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What's in your bug spray?

Are your mosquito spray repellent ingredients safe?

What toxic ingredients are in your bug spray?

There may be a multitude of chemicals that can harm you at a cellular level.  For instance, DEET is a repellent that at worst, can trigger low blood pressure, seizures, fatigue, respiratory issues, memory loss, tremors or loss of coordinated movements[i], cancer, and at best skin irritation.


There are over 230 products or insect repellents in the U.S. with 100% concentration! Dr. Mohamed Abou-Donia, Ph.D. has pushed for safety studies as his research has linked symptoms similar to signs of Gulf War syndrome found in veteran soldiers who served in the Persian conflict.


Believe it or not there is products containing DEET in sunscreen.  You do NOT want to bake these chemicals along with the harmful chemicals found in sunscreen into your skin!


What does DEET affects on humans?

Dr. Abou-Donia’s studies state it affects the brain cells in a degenerative way leaving behind ROS/Reactive Oxygen Species.  These are commonly known as free radicals where diseases including cancer can grow.  If you have used DEET based products in the past, I highly recommend taking a natural product called Protandim.  It will remove up to 40% of your oxidative stress within 30 days.  It is like cleaning up all the leftover trash from used cells and hiring a full time housekeeper.


There are hundreds of toxic chemicals in the products we use such as bug spray and sunscreen.  Some products have layers of chemicals that can cause cancer and hormone disruption. Using a natural product is a great way to begin cutting your toxic load while still enjoying your life outdoors.


What are the top 3 harmful insect spray chemicals?

DEET is #1, with Cyfluthrin coming in at #2.

Cyfluthrin works in the same manner as DDT and is similar to it structurally.  This toxin is stored within your fat cells so if you are not actively detoxifying, it can remain stuck and causing symptoms. The neurotoxic affects interfer with your sodium and potassium ion channels.  These disruptions throw the balance off as shown in the Na/K on a Hair Analysis test highlighting cellular membrane issues.  This toxin can decrease your cell sugar or glucose and interfer with liver function.


The #3 offender is Permethrin.  This chemical is often used as a pesticide for crops and bug sprays.  Just as its friend DEET, it can cause cell death in the brain affecting motor skills, neurological symptoms, and even behavioral issues.  Additionally it is sadly an environmental toxin to bees and fish.


What other insect spray ingredients are harmful?

There are ingredients mentioned by government agencies that are said to be safe such as Picaridin which is a plant based repellent that is similar to DEET low concentrations.  This is not recommended for children under 3 years old! As a matter of fact, it should be dismissed as safe as they contradict it’s safety by the age limitation.


Pyrethrins are made from the chrysanthemum flower but is still a manufactured pesticide that can affect your breathing when inhaled in large amounts so know your ingredients[ii].  At any rate your safety should come first!


What is the most effective DEET free bug spray?

I often refer to for reference on product safety so if you want to purchase a spray instead of making one yourself try one of these:

  • Melaleuca Natural Insect Repellent
  • Avon Skin-So-Soft Guard Plus Picaridin (I use this on my horses for gnats around their ears)
  • Natrapel 8-hour
  • Cutter Lemon Eucalyptus
  • Coleman Botanicals
  • OFF! Botanicals


I often share many “recipes” with clients who are looking to use a natural and non-toxic bug spray.  I’d be happy to share my DIY bug sprays if you email me or comment your interest.  If you don’t have the time or inclination to make your own (it is quite simple), you can always purchase one.


I live in an urban area with woods and a swamp owned by the DNR across the street so we can hear the mosquitoes coming at dusk sometimes. I use a citronella-based spray on my horse’s bodies and we spray ourselves down 30 minutes before dusk.


My go-to is Melaleuca Natural Insect Repellent because it is DEET free, smells GREAT, and it works. The peppermint, cinnamon, thyme, geranium, and lemongrass repel the buggers without the chemical toxins. After a long winter, we are ready to enjoy spring without the bites.


When we are in the woods we use duct tape flipped in half around the top of our socks to stick ticks before they get up our pants.  Tucking your pants into your socks as well as wearing light colored clothes can help a bit as well as taking a garlic supplement.  Also taking 300 mg of daily B1 (Thiamine), and Brewer’s yeast supplements a few days before a lengthy exposure such as camping or hiking can help coupled with peppermint oil on your hats to ward off deer flies.


Are there natural plants to repel mosquitoes?

If you are spending time eating on your patio or deck you might want to have a variety of the following plants around and on your outdoor space such as:

  1. Citronella grass to fill a 5’ spot or potted plants (rub on your clothes and skin)
  2. Catnip (10X stronger than DEET and your cat will love you too)
  3. Marigolds (deer and rabbits don’t like them too)
  4. Peppermint (chew to freshen your breath as you walk by and relief for itchy bites)
  5. Lemon or Cinnamon Balm (yummy flavor for soups and tea)
  6. Basil (dry some leaves for cooking)
  7. Lavendar (the fragrance will help you to relax even more)
  8. Rosemary (cut weekly to flavor foods)
  9. Garlic (planted among some decorative grasses can also be eaten at summer’s end)
  10. Pennyroyal flowers (butterflies love them)


By eliminating toxic exposure to these chemicals for the summer months, you can cut your risk of illness.  Mosquitos and other bugs such as ticks can carry disease so make sure your family is covered with a safe alternative.


You can bolster your immune system by balancing your minerals and detoxifying your heavy metal toxic load.  If you do contract a bug borne illness, you can recover faster and completely. Hair Analysis will show you what you need to do.

LET’S CHAT about your health goals!


[i] & Duke University Medical Center

[ii] – MedlinePlus [Internet}. Bethesda (MD): National Library of Medicine (US); cited. Available from:

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