Dr. Pratap Chauhan, Ayurvrdacharya and Director, Jiva Ayurveda
Mosquitoes, today causes a lot of fatal diseases, out of which malaria is one of the biggest threats. Even in 21st century, 15 million cases and 20,000 deaths are estimated by WHO South East Asia Regional Office. India contributes 77% of the total malaria in Southeast Asia. As it is said ‘precaution is better than cure’; we can always avoid malaria by keeping mosquitoes at bay. There are a lot of remedies or repellents available in the market for keeping ourselves safe from mosquitoes but are they safe, is the question.
What Mosquito Repellents do?
If you are wondering how insect repellents work, then here's some interesting stuff for you! Mosquitoes and other insects such as ticks and flies, detect you by the smell of carbon dioxide emitted from your body. Since DEET is an aromatic compound with a strong odour, it helps mask the odour of carbon dioxide and in the process, makes it impossible for the insects to detect your presence. Research has proved that repellents can successfully protect you from mosquitoes and other insects and they are more often used on children. However, this has a flip side: the various side effects that these repellents can cause. Here we shall look into the reported dangers of mosquito repellents.
Dangers of Using Mosquito Repellents
It has been found that topical application of repellents containing DEET, can cause long-term side effects. This is because of the fact that nearly 50% of the chemical penetrates into the deeper layers of the skin and around 15% of it, to the bloodstream. This can adversely affect the skin and prove toxic for the body. Laboratory research conducted on animals, have shown that DEET can cause damage to the brain cells and affect the musculoskeletal system and the internal organs.
In humans, children are the most vulnerable, as their tender skin absorbs substances more readily. In some cases, toxic substances from repellents have been reported to affect the nervous system and even affect the growth rate. Given below are some of the potential health hazards and side effects of using chemical-based mosquito repellents.
üDifficulty in breathing
üTiredness or fatigue
üPain in the joints
üInflammation and redness of the skin
üInflammation of the eyes
üInsomnia or sleeplessness
Prolonged exposure can sometimes lead to serious complications, although such cases are very rare. The risks of excessive exposure to insect repellents are as follows:
üMild to severe depression
üLoss of memory
üTremors and seizures
üAdverse effects on the central nervous system
Now, the question arises, "Can we do without insect repellents completely?" Dr. Pratap Chauhan, Ayurvrdacharya and Director, Jiva Ayurveda has some solutions which can certainly help you.
Take equal quantities by weight of 3 easily available powders, viz. Mustard, Neem leaves and natural sea salt. Mix the powders and store. Use it like Sambrani or guggul. Take an iron bowl with burning red coal in it. Sprinkle little powder in instalments. There will be smoke. Fan the smoke. Let it permeate the room or the house .The mosquitoes fly away because the smoke is unbearable for them.Ideally the mixture should be sprinkled on hot and dried dung cakes. The smoke is not poisonous. If a person is allergic to any of the above 3 ingredients used he must not use this .
A mixture of Cedrus Deodara (deodar), Andropogon Nardus (lemongrass), Cymbopogon Citriatus (lemongrass) and Azardirachta Indica (Neem) is also a good repellent. Other Ayurvedic remedies to keep these mosquitos away:
Camphor known as “kapura” in Hindi act as a very effective mosquito repellant. Light a small piece of camphor in your room and shut the door and windows. Leave the room closed for 15 min. Your room will become a mosquito free zone.
Neem oil is also a great mosquito repellant. To make and effective skin friendly insecticide, mix neem oil and coconut oil in 1:1 proportion and apply it on the body. This will protect you from mosquito bites for at least 8-10 hours. This is very helpful especially if you are sleeping in your balcony or any other open area or camping in woods.
Tulsi is extremely effective in killing the mosquito larvae and keeping them away. Tulsi plant has medicinal properties which does not allow mosquitos to enter your home. So plant a Tulsi in your home and keep it on your windows.
Lavender is a natural mosquito repellant. The divine and strong fragrance of lavender keeps the mosquitos at bay. Burn lavender oil in your fancy aromatic lamps or use lavender room freshener to keep mosquitos away from your home.
Keep shrubs like neem, Tulsi, lemon grass, marigold, mint etc. inside your home. These plants acts very strong natural mosquito repellants and also add beauty to your home.
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