Actually this isn't medicinal - if you don't count doing something for the bites. But it's asked every year come bug time, so I'm including it anyway.
>I'd heard rumors of vitamins and herbs that naturally repel insects, though I'm not sure which ones.. any help is greatly appreciated
From Aine Maclir (amaclir.unibase.unibase.com):
There are a couple of things that I know of.
- Wear Citronella essential oil (which isn't the greatest smelling stuff around, but I guess it beats Off).
- Take the equivalent of 1500 mg of fresh garlic clove (a 15 mg capsule of garlic powder or 3 x 5 mg capsules) orally every day. Taking garlic will cause your skin to secrete a natural insect repellent.
For best results, do both. Don't wear perfumes or scented deodorants and wear light-coloured clothing as darker colours attract bugs...this is particularly true of blue denim jeans. To make sleeping more comfortable, burn either an insect coil or a couple of sticks of citronella incense in your cabin before going to bed, making sure that all the doors and unscreened windows are closed, so no more of them get in.
If you do get bitten, applying a small dab of ammonia to the bite immediately after being bitten can help ease the itching. And there's always the old favorite...calamine lotion...if you're not going to be anywhere that being coated in pink polka dots will be unfashionable (g). Aloe vera and witch hazel will also soothe insect bites.
If you are going to be in an area that's also known for tics, just be on the lookout for them whenever you've been in a wooded area and if you find one stuck to you, use rubbing alcohol to make it let go and carefully remove it with a pair of tweezers. Salt applied to a leech will get rid of it (in case you're around water that has any of those "suckers" (g)).
I think that should about cover every blood-thirsty creature you're likely to run into at a summer camp, recalling my own experiences. I've been on canoe trips through Algonquin Park, Ontario (known for having some of the biggest and thirstiest mosquitos, blackflies and leeches in Canada) and I live in Saskatchewan, where we could make mosquitos our provincial bird!
From "Peter & Janine" pjerlandsen.cox.net:
> 1. Wear Citronella essential oil (which isn't the greatest smelling
I would not wear Citronella when out camping where there is bears. They have found that the female black bear love the smell of Citronella. It does not attract the male bear.
From sfrye.interaccess.com (amethyst):
I've had good results taking B-complex supplements daily. Seems the bugs like the odor of B-1 about as much as I like the taste of it. ;P
From starla lacy (lacys.cadvision.com):
Here in Canada, we struggle with flies the size of horses! This essential oil mix has always worked great for me:
3 parts lemongrass (or citronella)
1 part thyme
2 parts lavender
1 part peppermint (or eucalyptus)
Mix together in a new plant sprayer (you may dilute with springwater if desired). This mix also has the advantage of smelling pleasant and is safe for use around kids and pets.
Shake the mixture well before using if you decide to dilute it with water.
From Henriette to above:
Remember to dilute essential oils in carrier oils (like almond, jojoba, olive ...). As a general rule you should not ingest essential oils.
From Mateo Rutherford (mcrutherford.lbl.gov):
I have used tobacco tea to kill lice and gnats. It is easy to prepare. Buy a cigar or some rolling tobacco and boil the hell out of it in a liter or so of water. When cool shlop it on your hair and cover your hair with a plastic shower cap or something like that for 20 minutes then shampoo. One application should be enough, but I would often do a follow up about three or four days after the first application.
From fukada.uhunix.uhcc.hawaii.edu (Mach T. Fukada)
However, keep in mind that nicotine that is extracted from the tobacco is also toxic to humans (people don't get too much of it when the smoke it because it burns up). It should be used with care if there are cuts on the scalp which may increase the rate that it is absorbed into the bloodstream
> I was wondering if there are any herbals that can be taken to reduce the attack of mosquitos. I happen to live in an area where they are abundant.
From amy.winans.psl-online.com (Amy Winans) to above:
I do well know what you mean! Here's what I've gathered on that subject, and keep (all) on hand as needed:
- You can join the rest of America and buy a caseload of Avon's Skin So Soft. I have about a dozen friends who worship it religiously.
- You can stock up on anything containing Citronella, although I fear it may still be too new to really know if there is Life for it after the Candles. I'm seeing a lot of oils and lotions saying it's in there, though.
- Continue to use the old standby's with DEET in them, like Off's Offtastic, or whatever, or Cutter's. Have heard personal testimonials on Cutter's.
- Investigate local ancient customs; as I discovered when I read the area's native Indians, the Karankawas, employed an effective remedy to a problem which was (unbelievably) much more horrid than it presently is; that is, they killed them an alligator, skinned him, liquified the fat and slathered it on! Kept quite a few things away, one of which WAS mosquitoes!
Seriously, though, there is probably something in that we could replicate today with something similar but more sweet-smelling. So, if anyone has any ideas, as well as things to ingest that might make your "scent" less attractive to mosquitoes, please post!
Use lavender oil (small drop) applied directly on mosquito bites.
Lush Stellaria media does the trick, too - just roll into a ball and let the juice drop onto your bite(s).
From Noel Gilmore (ngilmore.gate.net):
Allow me to pass on my husband's rather simplistic (and annoying) remedy to keep mosquito bites from itching and swelling...DON'T SCRATCH 'EM. For years I suffered all summer while he did not and he would always tell me it was because he disciplined himself not to scratch. Last year we went to the Yucatan jungle for vacation and I couldn't bear to cover myself from head to toe each day with repellent, so I asked him to help me remember not to scratch, and I have to admit it worked!
From Tim Keenan (tkeenan.uoguelph.ca) to above:
As someone who has lived and worked on the arctic tundra and in the boreal forest for decades, I have to agree...I never use DEET or any other repellent. If the bugs are so thick I can't breath without inhaling them, I use a "SkeeterGuard" fine-mesh net jacket, with a net hood that zips across the throat. Otherwise, I hit 'em if I feel 'em. If I don't feel 'em, I hardly ever develop any reaction. If I have a reaction, usually if I get bit somewhere where the skin is thin (over a wrist bone, etc.) I generally ignore it and it goes away. I never get a bump _unless_ I scratch. This goes for black flies, too. I think the best answer is to get bit early and often, and you will become acclimatized to it. Rubbing and scratching causes all sorts of local histamine response, which really aggravates the situation.
From Lane.monty.rand.org (Janis Lane) to above:
I have been getting TERRIBLE spider bites. The doctor told me that I was having a chemical reaction (arm was burning hot and swollen). He told me the SAME thing..."do NOT scratch". I stopped scratching and it seems that the bites are not swelling but are just turning to bruises. Any suggestions for THIS?
From Sharon Rust (ntlor.primenet.com) to above:
For spider bites I have used fresh papaya and when I haven't had the fresh stuff papaya - pineapple enzymes, these work for bee and wasp and scorpion stings as well. I chew up the enzyme tablet to make a paste and stick it on the bite , the papaya I just stick a chunk on . When I use to live where plantain (Plantago rotundifolia, or lanceolata) grew I used it for bites, it seemed to work on bee, spider and mosquito bites. To use plantain I would get a fresh leaf and chew it up with my front teeth, taking care not to swallow the juices and then stick this wad of chewed up plant on the bite(s). When my daughter and niece stepped into a swarm of yellow jackets luckily it was in a field filled with plantain, I started chewing up and applying the plantain to my daughter and my sister-in-law did the same for her daughter, the bites on my daughter were disappearing but my niece was getting no relief, so when I was finished with my daughter's bites, I started applying plantain to my nieces, the ones that I worked on were also disappearing , the key was that my sister-in-law was swallowing the juices released from the plant and I was not. I suppose you could use a blender or something but most of the time I feel that this is the fastest and simplest way to treat a bite.