Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Why Try Natural Insect Repellent



It’s officially spring and we’re practically ecstatic that the birds are chirping and flowers are blooming. But one thing we’re not excited about? As spring and summer kick into gear, so do the bugs. Whether it’s mosquitos or ticks, the annoyance of bugs can make any well-meaning summer adventurer head back indoors.

But while most people instantly reach for store-bought insect repellents, some mainstream products can be equally as harmful as the bugs themselves. That’s why if you’re on the hunt for a way to get outdoors without getting eaten by mosquitos, natural insect repellent is the way to go. Read on for everything you need to know!

Why Should You Use a Natural Insect Repellent?


First, let’s talk about mainstream insect repellents. After all, they are effective in keeping bugs at bay. So why make the switch if they seem to work just fine? Because some artificial sprays are packed with chemicals that can affect skin, especially the sensitive skin of babies or young children. DEET, one of the main active ingredients in mainstream bug sprays, has been a controversial chemical since it first began being used in the 1940s. Issues with DEET range from small things like its unpleasant odor and skin irritation, to much bigger issues like the fact that it has been known to interfere with enzymes in the nervous system.

A 2009 study found that while DEET does block bugs, it can also block an enzyme called cholinesterase in bugs, which is responsible for transmitting messages from the brain to the muscles, a trait that may also affect the nervous system in humans. While more research is certainly needed, why risk you or your family’s health with a bug spray that uses DEET when there are so many powerful natural insect repellents you can use instead?!

Lucky for you, there are many benefits to using a natural insect repellent this spring and summer instead of one that uses unnatural chemicals. Here are just a few of them:

      Free from Chemicals – We kind of covered this one already, but it bears repeating. With a natural insect repellent you can rest assured that you’re avoiding bugs and harmful chemicals.
      Healthier for Skin – Just like with unnatural lotions or creams, store-bought bug spray can cause adverse skin reactions, especially on people with sensitive skin or babies. Natural insect repellent ensures that you won’t get a skin rash or any other irritation from unnatural ingredients.
      Safer for Pets – Almost all natural insect repellents are made with organic ingredients that already occur in everyday life. Accidentally ingesting it can do very little damage (if any) in comparison with store-bought solutions. That means, it’s not just safe for you, it’s safe for your pets.
      Easier to Enjoy – Ever wonder why mainstream bug sprays have such an awful smell? As you’ll see below, most natural insect repellents are made with essential oils that actually smell amazing and actually have additional benefits for your body. You’ll be able to fight back the bugs and smell great doing it!

What Makes a Natural Insect Repellent?


Now that we’ve (hopefully!) convinced you that a natural insect repellent is the way to go, let’s explore all the amazing ingredients that make up these lovely, yet powerful blog blockers. Hint: they involve lots of wonderful essential oils!

Citronella


Citronella is of course the most well-known natural insect repellent, and for good reason. An effective protector from mosquitoes, citronella is a blend of herbs that usually comes as a candle and when burned outdoors can almost create a mosquito-free zone. In fact, some research shows that when made with the right ingredients, citronella can be just as effective at repelling insects as DEET products.

Peppermint


From fresh breath to fresh cleaning products, there’s not much better than the smell of peppermint, and as luck would have it, this sweet smelling essential oil is actually a pretty powerful natural insect repellent. Studies have shown that peppermint essential oil not only repels mosquitoes, it actually can kill them as well!

Lavender


Another natural insect repellent that you’ll actually want to put on is lavender essential oil. In fact, it’s that wonderful smell that humans love so much that actually keeps the mosquitoes at bay. Not only does the smell of lavender repel insects, its antifungal and antiseptic properties can calm and soothe skin if you do get a bite.

Thyme


You may love cooking with this fragrant herb, but did you know that thyme is also an effective natural insect repellent? One animal study found that when a low-grade thyme oil was applied to hairless mice, it had a protection rate of 91-percent. And if you love the smell of thyme, consider throwing a few sprigs in your campfire or backyard fire-pit – it can give you an hour or so of protection!

Cinnamon


Delicious and an insect killer! Cinnamon has been known to repel adult mosquitoes and even kill their eggs. That also makes it an effective natural remedy for treating head lice, bed bugs, and even cockroaches!

Tea Tree


Known for its antimicrobial and anti-inflammatory properties, tea tree oil can also be a powerful natural insect repellent. One study showed that tea tree (or melaleuca) oil can effectively repel mosquitoes, bush flies, and even pesky little bugs called biting midges.

What Type of Natural Insect Repellent Will You Chose?


Who knew that so many amazing smelling essential oils also act as natural insect repellents? Now that you know what ingredients to look for, let’s explore a few different types of natural insect repellents that you can use.

Sprays


Closest in form to store-bought bug spray, there are plenty of natural insect repellent spray products. In fact, natural bug sprays can even be found at everyday stores like Target and Walmart for around the same price as unnatural products.

Balms


Natural insect repellent balms are a great way to get bug protection on the go, as they go on relatively smooth and clean so you don’t have to do any rubbing in or hand-washing after application. We’re fans of the Badger Anti-Bug Balm Stick for its superior protection. And if you still manage to get a bite, there’s also an After-Bug Balm Itch Relief.

Creams


Because natural bug repellent creams (like this one) are made with nourishing essential oils, they have the added benefit of moisturizing your skin while protecting you from bugs. Plus, with a lotion, you’ll be sure to cover every inch of unprotected skin.

 

DIY


While it certainly is easy to buy a natural insect repellent, you may be surprised to know that it’s almost as easy to make one yourself! Here’s our favorite DIY recipe for creating your very own natural insect repellent to protect you and your family for all the summer fun.

Ingredients:
      Glass spray bottle
      30 drops geranium essential oil
      30 drops citronella essential oil
      20 drops lemon eucalyptus essential oil
      20 drops lavender essential oil
      10 drops rosemary essential oil
      1 tablespoon vodka or rubbing alcohol
      1/2 cup natural witch hazel
      1/2 cup water (or vinegar)
      1 teaspoon of vegetable glycerin (optional to keep ingredients combined)

Instructions:
  1. Place essential oils in spray bottle. Add vodka or alcohol and shake well to combine.
  2. Add witch hazel and shake to combine.
  3. Add vegetable glycerin (if you’re using it).
  4. Add water and shake again. Shake before each use as the oils and water will naturally separate some over time.

Are You Ready to Try Natural Insect Repellent?


Whether you use peppermint or tea tree oil, a lotion or a spray, a natural insect repellent will keep you and your family safe and having fun all summer long. Let us know what worked best for you in the comments below!

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Photo source: pixabay.com

Try Blessed Thistle During Cold & Flu Season



Ever wonder what it takes for a plant to be called blessed? Turns out, it just needs to help stave off the common cold! For more than 2,000 years, a small plant called blessed thistle has promoted everything from a healthy appetite and digestion to hormonal balance and reproductive health. And especially during cold and flu season, blessed thistle might just be your saving grace!

Blessed thistle is an annual flowering plant that originated in the Mediterranean but is now found all over the world in regions of Europe, Asia, South Africa, Central and South America, and even the United States. It grows on dry and stony ground, mostly in open and sunny areas, with a thin red stem, spiky leaves, and yellow or purple flowers – it may not look like much, but it packs a punch!

Also known as holy thistle, this hairy little plant actually got its name in the Middle Ages when Benedictine Monks used it to treat victims of the bubonic plague, which was also called the Black Death. And although we don’t need it for such a dangerous illness today, blessed thistle can still make a big difference in life today – especially when it comes to the flu.

Not to be confused with milk thistle, which is known to protect the liver, blessed thistle is most commonly used in support of a healthy immune system, respiratory system, and digestive system. Read on for a few ways that this little plant can help in a big way, especially when it comes to that early springtime cold you might be fighting.

Potential Health Benefits of Blessed Thistle


Digestive Health


Blessed thistle is a blessing (pun intended!) for the digestive system in more ways than one. It helps stimulate the production of bile and stomach acid, which is needed to break down waste and nutrients so the body can digest food more effectively. Blessed thistle also has natural diuretic qualities, which can support detoxification and cleansing, helping vital organs like the liver, kidneys, and colon eliminate excess waste and stay healthy.

Immune System Health


Blessed thistle can also promote a healthy immune system, especially during allergy and cold season. When occurring in the wild active ingredients in milk thistle help protect the plant from environmental attacks. These same ingredients can be synthesized to help humans in the same way, creating a calming effect for an overactive immune system and potentially helping to block histamine reactions that result in allergy attacks.


Upper Respiratory Health


In the same way that blessed thistle can help ease allergies or the common cold by supporting the immune system, it can also help with these symptoms by supporting the upper respiratory system. Characteristics of blessed thistle have been found to have an expectorant effect on the respiratory system, helping to reduce inflammation and promote clear air passages, helping the body to breathe easier … even when you’re all stuffed up!

Skin Health & Healing


Blessed thistle has long been used in traditional folk medicine to promote healthy skin. With antimicrobial, astringent, and anti-inflammatory properties, blessed thistle can help support the skin’s ability to absorb antioxidants and stay toned and looking fresh. Studies have also found that blessed thistle can promote improved healing from burns and wounds and prevent infection.

Female Reproductive Health


Last but certainly not least, blessed thistle can promote a wide range of potential benefits for the female reproductive system. Not only has it been used in traditional herbal medicine to alleviate symptoms related to painful menstruation, cramps, and menstrual headaches, blessed thistle can even help with milk production for nursing mothers and menopausal symptoms in older women.

One Note of Caution


Before hopping on the blessed thistle bandwagon, check with your doctor or allergist, as it may cause an allergic reaction in people who are sensitive things like daisy, sunflower, or ragweed. No allergies? Great! Here’s how to use blessed thistle!

How to Use Blessed Thistle


There are countless ways to integrate blessed thistle into your everyday life. If you want to take it everyday for things like digestive support or allergies, blessed thistle capsules are an easy and quick way to get your daily dose. Blessed thistle extract is also a way to explore its daily benefits – just place a few drops in your favorite drink two or three times a day and you’re set!

If you want to take a more DIY approach to blessed thistle, there are a few ways you can do so while also alleviating symptoms related to digestive issues, menstrual pain, or the cold or flu. We recommend placing a few teaspoons for dried blessed thistle in boiling water and steeping for 5 to 15 minutes (depending on how strong you want it). It may be bitter to the taste, but drinking 1 cup two or three times daily may make a difference when it comes to temporary pain relief or respiratory challenges.

How will you incorporate blessed thistle into your everyday routine and start exploring it’s many benefits? Let us know in the comments below!

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Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash