Natural Bug Spray Options

by Dr. Julian Whitaker
Filed Under: General Health, Q&As
Last Reviewed 03/28/2014

Are bug sprays dangerous? Is there a natural bug spray alternative?

Natural Bug Spray Options

For decades, DEET, a chemical developed in 1946, was the only insect repellent endorsed by the CDC. However, its odor, which is repelling to humans as well as mosquitoes, plus concerns about its safety (it has been linked to neurological problems, especially in the very young and the very old), has made alternatives all the more attractive.

Fortunately, the CDC has given the nod to two other insect repellents, and one of which is a natural bug spray.

One is a chemical called picaridin, which has been used in Australia and Europe since the 1980s but was only cleared by the US Environmental Protection Agency in 2000. Picaridin appears to be as effective as DEET, but it smells better and is less irritating to the skin. You’ll find this ingredient in several popular brands of insect repellants. 

Natural Bug Spray Options

The other is oil of lemon eucalyptus, which the CDC claims offers protection similar to chemical insect repellents. 

Lemon eucalyptus isn’t the only natural ingredient that works. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine compared a number of products and found that of all botanical insect repellents, a soybean-based product called Bite Blocker worked best. Buzz Away, which contains citronella, eucalyptus, lemongrass and other herbs, also has proven benefits as natural bug sprays.

I recommend that you try any of these natural bug spray products first and resort to the chemicals only if the botanical versions don’t work. All of them are available through online retailers and in some health-food stores.

Insect repellents aside, it’s been said that taking 100 mg per day of thiamine (vitamin B1) helps some, although not all, people repel mosquitoes. On the other hand, wearing perfume, drinking beer and eating Limburger cheese attracts them. Let me know how these safe, natural bug spray options work for you.

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