Herbal Insect Repellents©

By Jeanne Rose

            In the course of my practice during the years I was an herbal practitioner I got almost as many inquiries from people about their pets, as from people about themselves.  At most times of the year, the questions had to do with fleas and insects bothering pets, people, and infesting houses.  Short of hammering these horrible creatures over the head individually, nothing really wipes them out effectively, except for potent flea sprays or internal medications and poisons.  In the past, my technique was to have the house professionally sprayed about once every five years, and then use herbal remedies as repellents to keep fleas away.  I also fed myself, members of my family, and the dogs and cats with plenty of flea repellent foods, such as those that contain B vitamins, as well as using supplements of Brewer's yeast and B vitamins.  Nothing is as detracting to a flea as B vitamin tasting skin.  They just refuse to get near a pet that has been made healthy, whose coat and skin are shining with health from a daily dose of B vitamins, Brewer's yeast, additional fatty acids from wheat germ oil and a little zinc.   

There are wonderful products on the market that one can use to effectively to repel fleas as wall as flying insects.  Royal Guard Insect Repellent is one of the many completely natural products that are available at health food stores or natural pharmacies. Usually these products are composed of a variety of essential oils in a carrier oil base. These oils traditionally known for their insect repelling qualities include Myrrh, Pennyroyal, Citronella, Lemon Eucalyptus and others in soy oil or Calendula infused base.  The addition of Australian Tea Tree oil also helps to soothe the itch and sting of insect bites.  You can rub the oils on yourself or on your pets, especially on the back or belly of pets.  Everyone will smell good, while repelling the fleas. One can also compound various herbs and rub them on cats, dogs and people to repel insects and fleas.  These powders can be very effective and usually smell good as well.  Now, more often than not, I use the Royal Guard or similar product.       

Fleas like to inhabit dark corners, and smell warm tissue and jump to it.  If you mix powdered herbs, like Bay leaf and Eucalyptus together and sprinkle this along the baseboards, and in corners, the flea population will be considerably reduced.  You can also make flea herb pillows for your pets to sleep on.  The pillows should be made of Pennyroyal, Eucalyptus and Bay for dogs and Catnip, Valerian and Chamomile for cats.  These pillows are so entrancing to pets that they will claw, suck and chew, generally attempting to destroy them to get to the herbs inside.  For this reason, use a tough fabric, like denim to make the pillows.  Each should be stuffed with at least 8 ounces of the mixed herbs.

A natural flea collar is easy and simple to make.  You will need a jelly jar, 4 - 8 feet of 4 inch cotton rope or thick yarn, 1 Tablespoon. of cocoa butter or petroleum jelly and about 2 ounce of pure essential oil.  The oil should be a mixture of Pennyroyal, Citronella, Cedar, Bay, Eucalyptus, Lavender or Sassafras.  I especially prefer a combination of the first four in equal parts.  Mix the essential oil with the cocoa butter or petroleum jelly and cover the cotton rope with it.  Remember to get the mixture into all parts of the rope.  You may have to untwist it a bit to force the mixture into the spaces.  Place this rope in the jar, put the cover ion, and allow it to steep for a few days.  Remove the rope and pull it through your fingers to remove the excess.  Cut lengths that will fit your children's ankles, petís necks and tie in place using a square knot.   

Other insect repellents are listed in Herbs & Things, published by Last Gasp, 2001, and available at better bookstores, health food shops or Herbal Books, 219 Carl St. , San Francisco , CA 94117 .

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[original article 1980]

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