Natural Remedies for Insect Bites

Natural Remedies for Insect Bites

In my last post, I looked at 10 essential oils that can repel insects. Taking preventative measures can help reduce the chances of getting bitten, but it’s not always possible to avoid insect bites altogether. If you do get bitten there are many natural methods of treating the bite (or bites). In addition to being itchy and irritating, insect bites and stings can transfer bacteria or other microbes to the skin. Scratching bug bites can also transfer unwanted germs into the bite and can cause further inflammation and irritation. So it’s important to treat insect bites quickly and to reduce the itching as much as possible. The next time you have a bug bite, try one or more of the following.

Aloe Vera

Aloe vera helps treat insect bites

Aloe vera is probably best known for its ability to heal sunburns. However, it is also useful for treating bug bites. Aloe vera contains over 130 active compounds and 34 amino acids that nourish the skin and support its health. It can also help reduce inflammation, itching, and swelling around the bite.

Apple Cider Vinegar

It may not smell great, but apple cider vinegar can help take the itch out of bug bites. It is less acidic than other vinegars and can help restore the pH balance to the skin around bites. For individual bites, put a few drops of ACV on a cotton ball, and dab it on. For bites all over, add two to three cups of vinegar to a warm bath, and soak. Don’t worry- you won’t smell like vinegar; the smell dissipates quickly.

Baking Soda

Plain old baking soda (sodium bicarbonate) can lower inflammation and relieve itching. To treat bites, make a paste with baking soda and water and apply to the bite.

Lavender Essential Oil

With its antimicrobial properties, lavender essential oil is ideal for insect bites. As an anti-inflammatory agent, lavender oil also helps to reduce redness, itching, and swelling.

Peppermint Essential Oil

Peppermint essential oil for insect bites

This essential oil creates a cooling sensation, which reaches the brain faster than that itchy feeling caused by insect bites. The brain can only perceive one sensation at a time, so peppermint oil can essentially block the itching, providing temporary relief.

Tamanu Oil

Found in the nut of a tropical tree, tamanu oil has a wealth of properties that make it well-suited for treating insect bites and stings. It helps relieve pain and itching associated with bites. Tamanu oil also contains anti-inflammatory compounds that reduce swelling and redness. Finally, it promotes healing of tissues and supports the formation of new, healthy skin. Tamanu oil is found in Verefina First Aid Stick and First Aid Ointment. These first aid products also contain lavender and tea tree essential oils, so they are ideal for use on insect bites.

Tea Bags

A cooled tea bag can work wonders for bites. The tannins in the tea help to reduce swelling by drawing excess fluids out of the affected area. Tannins also help pull toxins from insect bites.

Tea Tree Essential Oil

Like lavender essential oil, tea tree oil is antimicrobial, making it useful for healing infections. It is anti-inflammatory as well, so it can decrease itching, swelling, and pain. To treat insect stings with tea tree essential oil, first remove the stinger. Then apply tea tree oil diluted with a carrier oil to the affected area.

Witch Hazel

A natural astringent, witch hazel is found in many personal care products. It works especially well in combination with baking soda. When blended with baking soda, witch hazel helps pull fluids out of and reduce inflammation around insect bites. Simply blend a little bit of baking soda into a small amount of witch hazel until a paste forms; apply to affected areas.

Sources:

Gardenista. “5 Natural Ways to Ease Bug Bite Itching.” Care2. 27 July 2013. Web 23 July 2015.

http://www.care2.com/greenliving/5-natural-ways-to-ease-bug-bite-itching.html

Isaacs, Tony. “Natural Remedies and Repellents for Biting and Stinging Insects.” Natural News. 12 September 2008. Web. 24 July 2015.

http://www.naturalnews.com/024158_oil_natural_remedies.html

Kilham, Chris. “Natural Remedies for Bug Bites.” Fox News. 26 June 2012. Web. 23 July 2015.

http://www.foxnews.com/health/2012/06/26/natural-remedies-for-bug-bites/

Klein, Sarah. “Mosquito Bite Treatment: 14 Natural Ways to Ease the Itch.” Huffington Post. 20 June 2012. Web. 23 July 2015.

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/06/20/natural-mosquito-bite-treatment_n_1610186.html

Mercola, Joseph. “Baking Soda Uses: To Remove Splinters– and to Address Many Other Health Needs.” Mercola.com. 27 August 2012. Web. 24 July 2015.

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2012/08/27/baking-soda-natural-remedy.aspx

Mercola, Joseph. “How to Prevent and Treat Insect Bites Without Harsh Chemicals.” Mercola.com. 22 July 2013. Web. 24 July 2015.

http://articles.mercola.com/sites/articles/archive/2013/07/22/insect-bite-treatment.aspx

Mercola, Joseph. “Lavender Oil: A Love for Lavender Oil.” Mercola.com. Web. 23 July 2015.

http://articles.mercola.com/herbal-oils/lavender-oil.aspx

10 Essential Oils that Repel Insects

essential-oils-that-repel-insects

The bugs have been out for a while now. And if you’re one of those unlucky people who attracts biting insects, then finding an effective way to keep them at bay is probably a must for you. There are many insect repelling options out there, but some products- especially those made with DEET– may have a negative impact on your health. If you’d prefer to find an effective, toxin-free way of repelling insects, then essential oils may be the best answer for you. There are a number of essential oils that can keep bugs away- without the toxic side effects.

Catnip

Research done at Iowa State University found that catnip essential oil is roughly 10 times more effective at repelling mosquitoes than DEET (source).

Cedarwood

Cedarwood essential oil is obtained from the steam distillation of pieces of cedar. It is useful for repelling flies, mosquitoes, and other pests (source).

Citronella

Citronella essential oil is an old standby as a natural insect repellent. Derived from a plant related to geraniums, this oil works by masking the scents that generally attract insects, thereby making it difficult for them to find their targets (source). It has been used as an insect repellant since 1948.

Clove

The compound eugenol is responsible for many of clove essential oil’s health benefits. Although undiluted clove essential oil can provide two to four hours of protection against mosquitoes (source), the pure oil can cause irritation on the skin. If you want to use undiluted clove oil to deter mosquitoes, put it on your clothing , rather than directly on your skin. Just be sure to check on an unnoticeable spot to make sure it doesn’t stain or discolor the fabric. Putting clove oil in a diffuser can also help keep mosquitoes away.

Cloves can also deter moths and ants. Place a mesh bag with crushed cloves in areas where these critters are a problem.

Eucalyptus

Eucalyptus is a popular ingredient in natural bug repellants because it can help repel mosquitoes. This oil, diluted at 15%, can deter mosquitoes for up to three hours; when combined with vanillin, it is effective for about five hours (source). A 2010 study found that eucalyptus essential oil is also effective at deterring the sandfly (source).

Lavender

Lavender essential oil is a popular oil with a wide range of uses. While it gives off a sweet, floral scent to humans, many insects are repelled by linalool, a naturally-occurring alcohol found in lavender (source). Lavender is particularly repellant to mosquitoes, fleas, houseflies, and moths but is safe for both humans and pets. Its effectiveness is increased when combined with other essential oils, such as citronella.

Lemongrass

A relative of citronella, lemongrass has a stronger, spicier scent that many biting bugs will avoid. It is especially effective against horse flies and mosquitoes.

Patchouli

Patchouli essential oil can provide up to two hours of protection against insects (source). Many people can tolerate higher concentrations of patchouli, but even a dilution of 10% can be effective.

Peppermint

Peppermint essential oil may be refreshing and energizing for people, but mosquitoes don’t like it. This oil has been found to provide complete protection against mosquitoes for about 2.5 hours (source).

Tea Tree

Tea tree essential oil has a strong scent that keeps ants, horse flies, and other insects away.

DIY Insect Repellent

You can make your own all-natural insect repellent using essential oils:

Ingredients

* 50-60 drops essential oils (choose from any of the ones listed above)

* 4 oz. distilled water

* 4 oz. witch hazel

* 8 oz. spray bottle (glass is preferable, as essential oils can break down plastic)

Directions

Place all of the ingredients in the spray bottle, and shake gently to mix. Shake before each use, and spray on exposed skin before going outside.

Sources:

“Crafting a Natural Bug Repellent with Essential Oils.” Herbal Academy of New England. 18 June 2014. Web. 8 July 2015.

http://herbalacademyofne.com/2014/06/crafting-a-natural-bug-repellent-with-essential-oils/

Ettinger, Jill. “Smell Fantastically Natural and Repel Insects: 6 Essential Oils for Summer.” Ecosalon. 2 July 2013. Web. 7 July 2015.

http://ecosalon.com/repel-insects-6-essential-oils-for-summer/

Langton, Nicole. “Essential Oils That Repel Insects.” LiveStrong. 21 October 2013. Web. 8 July 2015.

http://www.livestrong.com/article/117530-essential-oils-repel-insects/

Masters, Madeline. “What Kind of Bugs Does Lavender Essential Oil Repel?” SFGate. Web. 10 July 2015.

http://homeguides.sfgate.com/kind-bugs-lavender-essential-oil-repel-83930.html

Mercola, Joseph. “Tea Tree Oil: Three Cheers for Tea Tree Oil.” Mercola.com. Web. 30 June 2015.

http://articles.mercola.com/herbal-oils/tea-tree-oil.aspx

“Oil of Citronella General Fact Sheet.” National Pesticide Information Center. Web. 8 July 2015.

http://npic.orst.edu/factsheets/citronellagen.html#howwork

Schoffro Cook, Michelle. “8 Natural Mosquito Repellents.” Care2. 30 May 2013. Web. 9 July 2015.

http://www.care2.com/greenliving/8-natural-mosquito-repellents.html

Trongtokit Y., Rongsriyam Y., Komalamisra N., Apiwathnasorn C. “Comparative Repellency of 38 Essential Oils Against Mosquito Bites.” PubMed. 19 April 2005. Web. 20 July 2015.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16041723

Turner, Paige. “Cloves as a Repellent.” SFGate. Web. 21 July 2015.

http://homeguides.sfgate.com/cloves-repellent-83624.html

Yang P., Ma Y. “Repellent effect of plant essential oils against Aedes albopictus.” PubMed. 30 December 2005. Web 20 July 2015.

http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16599157

Yigzaw, Erika. “Green Cleaning: 10 Essential Oils That Naturally Repel Insects.” American College of Healthcare Sciences. 26 June 2014. Web. 7 July 2015.

http://info.achs.edu/blog/green-cleaning-10-essential-oils-that-naturally-repel-insects

“15 Cedarwood Uses for Wisdom and Beauty.” Dr. Axe. Web. 9 July 2015.

http://draxe.com/cedarwood-essential-oil/

“25 Uses for Peppermint Oil.” Dr. Axe. Web. 21 July 2015.

http://draxe.com/peppermint-oil-uses-benefits/

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Three Steps to Happy Feet

Our feet work hard for us. Many of us are on them for most or all of the day. But we don’t tend to give our feet much attention, so it’s easy for them to get dry, calloused, and even cracked. The three steps that follow will revive your feet and even refresh your mind. For the best results, I recommend following all three steps, but you can also use just one or two.

Soak

Start by soaking your feet in this Lavender Lemon Soak. This step will help soften your feet, and the sea salt provides some trace minerals that are absorbed through the skin.

Ingredients:
Warm or hot water
1/4 cup sea salt
Half a lemon, sliced, or 5 drops lemon essential oil
5 drops lavender essential oil

Directions:
Put all of the ingredients in a tub of warm water, and put your feet in. Soak as long as you want. If you have any cracks, cuts, or scraps on your feet, you may wish to omit the sea salt and lemon, and use just the lavender essential oil.

Scrub

For this step, I use Verefina Sugar Scrubs. These scrubs gently remove dead skin and leave a thin layer of moisture behind. They also don’t sting in cuts, like salt scrubs sometimes do.

Using about a teaspoon per foot, scrub all over your feet and ankles until the sugar is all dissolved. Rinse your feet.

Moisturize

Finally, moisturize your feet. The mint essential oils in this Homemade Mint and Rosemary Cream create a cooling sensation, while rosemary increases circulation and provides extra moisture for dry skin.

Ingredients:
1/2 cup coconut oil
1-2 Tbsp grated beeswax (depending on how thick you want it)
1/2 tsp. vitamin E oil (optional)
6-8 drops peppermint essential oil (you can use either peppermint or spearmint essential oil or both)
6-8 drops spearmint essential oil
3-4 drops rosemary essential oil
3-4 drops lavender essential oil (optional)

Directions:
Gently melt the coconut oil and beeswax in the top section of a double boiler. Pour the melted oil and wax into a clean glass jar, and allow to cool. When the oil/wax mixture is cool but not solid again, add the vitamin E oil (if using) and essential oils. Gently stir. Allow to become solid again. Store in a cool, dark place (if you don’t use a dark jar).

To use, massage a small amount of cream onto your feet after soaking and scrubbing them. Cover with cotton socks. I like to use this cream before bed and leave overnight.

Caution: Wash your hands immediately after applying; mint essential oils can burn the eyes. Pregnant women should avoid rosemary essential oil. Peppermint, spearmint, and lavender essential oils are generally considered safe to use in the second and third trimesters, but should be used in moderation and with caution. Consult your health care professional before using them in pregnancy.

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DIY After Bath Splash

DIY After Bath Splash

This nourishing and moisturizing After Bath Splash is scented with essential oils. There are many different essential oils that can be used, but some of my favorites are lavender, lemon, grapefruit, and peppermint. Lavender is calming and soothing, the citrus oils have an uplifting effect, and peppermint is energizing. I love lavender and peppermint together because that combination because it is calming and energizing at the same time. I also add aloe vera juice to this recipe. Aloe not only cools the skin, but also contains several vitamins, minerals, and amino acids that nourish it. Vitamin E oil can be used as well. Vitamin E is an important antioxidant that helps protect the skin from damage caused by exposure to the sun and environmental toxins.


DIY After Bath Splash

Ingredients:
* 2 oz. water
* 2 oz. aloe vera juice
* few drops vitamin E oil (optional)
* 5 to 7 drops of essential oil (I use Verefina essential oils)
* bottle or spray bottle

Directions:
Pour all of the ingredients into the bottle, and shake gently to mix. Makes about 4 oz. Shake before each use, and splash or spray on all over after a shower or bath. Be careful to avoid the eyes. Apply lotion after a few minutes.

Here are a few essential oil combinations that can be used:

* lavender, rosemary, and/or tea tree
* lemon and orange
* peppermint and rosemary

Caution: Essential oils should be diluted before using. 

Note: Essential oils are best stored in glass containers, but can be stored in plastic if the essential oils are highly diluted. Make sure your essential oils are high quality if you do use plastic containers, as they may break down the plastic over time.

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DIY Alcohol Free Herbal Mouthwash

 

DIY Herbal Mouthwash

A while back I experimented with making my own mouthwash. It’s actually quite easy to make, and I like the fact that I have control over exactly what goes in it. I love this recipe that I’ve posted here because it has a fresh, minty taste. I use several herbs and essential oils in this mouthwash that can contribute to oral health. Rosemary and cloves have antibacterial properties. Peppermint essential oil is antibacterial as well and also adds a fresh, clean taste. Clove essential oil is also antibacterial and can help treat toothaches. Due to their antimicrobial properties, both peppermint and clove essential oils act as a natural preservative in the mouthwash. It is important to include them, since this recipe is alcohol free. I add xylitol to this mouthwash too. Xylitol is thought to help prevent cavities by inhibiting the growth of bacteria that convert the food we eat into enamel-decaying acids. So here’s the recipe:


DIY Herbal Mouthwash

Ingredients:
2 cups boiling, distilled water
1 tsp. dried rosemary
1 tsp. ground cloves
1-2 drops clove essential oil
1-2 drops peppermint essential oil
2-3 tsp. xylitol

Directions:
Put the herbs in a clean jar with a tight-fitting lid. Pour the water over them. The water needs to be hot in order to release the properties of the herbs. Allow the water to cool, then add the essential oils, and put the lid on the jar. Be sure to let it cool completely, as heat can damage essential oils. Leave in a dark place overnight, or up to a week. Be sure to gently shake it each day if you leave it for more than a day. Strain the herbs with a fine mesh strainer or cheese cloth. Add the xylitol, and shake to dissolve it. Store the mouthwash in your jar. To use, pour a small amount into a cup, and swish for 30 seconds.

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DIY Coconut Oil Toothpaste

DIY Coconut Oil Toothpaste

I have been experimenting with homemade toothpaste off and on for the past few months. I’ve finally come up with a recipe that I am happy with. This recipe calls for calcium or calcium and magnesium powder, so it can help with remineralization. I use coconut oil, which gives the toothpaste a nice consistency. It also leaves the mouth feeling very clean. And I use a small amount of baking soda. There is debate as to whether or not baking soda should be used for brushing teeth. I have heard the argument that it is too abrasive, so if you have sensitive or soft teeth, you may want to leave it out. Essential oils give the toothpaste a nice flavor and inhibit microbial growth.


DIY Coconut Oil Toothpaste

Note: I don’t give exact amounts, but use ratios instead, so you can make a large or small batch.

Ingredients:
3 parts calcium or calcium and magnesium powder
1 part baking soda (optional)
4 or 5 parts coconut oil
3 to 5 drops liquid stevia
1 or 2 drops essential oil (I use peppermint or Verefina Immunity Oil)

Directions:

1. Mix the dry ingredients together in a bowl.
2. Slowly add in the coconut oil, and blend it in with a fork. Keep mashing it until the coconut oil is mixed well with the dry ingredients.
3. Stir in the stevia and essential oil.
4. Store in a small container or glass jar.

Do you make homemade toothpaste? What do you put in it?

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