I've been investigating which herbs & essential oils will repel insects effectively, without chemicals like the dreaded deet. It's almost a paranoia how often thoughts of disease-carrying mosquitoes cross my mind. When I was carrying Elijah, a woman in my Centering Group (with our midwives) mentioned something called Thieves Oil that is recorded to prevent the spread of Bubonic Plague among those raiding the homes & graves of deceased victims. One of the thieves must have been an herbalist, living to credit the potion for their survival.
Old records describe several recipes that are very much alike. Each herb in tincture form should be effective in place of today’s insect repellents. Of course, superstition was rampant in those times, disease was misunderstood & history books often confuse superstition with herbal healings. Common sense & more recent medical understanding tells me why an herbal vinegar could work so well.
Rosemary, being a strong antiseptic, was one of the choice herbs (even just the smoke from burning it). Wormwood & Rue are the bitterest of herbs. Both are antiseptics and vermifuges (kill worms). Wormwood has been used internally but can cause convulsions. Lavender & peppermint are high in volatile oils, excellent ingredients for a very good insect repellent, as well as being pleasant smelling. Sage is a lymphatic, which is important to remember in cases of a bubonic-type disease outbreak. Of course, garlic, as the king of herbs, is antiseptic, antimicrobial, antibiotic and, antifungal—chemicals that kill parasites.
Thieves Vinegar is my next experiment as a super-strong insect repellent, diluted with water to half strength when we spray it directly on our skin. Splashed on socks or shoes will discourage ticks, chiggers & mites. An herbal cloth in your pocket & rubbed on your skin ever hour or so would be great for outdoor work or play. A nightly bath with a little herbal vinegar & oil will keep it on your skin for many hours, which could help while in the country or on camping trips. It should only be used externally.
- 2 tablespoons Rosemary
- 2 tablespoons Sage
- 2 tablespoons Lavender
- 2 tablespoons Wormwood
- 2 tablespoons Peppermint
- 2 tablespoons fresh, chopped garlic
- 2 quarts of apple cider vinegar
- Combine 12 Tbsp of the premixed herbs & 2 quarts of vinegar in a sealed glass jar. Steep in a cool, dark place for 2 weeks or so, shaking daily. Strain out the used herbs, & retain the herbal liquid mixture.
- Add several cloves of crushed garlic & close lid. Let soak for 3 days, strain out the garlic fiber to be discarded.
- This liquid tincture needs to be stored in a cool place, like the refrigerator. It can be preserved for a very long period of time by canning. You would fill canning jars with boiling liquid tincture to within one-half inch of top. Cap with rubber seal canning lid, tighten ring, turn hot jar upside down & leave it undisturbed until it cools to room temperature. This will cause the jar to seal. Date & label it clearly.