Natural Prevention, Treatment, and Control
West Nile virus disease is a mosquito-borne
infection that can cause mild flu-like illness or severe encephalitis. Although
chances of a person getting encephalitis are small, there are some simple steps
you can take to reduce your risk of being bitten by mosquitoes. "Because of
the widespread fear, bordering on panic, that has accompanied the continued
appearance of the West Nile Virus, massive pesticide spraying campaigns are
underway. The insecticides being used in New York are sumithrin (Anvil) and
resmethrin (Scourge), both synthetic pyrethroids. The Pyrethroids may interfere
with the immune and endocrine systems. According to researchers writing in the
Journal of Applied Toxicology , "immense care is warranted in the use of
insecticides, because they not only affect the liver, kidney and other organs
but also may alter the activity of the endocrine glands." (J Appl Toxicol 1996
Sep-Oct;16(5):397-400). Other researchers have found that pyrethroids are environmental
estrogens, and may contribute to reproductive dysfunction, developmental impairment,
Powerful West Nile Virus Protection
Most people by far who become infected with the West Nile virus "fight it off
without even knowing they were infected, while a small minority suffer flu-like
symptoms such as aches and fever".
"Only one per cent suffer encephalitis - inflammation of the brain that can
cause fever, headaches, stiffness, confusion and muscle weakness - and only
five per cent of these suffer long-term consequences, or even death." said Dr.
Colin D'Cunha, Chief Medical Officer of Health, the Province of Ontario, August
30. 2002. Exactly the same holds true for Cryptococcal disease, a rare fungal
infection caused by the spores of a tree fungus, that can affect the lungs and
nervous system. In some cases, the infection can lead to swelling of the lining
of the brain. "The disease and the cryptococcus fungus appear across the world.
Most people are exposed to some variety of the fungus at some point in their
life but never develop serious symptoms", writes Dr. Murray Fyfe, BC Centre
for Disease Control, "less than 3 cases are reported per 100,000 people per
year on Vancouver Island." (Also CTV news, September 6. 2002). It is clear that
most people have highly effective immune
systems which protect them against both diseases, that some people have
a somewhat effective immune system, and that a few have an inadequate immune system.
Dangers of using Malathion for Mosquito Control
Dr. Leonard G. Horowitz - "Spraying malathion, a suspected
human chemical carcinogen and known immune system blocker, or its alternate,
Anvil 10:10, violates a basic tenant of public health practice that requires
foreknowledge of the risks and proven benefits of the policy before it is implemented"
"The chemicals that are released into the environment in an effort to control
mosquitoes are harmful to human health, wildlife, and ecosystems. They are also
ineffective in that they kill only a limited percentage of mosquitoes, leaving
sprayed communities with a false sense of security and less likely to use effective,
non-toxic, control measures. There is evidence that long-term spraying may actually
increase the number of mosquitoes by destroying predators that feed on mosquito
larvae and adults. Mosquitoes that are sprayed but not killed by the poisons
may become resistant, become more aggressive biters, and have increased prevalence
of West Nile Virus (WNV) within their bodies." "The only hard evidence available
that pesticide applicators are behind efforts to increase public hysteria and
thus the market for their products comes from the New York State Attorney General's
Office. A Long Island landscaping company agreed to pay a fine and cease an
advertising campaign that falsely claimed its spraying of homeowners' trees
and shrubs would kill mosquitoes carrying the West Nile Virus. The action against
Green Island Tree Spray Inc. of Huntington includes a fine of $35,000 and restitution
to customers who hired the company based on its deceptive advertising. "This
pesticides applicator cynically preyed upon peoples' fear of the West Nile virus
for the sake of increased profit," said Attorney General Spitzer. "This action
should serve as a warning to others who might contemplate similar schemes."
Excerpt from the Maine Environmental Policy Institute (MEPI)
and the Toxics Action Center.
Cure's More Deadly Than the Disease
Pesticides Targeting West Nile-Carrying Mosquitoes May be a Thyroid Danger
Because of the widespread fear, bordering on panic, that has accompanied
the continued appearance of the West Nile Virus, massive pesticide spraying
campaigns are underway in many areas on the Northeastern US, including New York
City and Boston. The insecticides being used in New York are sumithrin (Anvil)
and resmethrin (Scourge), both synthetic pyrethroids. In Boston, only resmethrin
is being used. The use of both pesticides are coming under considerable criticism,
as potentially toxic chemicals that pose a danger to humans, wildlife and the
The Pyrethroids may interfere with the immune and endocrine systems. Other
adverse chronic effects, including effects on the liver and thyroid, have been
reported in toxicology testing. According to toxicologists, animal tests showed
that chronic exposure to resmethrin could increase thyroid weight and cause
thyroid cysts. In animal studies, it was found that in addition to a variety
of other health effects, exposure to pyrethroids can suppress both the thyroid's
T4 and T3 levels, and raise Thyroid Stimulating Hormone (TSH) levels.
According to researchers writing in the Journal of Applied Toxicology, "immense
care is warranted in the use of insecticides, because they not only affect the
liver, kidney and other organs but also may alter the activity of the endocrine
glands." (J Appl Toxicol 1996 Sep-Oct;16(5):397-400). Other researchers have
found that pyrethroids are environmental estrogens, and may contribute to reproductive
dysfunction, developmental impairment, and cancer" (Abstract).
Another study found that some pyrethroids have the potential to promote
breast cell proliferation, an action that can increase cancer risk (Abstract).
Jay Feldman, is executive director of the National Coalition Against the Misuse
of Pesticides, a Washington, D.C.-based environmental organization. According
to him, "The city has overstepped the boundaries of safety and law in the handling
of its mosquito prevention and management program, exposing the public to hazardous
The group has filed a lawsuit against the City of New York over the spraying,
citing violations of federal and state environmental statutes. William Cooke,
a spokesman for the National Audubon Society in New York, commenting on the
spraying to the New York Times, saying: "There's a grossly inadequate effort
to track the collateral impact on the environment and on humans."
Potentially toxic spraying such what is taking place in New York City and
Boston may become a concern in other areas of the country soon, as experts believe
that the West Nile virus is on the move. "The virus is probably in every corner
of North America by now," as well as parts of South America, says John Rappole
from the Smithsonian Institution's zoo, in the July issue of Emerging Infectious
West Nile Virus and Horses
Dr. Falconer DVM - This has a lot of people running scared
and vaccinating their horses repeatedly. Yet, the percentage of those exposed
to the virus who actually get sick is very small, on the order of 10%. Why?
The likely reason is that the majority of the horses, (or dogs or people) exposed
to the virus had adequate NK cell function at the time of exposure. To make
sure your horse is in the protected group though, feed
Immune Modulator Nutritionals along with a host of immune synergists and excellent quality
nutrients for healthy coats and hooves. If your area has any reported cases
of West Nile (or colds, flu, Strangles, EPM, etc.), just boost the immune system
additionally with this immune support formula
Overkill: Why Pesticide Spraying for West Nile Virus May Cause More Harm Than Good
William C. Sugg, III Director, Maine Environmental Policy Institute
In researching the issue of West Nile Virus, one is struck by the lack of
understanding of the public and decision makers about the risks that WNV actually
poses to their health, and their acquiescence to spray programs. There is little
consideration of the harm that the release of pesticides can do to human health
and the environment. When people hear that a "deadly" virus from the "heart
of Africa" is responsible for killing residents in their community they are
understandably upset and want the government agencies and public officials to
"do something!" Unfortunately, the first line of defense has been toxic chemicals.
The reasons for this are complex. They are rooted in everything from our innate
fear of disease to media-induced hysteria to many people's feeling that the
government will make the right decisions when it comes to protecting their health
and the environment when responding to and defining a public health "crisis."
The purpose of this report is to empower the people and communities of Maine
with the information they need to protect themselves from West Nile Virus while
at the same time protecting themselves, their children, wildlife, and the lobster
fishery from the potential harm a spray campaign could inflict.
The report examines the history and epidemiology of West Nile Virus, takes
a hard look at the threats it poses and discusses the mosquitoes and animals
that are involved in spreading the disease. It looks at how WNV has spread in
the eastern US, what the response has been, and what Maine is doing about the
situation. The chemical weapons used against the mosquitoes and how they behave
in the environment and in human and animal bodies, and their effectiveness at
killing mosquitoes and stopping the spread of WNV are examined in depth. Most
importantly, we describe alternatives to toxic chemicals to control mosquitoes.
Note from Shirley:
Fulvic acid acts as an important protective
agent. An important aspect of humic substances is related to their sorptive
interaction with environmental chemicals, either before or after they reach
concentrations, toxic to living organisms. 33 The toxic herbicide know as Paraquat
is rapidly detoxified by humic substances (fulvic acid). 34 Fulvic acids have
a special function with respect to the demise of organic compounds applied to
soil as pesticides. As the most powerful, natural electrolyte known, fulvic
acid restores electrical balance to damaged cells, neutralizes toxins and
can eliminate food poisoning within minutes . When it encounters
free radicals with unpaired positive or negative electrons, it supplies an equal
and opposite charge to neutralize the free radical. Fulvic acid acts as a refiner
and transporter of organic materials and cell nutrients. According to A. Szalay,
fulvic acid has the ability to dramatically detoxify herbicides, pesticides,
and other poisons that it interacts with – this includes many radioactive
elements. This detoxification process may extend to animals and humans, since
we are the end-users of these plants.
Do you have a question about Natural Health or need assistance?
Call 323-522-4521 or 323-989-3372
Blowing the Whistle on West Nile - Shades of 1950's and DDT
I'm reminded of the 1950's...TV newscasts showing clouds of DDT sprayed on
a clueless public, compromising their health and contaminating the environment
for decades to come, as Rachel Carson writes "Silent Spring." But the time is
now, other toxic pesticides have joined the ranks in our wayward war against
mosquitoes, and the Rachels of today are drowned out by a media rushing to sound
the alarm, rather than report the news.
And the news is - pesticides pose a much greater health hazard than the West
DEET, Anvil, and other toxic pesticides are aggressively promoted to protect
the public from a mosquito bite that appears to be, statistically, less dangerous
than a dog bite or bee sting. And the CDC seems to agree. On its website it
says, "Human illness from West Nile virus is rare, even in areas where the virus
has been reported. The chance that any one person is going to become ill from
a mosquito bite is low."
Since 1999 only a handful of deaths per year have been associated with West
Nile, even though the virus has been found in 33 states. The fact that this
"health crisis" has been exaggerated, and that chemical spraying is usually
the least effective yet most toxic way to control mosquitoes, has deterred some
state officials, but not others. The New York State Health Department backed
away from recommending wholesale spraying after finding that more people got
sick from the pesticides than from the virus. However, Louisiana has just asked
for $17 million in federal aid, and Mississippi is following suit. There's no
word yet on how the money is to be allocated, but rest assured the pesticide
companies stand to benefit.
Meanwhile, some citizen groups are taking matters into their own hands. The
No Spray Coalition is suing New York City to stop pesticide spraying in their
neighborhoods. There's a good deal of information on government and other websites
about the toxic effects of pesticides, but a comprehensive picture of the specific
pesticides and issues involved in the West Nile campaign is well laid out in
a report called " Overkill: Why
Pesticide Spraying for West Nile Virus May Cause More Harm Than Good " by
the Maine Environmental Policy Institute (MEPI) and the Toxics Action Center.
In short, they report that these pesticides offer a toxic legacy: short-
and long-term respiratory problems, immune and nervous system disruption, cancer,
and reproductive and learning disorders. That covers just about everything you'd
never want to get. The "Overkill" report also emphasizes the association between
outdoor pesticide sprays and neurological damage, stating, "A report of pesticides
and childhood brain cancers published in Environmental Health Perspectives (a
publication of the National Institutes of Health) revealed a strong relationship
between brain cancers and pyrethroids used to kill fleas and ticks." Anvil,
a pyrethroid, is a popular pesticide used by state agencies to control mosquitoes.
NV Positive Wildlife And MTBE
Note from Shirley: MTBE is a toxic gasoline additive
Analysis of NYSDEC Pathology Unit's -
In the New York City region, a public health disaster was recognized during
the summer of 1999. That recurring seasonal phenomena is referred to as the
“West Nile Virus Epidemic” and a virus was said to have caused the human illness,
disease, and unprecedented wildlife mortality.
This study analyzes the NYSDEC Wildlife Pathology Unit’s “West Nile Virus
Database” (1999) in terms of air pollution, ozone, MTBE protocols, animals reported,
WNV-negatives, and WNV-positives.
The 62 counties of New York State are defined, for the purpose of this study,
within three categories of air pollution: A) Severe counties (9) are the original
EPA "Severe-17" counties. B) Moderate counties (10) are those originally designated
by EPA as “Moderate NA”, plus the county of Albany and its surrounding counties
that experience dense metropolitan traffic. Less polluted counties (43) are
the remaining counties. (see map)
Findings: WNV-positive animal mortality correlated precisely with EPA county-by-county
categories that affect gasoline formulations with MTBE (methyl ethyl butyl ether).
MTBE is a poisonous gasoline additive that has been undergoing a phase-out and
ban as recommended by the EPA on July 31, 1999, at the height of arguably the
highest incidence of bird mortality in the history of the U.S.
The WNV-positive percentage of tested animals in the severe counties was
24 times greater than in the moderate counties plus less polluted counties.
No animal tested positive for WNV in the less polluted counties.
West Nile Virus: Out of Africa? Or out of a Lab?
Health authorities claim the virus entered the US via travelers from the
Middle East, or via a stray mosquito on an airplane. Other researchers claim
the virus arrived with African animals or birds placed in zoos. But, in fact,
the WN virus has been housed in US labs for decades (along with African animals),
and has been openly sold to researchers around the world. From the very beginning
of the WN virus outbreak, there were rumours of bioterrorism, but these rumours
were denied by health officials.
Public Health Expert Calls West Nile Virus Pesticide Spraying Program “Madness”
Sandpoint, ID — News reports about threatened West Nile Virus (WNV) infections
spreading across America have missed the much greater risks posed by chemical
sprayings. This mosquito control program is “madness” according to a leading
public health authority whose proof is in a new book being donated to libraries
and legislators nationwide.
Dr. Leonard G. Horowitz, a Harvard graduate independent investigator, and
author of more than thirteen books including the national bestseller,
Viruses: AIDS ? Ebola , says spraying pesticides to combat mosquitoes suspected
of carrying the West Nile Virus (WNV) has not been scientifically proven to
be either safe for humans or effective against the disease. Spraying malathion,
a suspected human chemical carcinogen and known immune system blocker, or its
alternate, Anvil 10:10, violates a basic tenant of public health practice that
requires foreknowledge of the risks and proven benefits of the policy before
it is implemented, he says.
There is substantial evidence linking exposure to these airborne chemicals
to cancer and genetic damage, the doctor maintains. For this reason he has urged
political and public health officials to stop what he calls “imprudent practices
that are clearly lethal to people.”
In support of his activism, the publisher of Dr. Horowitz’s Death in the
Air (Tetrahedron; 1-888-508-4787) has donated more than 1,000 copies to libraries
and legislators. His documentation comes “highly recommended” in the July, 2002
issue of LIBRARY JOURNAL, the nation’s leading academic library periodical.
Henry A. Wallace of the Institute for Alternative Agriculture has also voiced
concern saying, “I think people, by now, would know that heavy applications
of pesticide have not been the right way to go” in-so-far-as halting the spread
of threatening diseases. “Spraying people with pesticide that do not want to
be sprayed must be morally wrong.”
Dr. Horowitz says, “This spraying policy violates ethical, moral, and scientific
standards. To give people the proof and power to resist this madness I’ve even
lifted the copyright on the book. People should photocopy and circulate the
stunning evidence at townhall meetings for the benefit of their communities
and conscientious policy- makers considering or debating this pesticide spraying issue.”
General Facts about West Nile Virus
"Even in areas where the virus is circulating, very few mosquitoes are infected
with the virus. Even if the mosquito is infected, less than 1% of people who
get bitten and become infected will get severely ill. The chances you will become
severely ill from any one mosquito bite are extremely small."
Encephalitis is a viral infection. Mild cases may include a slight fever
and/or headache. More severe infections are marked by a rapid onset of a high
fever with head and body aches. Usually symptoms occur from 5 to 15 days after
exposure. There is no specific treatment for viral infections, other than to
treat the symptoms and provide supportive care. Those who may be most susceptible
to encephalitis are the elderly and persons with damaged immune systems.
West Nile virus is currently found in many areas of the eastern half of the
United States. The virus is spread by the bite of an infected mosquito, and
can infect people, horses, many types of birds, and some other animals.
Most people who become infected with West Nile virus will have either no
symptoms or only mild ones. On rare occasions, infection can result in a severe
and sometimes fatal illness known as West Nile encephalitis (an inflammation
of the brain). The risk of severe disease is higher for persons 50 years of
age and older. As of August 2, 2002 there have been 36 cases of West Nile virus
related human illness confirmed to CDC during 2002, including 2 deaths. From
1999 through 2001, there were 149 cases of West Nile virus human illness in
the United States reported to CDC and confirmed, including 18 deaths.
There is no evidence to suggest that West Nile virus can be spread from person
to person or from animal to person.
Mosquito Spraying and West Nile Virus
In 1999 and 2000, New Yorkers were exposed to massive amounts of toxic pesticides
by the Giuliani administration in a panicked overreaction to the alleged threat
of West Nile Virus (WNV - a disease that the Department of Health?s own press
releases admit is extremely hard to become infected by and is very rarely fatal.
We were repeatedly sprayed by helicopters and trucks in our homes, in public
parks, while shopping, while playing in schoolyards, while eating in outdoor
restaurants and while traveling to and from work and school.
Now the possible spray area for mosquitoes said to be carrying West Nile
Virus has been extended to cities up and down the entire east coast, and as
far west as the Mississippi River, even though there have been no human fatalities
in the US from West Nile encephalitis apart from eight people in New York in
the last two years. Spraying has taken place in almost every county in New York
State, as well as in New Jersey, parts of Connecticut (which used Scourge/Resmethrin),
Maryland, Massachusetts and along the entire eastern seaboard from Maine all
the way to Florida.
Despite overwhelming evidence of the hazards of indiscriminate pesticide
use, plans are underway to extend the broadcast spraying for West Nile-carrying
mosquitoes to urban areas such as Cleveland, Ohio and Detroit, Michigan. On
the west coast, massive indiscriminate spraying of urban areas is already underway
for other insects.
New York City remains the epicenter, and what happens there will dramatically
affect what happens everywhere else. Public health experts, mosquito control
technicians, and scientists who specialize in studying the effects of pesticide
exposure warn that this unprecedented use of chemicals on densely packed urban
populations will not only be ineffective for mosquito control but pose a far
greater health risk than West Nile Virus.
The main chemical used in 1999, Malathion (Fyfanon ULV), is described by
the NYC Mayor?s Chem-Bio Handbook - the City?s official guide to handling chemical
and biological emergencies which is distributed to every police precinct, ambulance
and fire truck - as a toxic nerve gas directly related to those used in WWII.
Anvil (Sumithrin + Piperonyl Butoxide + Petroleum-related byproducts), the synthetic
pyrethroid nerve gas sprayed from trucks in 2000, is known to cause asthma,
disruption of sexual hormones and various other health disorders, and has been
linked to breast cancer in women and diminished sperm counts in men.
According to a study by Dr. Mary Wolff of Mount Sinai School of Medicine,
the main component of Anvil, the chemical Sumithrin, disrupts human hormones
and has been shown to increase the growth of breast cancer tumors.
"Women who have breast cancer and who may be exposed to the spraying should
be notified about that," Wood said. "These politicians who have no knowledge
of this stuff keep saying it's okay. But I'm afraid 10 to 15 years from now
we'll be paying the consequences."
Rather than jump to costly pesticide spraying that has to be repeated every
year, Wood said, City Hall should look at its own successful and environmentally
sound ways of eliminating mosquitoes.
One of those methods is something called a Mosquito Magnet, a machine that
looks like a barbecue grill. It burns propane gas that sends out a plume of
carbon dioxide. The plume attracts mosquitoes who are then sucked in and killed.
One magnet can destroy adult mosquitoes over an acre of land.
The city is already using these machines in all of its waste treatment plants.
It needs to order hundreds, or even thousands, more.
What we don't need is an annual battle over pesticide spraying that does
more harm than the danger being fought.
Prevention and Control without Toxic Pesticides
mosquito repellent has been associated with seizures and several cases of toxic
encephalopathy (encephalitis) in children, including three deaths, according
to the Extension Toxicology Network at Cornell University.
Bug Arrest is an ecologically safe and effective pest management solution for
humans and pets. This non-toxic product contains natural enzymes that devour
the exoskeleton of pests such as fleas, lice, scabies, mites, and more.
Natural herbal remedies for insect bites and stings: redness, swelling, itching
Indoor/Outdoor Insector, The Bug Collector. How many sleepless nights have been
spent listening to the unnerving whine of a mosquito or the buzz/thwack of a
frantic fly? How many outdoor evenings have been spoiled by annoying moths or
a squadron of hungry mosquitoes? The new Insector Bug Collector works both indoors
and out to trap unwanted insect guests without resorting to electric zaps, gooey
adhesives or noxious poisons. Just plug in the Insector in your bedroom, kitchen,
backyard patio, anywhere you'd like to be free of flying pests. The insect-attracting
blue light lures flying insects toward a down-drafting fan that pushes them
into an inescapable trap in the base, where they perish naturally. Cleanup is
quick and easy — just unscrew the base and empty the trap. Insector is an effective,
yet attractive device with its sculptural profile and attractive translucent
blue color. Durable plastic construction withstands exposure to UV rays.
Essential Oil in Catnip is a highly effective mosquito repellant
CHICAGO, August 27 — Researchers report that nepetalactone, the essential
oil in catnip that gives the plant its characteristic odor, is about ten times
more effective at repelling mosquitoes than DEET — the compound used in most
commercial insect repellents. Entomologist Chris Peterson, Ph.D., with Joel
Coats, Ph.D., chair of the university’s entomology department, led the effort
to test catnip’s ability to repel mosquitoes. Peterson, a former post-doctoral
research associate at the school, is now with the U.S. Department of Agriculture
Forest Service, Wood Products Insects Research Unit, in Starkville, Miss.
In the laboratory, repellency is measured on a scale ranging from +100 percent,
considered highly repellent, to –100 percent, considered a strong attractant.
A compound with a +100 percent repellency rating would repel all mosquitoes,
while –100 percent would attract them all. A rating of zero means half of the
insects would stay on the treated side and half on the untreated side. In Peterson’s
tests, catnip ranged from +49 percent to +59 percent at high doses, and +39
percent to +53 percent at low doses. By comparison, at the same doses, DEET’s
repellency was only about +10 percent in this bioassay, he notes.
Peterson says nepetalactone is about 10 times more effective than DEET because
it takes about one-tenth as much nepetalactone as DEET to have the same effect.
Most commercial insect repellents contain about 5 percent to 25 percent DEET.
Presumably, much less catnip oil would be needed in a formulation to have the
same level of repellency as a DEET-based repellent.
Why catnip repels mosquitoes is still a mystery, says Peterson. “It might
simply be acting as an irritant or they don’t like the smell. But nobody really
knows why insect repellents work.” Catnip is a perennial herb belonging to the
mint family and grows wild in most parts of the United States, although it also
is cultivated for commercial use. Catnip is native to Europe and was introduced
to this country in the late 18th century. It is primarily known for the stimulating
effect it has on cats, although some people use the leaves in tea, as a meat
tenderizer and even as a folk treatment for fevers, colds, cramps and migraines.
Chris Peterson, Ph.D., is a former post-doctoral research associate at Iowa
State University in Ames, Iowa, and is now a Research Entomologist with the
U.S. Department of Agriculture Forest Service, Wood Products Insect Research
Service, in Starkville, Miss. Joel R. Coats, Ph.D., is professor of entomology
and toxicology and Chair of the Department of Entomology at Iowa State University
in Ames, Iowa.
From the mailbag - Natural mosquito repellent
I received this email from a visitor of my site to remind me of a safe natural
insect repellent. She writes: "There's another natural product that you won't
buy in a store that works against mosquitos and best of all its free - urine!
Of course, not too many people would have much desire for this method. However,
if you drink a bunch of water beforehand, then, on your next bathroom break,
collect a little urine, there will hardly be any smell to it. Rub it on and
no mosquito will touch you. I learned that in the rainforest of Costa Rica.
When we finished our rainforest trek and went to a hotel in San Jose, CR, the
hotel owner was very surprised that we had no mosquito bites (especially considering
that we travelled during the rainy season)."
DEET in Mosquito Repellents is Extremely Troubling
"The use of DEET has been associated with seizures and several cases of toxic encephalopathy
(encephalitis) in children, including three deaths, according to the Extension
Toxicology Network at Cornell University."
Think about using Deet?
In the July 30th edition of the Latrobe Bulletin I read an article
called, "West Nile virus spreading faster than expected". It advised using a
mosquito repellent containing DEET. I’ve heard that DEET is not safe for children.
What’s your take on this and are there any herbal insect repellents I could
use instead of products containing DEET? Jean M., Waterford, PA
DEET is the common name for N,N-diethyl-m-toluamid.
DEET is a unique pesticide because it is applied directly to the human body
for the purpose of repelling insects. It was developed and patented by the U.S.
Army in 1946 for use by military personnel. Deet was then registered for general
public use in the U.S. in the 1957.
Products containing N,N-diethyl-m-toluamide and isomers (DEET) are
beneficial as insect repellents, but have also been associated with dermal (skin)
irritation such as blisters and scarring (Reuveni and Yagupsky, 1982) and neurological
damage including toxic encephalopathy with symptoms of agitation, weakness,
disorientation, seizures, coma and death (Heick, 1980 and Zadikoff, 1979). DEET
is absorbed promptly through the skin and distributed to all organs including
the brain and (in case of pregnancy) the fetus. I gleaned this information
EXTOXNET, a Pesticide Information Project of Cooperative Extension Offices
of Cornell University, Michigan State university, Oregon State University and
University of California at Davis at their web site:
In 1995 the National Poison Control Center in Washington, DC. received over
6,700 reports of (DEET) repellent exposure side effects, including one death.
Of the 6,700 reports, two thirds occurred in children age six and under.
I have never used insect repellents containing DEET and I would not recommend
using them, especially on children. But with the recent threat of the West Nile
virus, I can understand how most people will panic and reach for the DEET. However
there are a lot of precautions one can take to protect themselves against mosquitoes,
such as getting rid of stagnant water around the yard and wearing protective
clothing when going into the woods or working in the garden. Last year during
the heat of summer I would work in my garden from 7:00 until dark. Although
this was more comfortable than mid-day, the mosquitoes were out in full force
and anxious to bite. After getting pretty bite up the first time, I decided
to pick some Sage and Chamomile leaves and rub them on my arms and face thereafter.
It worked and the mosquitoes left me alone!
There are several natural alternatives to DEET products on the market but
they are slow to catch on and you have to go to a health food store or on line
to get them. Granted the DEET formulas work longer (from 6 – 10 hours) than
natural repellents and so you’ll need to apply them more often if you’re looking
for extended protection. But that’s only an inconvenience with no toxic side
effects. As with most natural, alternatives, there is always a little inconvenience.
But what a small price to pay- don’t you agree?
A trip to your local health food store (if you’ve never visited one) will
open a whole new world of ‘chemical-free’ living for you. You can even find
safe, herbal, no aluminum deodorants there!
It’s no coincidence that Nature provides effective and gentle remedies for
all of our needs, including mosquito repellent. If you have your own herb garden,
you might want to experiment in making your own. Some herbs that are known to
work are Lavender, Peppermint, Thyme, Citronella, Lemongrass, Chamomile Eucalyptus,
Garlic, Basil, Rosemary and Sage. Use what you have growing. Make a strong herbal
tea of the fresh leaves. Let the tea cool and either put it in a spray bottle
or wipe it directly on the skin. Keep unused portion in the refrigerator and
make a new batch every few days.
Mosquitoes especially dislike Lavender and Thyme oils. Use pure essential
oil, and dilute it in a base of either water or carrier oil such as sweet almond,
sesame, grape seed or safflower. Dilute 2-6 drops of the essential oil into
1 teaspoon of a base oil to use topically. To make a water-based splash, add
5-6 drops essential oil to 1 Tablespoon witch hazel and 4 Tablespoons filtered/spring
water. Shake it well and spray on the skin.
One of the best formulas I have found to keep most bothersome insects away
- Thyme oil, 4 drops
- Lavender oil, 4 drops
- Peppermint, 4 drops
Add this blend of oils to 2 Tablespoons witch hazel and 8 Tablespoons filtered
or spring water. Shake well and spray onto skin. Re-apply as needed when outdoors.
This is a good blend for children also. If you do happen to get bit, tea tree
oil is always a good first choice, since it has antiseptic properties, reduces
inflammation and promotes skin healing.
There are natural alternatives Jean but it takes a little more time and effort.
As always, I urge you to do your own research and of course, listen to your
innate healing wisdom.
The Immune System: The body's defense department
From the South Dakota Department of Health - Office of Disease Prevention -
"West Nile virus disease is a mosquito-borne infection that can cause mild
flu-like illness or severe encephalitis. Although chances of a person getting
encephalitis are small, there are some simple steps you can take to reduce your
risk of being bitten by mosquitoes. Encephalitis is a viral infection. Mild
cases may include a slight fever and/or headache. More severe infections are
marked by a rapid onset of a high fever with head and body aches. Usually symptoms
occur from 5 to 15 days after exposure. There is no specific treatment for viral
infections, other than to treat the symptoms and provide supportive care. Those
who may be most susceptible to encephalitis are the elderly and persons with
damaged immune systems."
Your immune system is your bodyguard. It works both pro-actively and protectively
to shield you from anything in your world that threatens your life and limb.
The immune system is not responsive to drugs for healing. By rebuilding immunity,
health is naturally restored and disease disappears. If health and immunity
are thereafter conscientiously maintained, the individual is no longer vulnerable
to disease. According t o Dr. George C Pack, MD, a cancer specialist at Cornell
medical School, almost everyone has cancer cells present at times in our bodies.
If our immune system is working properly, these cells are killed or reabsorbed
by our defense system before they begin to grow and threaten our health. The
only real defense against cancer is the immune system. Everyone gets cancer
every day but if the immune system is where it should be those cancer cells
are eliminated and we never know it
Boosting the Immune System
Dr. Marlice Vonck, DVM
"Did you know that close to $10 billion was spent on antibiotics in the U.S. last year? Did you know that many bacteria have become increasingly resistant to these drugs and that many drugs are outdated as soon as they are released for use? Have you seen the many articles in Time and Newsweek (and many medical journals) about the variety of plagues caused by infectious agents throughout the world? What can we do to protect ourselves in a safe and natural way against this ever-increasing threat? Have you had a child or patient who has required multiple drugs to deal with one or several ear infections? This is how this threat touches our daily lives. We now have new HOPE . . .
What this all
means, is that when immune system cells have battled with specific disease invaders,
they produce a substance that transfers a message of warning on to other immune
cells. The newly alerted immune cells "remember" the warning message, producing
the same substance, alerting other immune cells. Once alerted, the immune cells
always "remember" who the specific enemy is, and how to attack it.
Do you have a question about Natural Health or need assistance?
Call 323-522-4521 or 323-989-3372