market
- Catnip oil (according to one study, this oil is 10 times more effective than DEET)8
Another option is to use the safe solution I have formulated to repel mosquitoes, fleas, chiggers, ticks, and other biting insects. It’s a natural insect spray with a combination of citronella, lemongrass oil, peppermint oil, and vanillin, which is a dynamite blend of natural plant extracts. In fact, an independent study showed my bug spray to be more effective than a product containing 100 percent DEET. And it’s safe for you, your children, and your pets.
Treating Bites and Stings with Herbs and Other Natural Agents
Once you’ve been bitten, the objective changes from repelling to treating the itch and inflammation caused by the bite. Fortunately, many herbs and other natural agents are soothing to the skin, and many have anti-inflammatory properties. So for your occasional mosquito bites, try one of the following:
Aloe Vera: It contains over 130 active compounds and 34 amino acids that are beneficial to your skin. Calendula: An herb with soothing, moisturizing and rejuvenating properties. Chamomile: The most soothing herb of all, whether used in a tea or applied to the skin. It is rich in the bioflavonoids apigenin, luteolin and quercetin. Cinnamon: In addition to possibly repelling mosquitoes, cinnamon has antibacterial and antifungal properties. Cucumbers are helpful for reducing swelling. Raw organic honey: An especially powerful variety is Manuka honey from New Zealand, made from bees that feed on flowers of the Manuka bush, also known as the “Tea Tree.” Lavender: One of the most popular essential oils for its calming scent, lavender is as antimicrobial as it is soothing. Neem Oil: Effective against fungal conditions, boils, eczema, and ringworm, and it would undoubtedly help an insect bite as well. Tea Tree Oil: Helpful for healing cuts, burns, infections and a multitude of other skin afflictions. It is also a good antimicrobial, including fungal infections. Basil contains camphor and thymol, two compounds that can relieve itching. Either crush up some fresh herb and apply directly to the bite, or buy the essential oil. Lemon and lime both have anti-itch, antibacterial and antimicrobial actions. Avoid applying citrus juices to your skin when outdoors however, as blistering can occur when exposed to sunlight. Peppermint—the cooling sensation can block other sensations, such as itching, providing temporary relief. Either the essential oil or crushed fresh leaves will do.
Swiping a cooled tea bag over your bites can also help, as the tannins in the tea acts as an astringent, reducing swelling. For bites all over your body, try soaking in a bathtub of warm water with two to three cups of apple cider vinegar added to it. The acidity of the vinegar can help stop the maddening itch. Alternatively, dissolve some baking soda in your bath and soak for about 30 minutes. You can also mix some baking soda with a small amount of water or witch hazel to create a paste, and apply directly to the bite. The witch hazel works synergistically with the baking soda, making for a more potent mix to reduce swelling.
Hot or Cold Therapies Can Take the Sting Out of a Bug Bite
Using either ice or heat are other options that can help ease the discomfort associated with bug bites. For example, an article inScientific American9 recommends using a simple ice pack to treat painful insect bites in lieu of analgesics. The article also explains why common topical steroids like hydrocortisone aren’t always the answer—one reason being that you’re not supposed to put them on broken skin.
According to an article published in the Drug and Therapeutics Bulletin10 just last year, there is also little direct evidence supporting the efficacy of commercial preparations for insect bites, including antihistamines and topical corticosteroids. The authors concluded that the best course of action for mild local reactions is to simply clean the area and apply a cold compress.
Alternatively, applying heat directly to the bite also appears to relieve itchiness. One simple way is to apply a heated spoon directly to the area, as demonstrated by Lifehacker.com.11 Just hold the spoon under hot tap water for about a minute to heat the metal, then press it against the bite for a couple of minutes. Naturally, make sure the spoon is not too hot.
It shouldn’t be scalding enough to actually hurt, so please use some common sense, and make sure to test it on your own skin before applying the heated utensil to a child. The receptors that respond to heat are the same ones that respond to cold, so you will likely achieve the same benefits with a metal spoon taken from your freezer, or simply rubbing ice cubes on it. I have also found that covering the bite with tape works really well to suppress the itch.
A more high-tech version of a heated spoon is the Therapik—a handheld wand that provides targeted heat for the treatment of itchy bites from a range of insects, including mosquitoes, bees, wasps, hornets, black flies, ants, fleas, ticks, chiggers, as well as jellyfish and stinging nettles. Gizmodo12 tested it, and determined that it works as advertised, giving it four out of five stars:
“You put the tip of the Therapik onto your bug bite, then you press and hold down the button. The tip uses light to heat the bite up. You hold it there for as long as you can take it, up to a minute. The burning sensation gets pretty intense after 30 seconds or so… It actually works! Mosquito bites (the only thing we tested it with) stopped itching within a few seconds of taking it off, and in most cases they never itched again. We are officially stunned. … It works on the principle that most insect venom is thermolabile (sensitive to heat). Therapik claims to deliver “heat in the precise temperature range necessary to deactivate the venom from over 20,000 different species of insects and sea creatures.”
A German study13 published in 2011 confirms the hypothesis of such claims. Testing another medical device called Bite Away, they concluded that:
“Locally administrated concentrated heat leads to fast amelioration of symptoms [swelling, pruritus and pain]. Usually an absence of symptoms is noticeable 10 minutes after administration. Pain reduction is the dominant effect.”
To Enjoy the Outdoors, a Little Preparation and Planning Can Go a Long Way
With a little planning and preparation, you should be able to enjoy the outdoors without getting eaten alive. Remember the Three D’s of protection from mosquitoes: drain, dress, and defend. Eliminating the breeding grounds for mosquitoes is the first step to limiting their numbers. Planting marigolds around your yard and maybe installing a bat box or two can also go a long way toward preventing them in the first place.
When it comes to defense, I recommend avoiding harsh chemical concoctions and experimenting with some natural alternatives instead. Some may work better than others for each individual, as mosquitoes in particular are attracted to certain biochemical components in your skin.
Should your preventive measures fail, there are well over a dozen different home remedies that can help, from herbs to baking soda to ice packs or heat, whether in the form of a heated or cold spoon, compress, or electronic gadget, or maybe even just a piece of tape.
There is a sacred pulse that you have. It often follows the pulse of your biological heartbeat. It makes sense, since the Pulse comes from the biological pulse of the heartbeat is in sync with the Celestial Pulse.
It can tear down outside walls and if it does, it manifests in a revolutionary way. It’s very powerful yet very subtle. That is why it can be a life changing experience, either to Pulse it out or be the receiver. And I really don’t feel comfortable saying that, since there is no transmitter and no receiver in the higher altitudes of the Pulsing hearts. There is no inside and outside.
There are no contradictions – there are only perceptions of diversions. All resonated reminiscences of the division Bell which started its toning when the control system came up with that once so powerful design which still holds the heart people in Morph City, like wallflowers in the ballroom of life.
I would like to stick to the Matrix of outside and inside to get my point through:
There are no powers in this world that have that authority over you! Not being able to Pulse your, maybe brushed and battered heart, out into the field of infinite possibilities, the field of infinite creativity or the field of infinite love.
Can’t blame it on the control system anymore. We have evolved rapidly over the last decade, forming heart based networks, networks of friendship, networks of kindred spirits, networks of the “Internet awakening” and so many more.
So the only one keeping you is you. Blaming it on the Matrix is very hollow in the field of the Pulsing Hearts.
The only one holding you back is: You.
Once we realize that fact we become free, obviously detaching the blame game and reclaiming our powers as heart based radiant pulsing beings.
So the problem could be elsewhere:
Maybe you will feel shy.
Maybe you will feel misunderstood.
In a world that thrives on coldness, you might feel lonely-afraid-sad.
Every emotion no matter how high or how low has a counter emotion:
It comes with the territory, since we have not fully reached the state of “Staying Power” in the heart-based realms of our divinity.
And we get the Downs. And it’s fully okay. Highs and lows.
Some people get so scared of the power of their Hearts that they think:
I need a 77 step program to tell me the coordinates of the Pulsing Heart.
Really, you don’t.
You might need signposts but no one on this planet can tell you how to live your life and express your heart unless the “rules/principles/laws” to be followed are very elastic and grant you the freedom to do it your own way, by the guidance or advice from someone who might have travelled a bit further down the road of “Talking the talk, and doing the walk”.
Seek inspiration – Avoid control and maybe bare in mind that control can be very subtle and nicely wrapped in.
Sometimes we need to surrender to outside perimeters in order to find our home and true potentials again. But do not take anything for granted.
Take the inspirations if you find them resonating, but never go: “This is the only way”. Waste of incarnation really, another remote control matrix. And they come in many forms, mind-bending, heart twisting and maybe there are very good principles to follow for the person advertising them, pretending it to be the way to the Kingdom, The New Dawn or whatever and persuading you that this also goes for you.
My point is, because I believe in you:
You have it. It’s the precious gift from the universe we manifested from, are in and will go back to.
I really don’t believe in:
B.asic I.nstructions B.efore L.eaving E.arth.
As goes for holding the Pulse of The Heart People hijacked into a confined space of: You cannot do this and that. Do what you fancy – it is all learning by doing here.
You can. You are that greatness. You are the embodiment of that gift.
The heart often being symbolized like an unfolding Rose, it may acquire water, but to fully unfold it does not need some Guru in any form to tell it how it should. That would be like going out into the garden and commanding the flowers to bloom, but only according to the commandments in The Book of Flowers © . Chance of getting cut down will be imminent.
We are diamonds in the rough and our polishing goes through learning by doing, but addressing the three lives we have: The physical, the emotional and our intellect.
When they merge: Blooming sets in. Pulsing sets in. Everything sets in and a birth, maybe a symbolic one: A metaphysical merging between what were divided, the physical – the emotional and the intellectual and we can truly speak of wholeness in our beings:
Since we differ no more.
Reborn and frail.
Reborn and radiant.
Reborn and strong.
Every spiritual guru/teacher who tells you that this is complicated and wants to tell you that there’s a long and winding road here, that is not conquered without great distress and his teachings, frankly hasn’t got a clue to what he’s talking about.
It’s projections. It might have caused him great distress but he’s not allowed to pass that onto the disciples or whatever he would call you.
You have it – You might need a hand or a mirror to show you – but you have it. I know that for a fact. Because: There are no children of a lesser God.
Don’t ever think you are.
And then I met Allan:
Allan is 10 years old and has Downs syndrome.
Meeting Allan empowered the mechanics of it for me or they became a shared frequency. Allan hit me like a hammer and I hit him.
Allan is a very good example of The Pulse, The Heart Based, The Divine, The Redemption, The Sacred.
I have had considerable considerations in embedding this beautiful mail in this since my motives can be questioned. I decided that my reluctance to do so was fear based and I will not give in to that.
It is so soft. So caring. So loving. It´s why we are here. To engage on that level, and when we do, we get a bit uncomfortable and we think that it is the exception of our experiences on the Heart level.
We all still have to take that leap of faith and let go and surrender to the Sacred Pulse and our greatness, even if it gives us a down in the aftermath.
Most beautiful “down” I ever came across inside and outside, which I will hear nothing of anymore.
We have to stay in what we describe as the High, which really is our God given State of The Heart.
Allan’s mother said it:
Good Morning Soren!
I hope you are well on this lovely Friday.
It has been a week since Allan’s healing and I wanted to send a very heart-felt thanks to you and let you know how he is doing.
I have listened to your audio many times and have been touched and moved to tears every time! Thank you for your soulful feedback. You are right about Allan – he is a very very special person, very deep and loving.
I know he is extremely frustrated and I have desperately wanted to help him overcome some of his challenges and I believe the Universe pointed us in your direction!
We have seen many medical people and specialists and therapists over the years, Soren. I don’t think they ever “connected” with him the way you have and spoke to his soul!!!!
I asked Allan if he talked with you and he said yes, and I asked him if he would like to talk with you again and he said yes!!! Last week was such a good week for him- he was much happier and agreeable, he seemed more energetic.
The other thing I noticed is that he and I have been very close last week and this week. I am enjoying that!!
I think the Universe has sent us to you for a very good reason!!
Again, I’m not the interesting one here: Allan has the pulse, a very powerful pulse. Embedded. And nobody told him how he could / should NOT do it and needed a 77 step program in order to do it right. He just does. So do we.
And our down is: That we perceive this matter as unusual.
Let me tell you this: This is the New Normal.
Let’s get used to it.
© 2013 Soren Dreier
Zen-haven.com © 2013