Tag Archives: bug bites

Uplifting Bug Spray

Make an insect repellant you actually want to use.

I live in the country and a lot of bugs have been biting me recently. I have a natural insect repellant, but I only use it if I know I am going into the backwoods. I don’t like how it smells so I don’t use it most days and find myself swatting mosquitoes and worrying about ticks.

Most natural insect repellants use citronella or lemon eucalyptus as their main ingredients, but these scents don’t appeal to me. Fortunately, there are a number of other essential oils that can help repel insects. They might not be quite as strong as citronella, but I figured that if I actually used my new bug spray because I liked it, I would still be ahead.

I looked at the list of essential oils commonly used to repel insects (basil, citronella, geranium, grapefruit, lavender, lemongrass, lemon eucalyptus, and peppermint) and picked out the ones that I would want to smell all day. I particularly love the smell of grapefruit essential oil and it contains a compound that ticks and mosquitoes hate.


Here is the recipe I came up with:

Uplifting Bug Spray

16 drops Peppermint essential oil
16 drops Lavender essential oil
16 drops Grapefruit essential oil
16 drops Lemongrass essential oil

Mix into 4 ounces of water in a spray mister.
Shake well before each time you use it. Reapply frequently.

You can modify this recipe based on what essential oils you like. I chose mostly energizing and uplifting essential oils for my blend, but you can go another direction too as far as the additional benefits of the essential oils. Also consider adding aloe or witch hazel to replace some of the water.

Have fun, smell good, and tell the insects to buzz off.

Herbal First Aid

Here come the summertime burns, cuts, bites and stings.

I recently gave a lecture on Herbal First Aid covering these topics and more. Here are the notes for everyone who couldn’t make it.


Activated charcoal– draws out and absorbs toxins. Open up capsules and mix contents with a small amount of water. Leave on bites for 15-30 minutes. Can also be taken internally for bites and gastrointestinal issues such as food poisoning.

Aloe– general skin soother and healer, especially for burns. Apply topically to irritated skin or burns as often as needed. I mix a few drops of lavender oil into my aloe when using it for burns.

Arnica– great for bruises, sprains, and pain from excess activity. Take arnica pellets orally and apply arnica gel, cream, or oil topically up to every 15 minutes for 2 hours, then up to 4 times a day.

Black walnut– antifungal activity makes it a classic Ozarks cure for ringworm. Only use the green outer hulls of the black walnuts or the tincture made from them.

Calendula cream or ointment- speeds healing of skin issues like irritation and minor scrapes and wounds. Often combined with comfrey and other healing herbs. Apply several times per day. Calendula can be also made into a tea to enhance lymphatic circulation for detoxification or immune support.

Clay– draws out toxins and cooling to the skin. I mix up ¼ cup clay with ¼ cup water and apply thickly to bug bites, poison ivy, and minor burns (after the aloe and lavender). Leave on for 20 minutes to an hour, and then wash off. I store the extra mixed up clay in a tightly sealed container in the refrigerator for the next round of bug bites.

Comfrey– soothes the skin and speeds healing of skin, sprains and broken bones. Used topically as a salve for wounds or a comfrey poultice for sprains and bones. Not recommended for use on deep wounds, because it can cause the skin to heal before the underlying tissues do.

Drawing salve– homeopathic blend for boils and bites. Some people love it for acne too.

 Ozonated olive oil– speeds healing of minor wounds, rashes, burns, and bug bites. Apply topically several times a day. I find that ozonated olive oil neutralizes itchy chigger bites better than anything else for me. For minor sunburns, I apply it to after using aloe.

Plantain leaves– grind up the leaves for a quick poultice for bug bites, stings and cuts.

Potato Poultice– for skin infections. Finely grated potato and apply to thickly to infected area. Leave on for 30-60 minutes or overnight. Can add minced garlic and parsley to boost antimicrobial benefits.

Rescue Remedy– calming for stressful situations and shocks. It can help that shaken up feeling after an injury.

Tea tree oil– antimicrobial for bites and minor wounds. I mix a few drops into my herbal salve to boost the antimicrobial benefits.

How to Make a Compress:

Soak a cloth in a liquid herbal preparation such as a tea, diluted tincture or an oil, wringing it out well, then placing over the body. They are usually applied warm but can also be used cold in cases of swelling or inflammation. Leave in place for about 10 minutes and sometimes repeated with fresh liquid several times. For ease, they can be wrapped in cling film to keep in place and avoid staining clothe or furniture. In cases where a deeply warming action is needed, a towel and a hot water bottle can then be placed on top.

How to Make a Poultice:

Grind dried or fresh herbs with water and a little slippery elm powder or flour to create a paste. Spread the poultices on cotton rags and folded them into squares. Apply to skin and wrap it in bandages to hold it in place. Any remaining squares can be put in a ziploc bag with parchment paper in between and frozen to use in the days following.

Or mix powdered herbs with an equal part slippery elm powder, then add a little warm water and honey and mix into a thick paste. Spread it over the area in question and bandage in place.

Natural Insect Repellant

I am so grateful for the rain we have been getting this year. The countryside is incredibly lush and my garden is thriving, but naturally so are the bugs. Living out in the country, I see ticks on a daily basis—partially because my cats like to roam and are thoughtful enough bring them home to me. I have chickens and guineas that do their best to cut down on the bug population, but my cats clearly wonder far beyond the predatory range of my chickens. The mosquitoes, too, are enjoying the moisture. Both of these pests can make us itch and scratch, but worse they can spread diseases like Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever and West Nile Virus. The most common recommendation to avoid these bloodsuckers is to use an insect repellant containing DEET, but I would personally rather avoid this questionable chemical.

Alternative insect repellants often contain essential oils like citronella, basil, grapefruit, lemongrass, lemon eucalyptus, and peppermint. When initially applied essential oils are just as effective as DEET, but these volatile oils evaporate fairly quickly, so they don’t repel insects for more than an hour or two. Some people don’t mind reapplying these formulas frequently since they have a pleasant odor and can be diluted with water to be a refreshing mister during hot day. However, if you’d prefer not to continually reapply throughout the day, another option is to buy a formula that is oil based and designed to last longer. An example of such a product, Buzz Away Extreme, was shown to still repel 90% of mosquitoes after 3 hours, making it at least as effective as a conventional insect repellant containing 15% DEET. Natural insect repellants containing citronella have also been shown to be as effective as DEET at repelling chiggers and ticks, as well.  Similarly, geranium and lemongrass essential oil have also been shown to be effective at repelling chiggers.

Though despite taking these precautions, I do sometimes still get bitten. For tips on how to deal with insect bites, you can read my blog from this time last year.

Otter and Bois d'arc: My chief tick collectors

Otter and Bois d’arc: My chief tick collectors

Ozonated Olive Oil for Summertime First Aid

We are lucky to have many wonderful local supplement companies in Fayetteville, but there is one local company that is making a product that is probably new to many of you: ozonated olive oil. Ozone is the special form of oxygen found in the upper atmosphere that we rely on to protect our planet from harmful radiation. Ozone is also a pollutant found in our cities. It turns out that ozone can also be used on our skin to protect it and speed healing. Ozonated oils are made by bubbling ozone through oil until the oil becomes thick like a salve. These oils make turn a harsh gas into something that is safe to use on the skin because the ozone chemically reacts with the oil to make tamer ozonated derivatives.

Several studies have demonstrated how ozonated oils can speed the healing of wounds. When compared to plain olive oil applied topically, wounds treated with ozonated olive oil showed smaller wound size at five days and increased density of collagen fibers, the tissues that help keep our skin strong. The researchers explained that this faster healing was due to the increase of growth factors in the skin that supported tissue repair. Other researchers discuss the use of ozonated oils as a disinfectant and oxygen donor to the skin. They mention the use of ozonated olive oil for wounds and also burns and skin reactions to radiotherapy. Popularly, ozonated olive oil is also used for diaper rash, eczema, ringworm, shingles, and acne. I have personally found ozonated olive oil to be the best treatment to neutralize chigger bites. Usually, I only have to apply it one time to the bites and they no longer itch.

To learn more about our locally made ozonated oils, check our www.purO3.com and consider adding ozonated olive oil to your summertime first aid kit.