Health & Fitness

The Herb that Repels Insects as Effectively as DEET


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Most humans love the fragrant scent of lavender wafting in the air. But research shows that some insects can’t stand the smell of this purple flower, which is good news if you’re trying to send them in the opposite direction.

In a study comparing the effects of lavender essential oil to the chemical DEET-based tick repellents, lavender showed results that were comparable to the DEET sprays at repelling ticks. At a 5 percent concentration, the insect-repelling results of the lavender oil lasted for 40 minutes while at a 10 percent concentration, the results lasted for 2 hours. Another study in the Journal of Medical Entomology found that lavender oil used in a 30 percent dilution was 100 percent effective against ticks.

That’s great news for anyone trying to steer clear of DEET-based repellents, which should be everyone.

A study by the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and published in the Journal of Neurochemistry found that DEET-based mosquito repellents interfere with proper nerve signalling in humans, disrupt the hormone dopamine needed for healthy brain function and contribute to chemical mechanisms associated with neurological disorders and nerve degeneration.

Other research in the journal Pharmacology, Biochemistry and Behavior found that DEET may be linked to motor function impairment and brain and nervous system damage. It’s no surprise that insects head the other direction…while they still can.

Perhaps we should follow their lead and leave the DEET repellents behind in favor of natural options like lavender.

While I am unfamiliar with any studies specifically testing lavender essential oil against mosquitoes, I can attest to its effectiveness in this regard. I am a natural-born mosquito repellent…for anyone who stands near me at least. That’s because the mosquitoes seem to head straight for me, leaving friends and family members in my company unscathed. But I’ve found that lavender oil works well to keep the little pests away from me too.

Adding 10 drops of lavender oil to your favorite unscented cream or oil and applying before heading outdoors will help to keep ticks at bay. Like the chemical sprays, you’ll need to periodically reapply the lavender oil. Of course, you should conduct a 48-hour skin test using diluted lavender oil (one drop of lavender essential oil to 10 drops of a carrier oil like sweet almond or apricot kernel oil) to the inside of your wrist before using it all over your body and face.

What’s more is that lavender helps to alleviate anxiety and depression, aids sleep and PMS symptoms and even helps with skin conditions and burns.

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