Is DEET Insect Repellent Dangerous?

by Cynthia Kasper

Last night after dusk at my son’s baseball game, the players, coaches, umpires and spectators alike became a bunch arm flailing, body contorting, face grimacing mosquito killers.  It was unbearable.  Giant mosquitoes, the size of small fighter planes, were everywhere.  And there I sat, rubbing on my Young Living Essential Oils and swatting while other parents were using their cans of DEET insect repellent.  So the scientist in me observed that the people spraying the commercial DEET insect repellent were no less bothered by mosquitoes than I was.  So I ask you, do you use bug spray that contains DEET?  How effective do you find it?

To persuade you to at least stop using the DEET insect repellent, I did some research.  Based on a study published by BioMed Central Biology in 2009, DEET, or N,N-diethyl-meta-toluamide, inhibits cholinesterase activity in the nervous system of both insects AND mammals.  This makes it a neuro-toxin.  It negatively affects the central nervous system.  And you are putting it on your skin and on your children’s skin.  Which is absorbed into the bloodstream.  Do you see where I am going here?  Stop it.  Stop falling for the advertisements that show a happy mom spraying this stuff on her happy kids while peaceful music plays in the background and the announcer tells you, in a calm, lulling voice, that the effects of DEET on humans, especially children, are unknown.  You will more than likely achieve as good as or better results using non-toxic bug repellents.  At least you will have peace of mind knowing that you are not poisoning yourself or your kids.

Mosquitoes are out in record numbers this year in many parts of the US as a result of heavy rains and high humidity.  In addition to being just downright annoying with the buzzing and pricking and itching, they also serve as a carrier of a multitude of diseases such as yellow fever, malaria, encephalitis and West Nile virus.  The best line of defense is good offense, which in this case means focusing on reducing your exposure to mosquitoes.  Then, if you find yourself in the thick of it, use products that are non-toxic.

Tips for Avoiding Mosquitoes

  • Avoid mosquito infested areas between dusk and dawn, particularly when the weather is hot and humid.
  • Stay away from areas with still water.
  • Avoid wearing bright, floral fabrics.  (What? Mosquitoes have a fashion sense?)
  • Use non-toxic insect repellents if you find that mosquitoes are out and biting.

Mosquitoes have been around for over 170 million years, yet very little is known about what attracts them and why they prefer one person more to another.  Studies suggest that they are attracted to steroids or cholesterol on the surface of the skin, uric and lactic acid, carbon dioxide and movement.  Great!  All we need to do is stop sweating, moving and breathing!  So since mosquitoes clearly aren’t going to disappear any time soon, you can minimize their impact by using effective, natural, non-toxic deterrents.

Recipe for All Natural Mosquito Repellent

Natural Mosquito Repellent Blend 1

6 drops Eucalyptus radiata
6 drops lemon
6 drops lemongrass
6 drops peppermint
Dilute 4:1, vegetable carrier oil to essential oils, and apply to exposed skin as needed.

Natural Mosquito Repellent Blend 2

10 drops Purification
5 drops Idaho tansy
3 drops basil
Mix together and put into a 1 or 2 oz spritzer bottle and fill with purified water.  Spray on exposed skin as needed.

You also might want to try taking a B-complex vitamin.  (Who couldn’t use a good B-complex?  Try Vitamin Code Raw B-Complex by Garden of Life.)   Some studies have confirmed that thiamine (vitamin B1) produces a skin odor female mosquitoes dislike.  Yes, only the female mosquito bites.

Worried about the diseases the mosquito transmits?  Strengthen your own immunity by eating healthy foods, getting plenty of fresh air, exercise and rest.  And support your body with additional supplements from Young Living.

On the bright side, during the ride home from the baseball game, my son and I discussed the value of the bothersome mosquito.  We acknowledged that mosquitoes are, just by virtue of their existence, a part of the ecosystem.  Therefore, they must serve a useful purpose.  Mosquitoes are food for bats, birds, dragonflies, tadpoles and fish.  The mosquito larvae also pollinate certain species of water plants.  And while it is hard to admit, they cull weaker animals, humans included, who fall ill through the mosquitoe’s transmission of virus and bacteria.  They strengthen the survivor’s natural resistance to these illnesses.  This fortifies the species as we all continue to evolve.  So mosquitoes do have some redeeming values, but somehow it still doesn’t make up for the fact that they are maddening.

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