Bugs Got You Down Try Aromatherapy

It's summer time again and along with it comes the host of little winged creatures, buzzing around our ears and looking for a nice spot to land. No, it doesn't sound so wonderful, yet somehow neither does the thought of spraying DEET on ourselves and our children's skin. Thankfully, many wonderful natural health alternatives are available -- and the active ingredients in most of these products are essential oils. In fact, some essential oils have been tested in the laboratory to be up to 10 times more effective at repelling mosquitoes than DEET. Your own natural formulation is exceptionally easy to make, and that way you'll find the base that suits your skin most.

Many folks like using natural carrier oils on their skin, or something then like a witch hazel, rather than the semi-synthetic cream bases most often found. In addition to creating lotion or spray topical formulas, diffusion of essential oils into your living space is an optimal means of keeping biting insects away from you altogether. Readily available aromatherapy diffusers will make a fine mist of essential oils that easily fill your space with wonderful uplifting aromas that mosquitoes don't happen to like. So at the same time that you're keeping away the insects, you and your family will also be enjoying the natural anti-depressants actions of aromatherapy.

First for the topical formulations: These are simply essential oils added to a lotion, oil, or body spray base. You can add essential oils to any commercially available lotion, even sunscreen -- which creates an excellent dual purpose recipe for summer. Aromatherapy carrier oils can be used instead of lotions as many people appreciate their skin-hydrating properties; simply choose the carrier oils that suit your skin type. Finally, a spray can be made using a water and which hazel combination, misting your skin and clothes (without worry of stains), or even in the air around you.

Witch hazel is a natural plant extract used as a preservative, and is easily found even in the aisles of your local grocery store. For a spray base, simply mix witch hazel and water at a one-to-three ratio. There are a great many essential oil combinations considered ineffective for repelling insects. The most popular essential oil for mosquito repelling is citronella, distilled from the leaves of grass grown in tropical countries.

In recent years however, it has been found that citronella alone is not the most potent bug repellent. Adding other essential oils, namely peppermint, cedar wood, and geranium will greatly enhance its effectiveness. Citronella, or citronella mixed with lemongrass, is still the most widely used essential oil for room diffusion (the result is similar to burning a citronella candle). Try diffusing one or both of these essential oils and a nebulizing in diffuser, or add 20 drops of oil to plain water in a spray bottle and mist your environment. For an extra strength topical recipe, mix 3 milliliters of citronella, 1 milliliter of peppermint, three quarters of a milliliter of cedar wood, one half a milliliter each of lemongrass and geranium essential oils in the base of your choosing. Adjust this recipe for children by reducing the concentrations of essential oils by half for preteens, and again by half for toddlers, omitting the peppermint.

For infants, use only citronella and/or lemongrass at a 1% concentration. As with any potent medicine, it is important to watch for any reaction -- while of rare, it is possible for anyone to have a reaction to pure natural essential oils. If you're interested in experimenting, the most potent mosquito repellent essential oil known is that of catnip. Catnip essential oil was the subject of a study in the 1990s that showed it at least 10 times as powerful as DEET, the active ingredient in many insect repellent products. DEET is found in over-the-counter formulations in concentrations from anywhere between five and 20%; this means you should get the same effectiveness at concentrations between .5 and 2% of catnip essential oil in your base.

Because not much is produced, catnip essential oil is still somewhat expensive, but the amounts needed are so low that it will likely offset the cost. Essential oils are also excellent remedies for insect bites once they've occurred. They can reduce both the pain of a sting and the itch of many little bites. Lavender is most commonly used for this, and it can be applied directly to the skin undiluted. Just tap one drop of lavender essential oil from the bottle and apply with your fingertip. Blue tansy essential oil, also known as Moroccan Chamomile, is also regularly used in aromatherapy for its soothing effects to the skin.

For best results, dilute blue tansy to 2% in a carrier oil or lotion and massage onto the affected area. If you are concerned about infection, also include tea tree essential oil at a 5% dilution. While DEET has been in use for many years, it's still a synthetically produced solvent chemical.

It's nice to have a natural health options of essential oils for you and your family, and these recipes are so easy to make and use. Many of these essential oils are highly regarded for healing effects in regard to other health issues. Geranium is a well-known anti-fungal agent, and lemongrass is known for its antiviral action. These oils are also used in esoteric aromatherapy as antidepressants -- so while you're keeping the bugs away, you'll likely be putting a smile on your face too.

The author utilizes pure therapeutic organic essential oils for aromatherapy, with their natural healing properties. More information on oils like Lavender, Eucalyptus and Tea Tree are available through The Ananda Apothecary at www.anandaapothecary.com.

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