Giving your body the best possible chance to fend off infection and fight illness has never mattered more. Here are 10 natural tips for boosting your immune system.
A study of over 22,000 participants discovered that people who sleep less than six hours per night are more likely to suffer from colds and other respiratory infections.
To enjoy the optimal amount of sleep each night, aim for approximately 7-8 hours and avoid alcohol, caffeine, and other stimulants in the 6 hour window before bedtime. Avoiding sources of blue light—like phone, laptop, and TV screens—during the hour or so before you plan to sleep can help improve the quality of your sack time, too.
A balanced diet full of vegetables, fruits, nuts, and seeds is vital to immune system health, especially when it comes to successfully fighting off infectious diseases. Our bodies’ produce dangerous free radicals when defending themselves against illnesses, and a healthy diet can help remove these molecules by supplying our bodies with antioxidants.
Substances naturally found in the plant-based foods mentioned above, antioxidants help shield our body’s cells from the potentially damaging effects of harmful free radicals. To boost your immune system, add more of the following antioxidant-rich foods to your diet:
- Red cabbage
- Red grapes
- Sunflower seeds
- Sweet Potatoes
It should come as no surprise to learn that excessive alcohol consumption can wreak havoc on your immune system—including making you more vulnerable to lung infections, pneumonia, and acute respiratory stress syndrome (ARDS), a common cause of death via respiratory failure.
Try cutting back to a single drink a day (1 beer, glass of wine, or cocktail), or better yet, consider an alcohol fast for the time being.
We all know the air we breathe daily plays a substantial role in our health. What you might not know is that traditional air fresheners, candles, and other synthetic fragrance products are among the biggest sources of indoor air pollution. The noxious chemicals contained in these products have been tied to cancer, respiratory problems, and other serious health complications.
In other words, do you, your family and pets a favor and stop using these harmful products today. Instead, open your home’s windows for 10-15 minutes each day and switch to family-safe, pet-safe air fresheners.
Like the chemical-based air fresheners mentioned above, many common household products are outright poisonous, detrimental to both our immune system and everyday health.
To help protect your immune system, trade your traditional, chemical-based household cleaners and pesticides (including flea & tick products) for safer, toxin-free alternatives. This will improve your home’s air quality, too!
Stress not only makes us feel bad, it also suppresses our immune systems. Studies show chronic stress hinders healthy immune system function and increases general body inflammation, which can ultimately lead to poorer overall health.
To help keep your stress levels in check, make sure to get enough sleep and exercise at least 2-3 times a week. If you’re still experiencing heavy stress, consider adopting a daily meditation or yoga routine.
Study after study shows a strong link between regular exercise and immune system health. Frequent exercise is believed to strengthen the cells in your body that defend against disease, increase the circulation of these cells, and also help fight aging.
The Department of Health and Human Services recommends getting at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic exercise (or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic exercise) each week. They also suggest doing strength training for all major muscle groups at least twice a week. But don’t let these general guidelines deter you from doing any at all—some exercise is always better than none.
Whether you smoke or not, cut those tobacco fumes out of your life. Inhaling cigarette smoke isn’t just about lung health. It’s also been shown to weaken your immune system’s defense against infection, as well as increase the likelihood of bronchitis, pneumonia, and other respiratory complications.
The advice is simple: do not smoke, including secondhand smoke.
Did you know sunlight can naturally boost your immune system?
It works in two ways. First, sunlight increases vitamin D levels, which are known to benefit immunity. Second, sunlight directly activates key immune cells (infection fighting T cells), helping them to move more efficiently throughout the body.
Approximately 15 minutes a day in the sun is enough to reap the benefits.
Evidence suggests cutting down on your sugar consumption could help you have a stronger immune system. Foods high in added sugars—like packaged meats, treats, and fast food—are known to temporarily reduce the effectiveness of your immune system for several hours.
In other words, if you regularly consume sugar-rich foods, chances are your immune system is constantly in a compromised state. The next time your sugar craving kicks in, skip the candy and reach for a sweet fruit like mango instead.
There’s not enough hand sanitizer to go around right now and it sucks. The store shelves are empty, and unless you bought in bulk a few weeks ago, you’re probably fresh out like the rest of the country.
We’re all a little stressed and anxious at the moment, but having hand sanitizer is one thing you won’t have to worry about anymore. Below you’ll find quick, easy instructions for making a DIY hand sanitizer in the comfort and safety of your own home—and all it takes is three ingredients.
Reminder: Institutions like the CDC and WHO reiterate that hand sanitizers are not a substitute for washing your hands, which remains the most effective approach to preventing the spread of infectious diseases.
A former CDC doctor specializing in viral disease outbreaks, Dr. Rishi Desai, has stated that the below recipe will kill 99.9% of germs after approximately 60 seconds.
- 3/4 cup rubbing or isopropyl alcohol (go with the 99% strength)
- 1/4 cup aloe vera gel
- 10 drops of tea tree or lavender essential oil (lemon juice also works)
It’s important to mention that you should not further dilute this recipe, as the CDC advises 60% alcohol content is the minimum strength needed to kill most germs. Increase the concentration to 70% for disinfectant mixtures.
First thing, thoroughly wash and dry your hands (remember: lather your hands with soap for at least 20 seconds before rinsing them off).
Then, ensure the tools and surface you plan to use to make your sanitizer are also clean. We recommend disinfecting your countertop or tabletop with a diluted mixture of bleach and water or another disinfectant. Wash dishes and utensils as normal before use.
Finally, mix everything together in a bowl, stirring until the solution is completely mixed (a whisk will help you reach the desired gel consistency faster).
As per the World Health Organization’s recommendation, let your DIY hand sanitizer sit for a minimum of 72 hours once it’s finished. This gives germs and bacteria introduced while you were making the sanitizer time to die. For the same reason, be careful not to touch the mixture at any point during the above process to avoid contamination.
Lastly, don’t forget to clearly label the bottle so there’s no confusion later on.
- 60 seconds—don’t forget that number. That’s how long it takes for hand sanitizer to kill most germs. After applying, continue to rub your hands together for at least 60 seconds until the sanitizer evaporates.
- If your hands are visibly dirty, do not rely on hand sanitizers alone. When hands are covered in dirt or grease, hand sanitizer is far less effective. In these cases, wash your hands first, then sanitize.
- Again, hand sanitizers are not a substitute for washing your hands, which is still considered the most effective approach to preventing the spread of disease.
If you’re a plant parent, sooner or later you’re going to come across a creepy-crawly or two—or, more likely, a few dozen. After all, when you bring a piece of nature indoors, usually nature brings a few friends along with her. While there’s no real way to completely prevent this from happening, by taking a few simple precautions you can greatly reduce the number of houseplant bugs you encounter. Chances are, you’ll save a few plant lives, too.
Here are 5 houseplant pest prevention tips:
Not only is this the most obvious tip to prevent houseplant pests, it’s also arguably the most effective. Before taking any new plant babies home, do a careful and thorough inspection. Look closely for webbing, odd leaf discolorations, sickly looking stems, as well as actual insects, too. Take your time and pay close attention, pest symptoms can be subtle and quite small.
If you happen to notice anything out of the ordinary while plant shopping, let an employee know. This will allow the shop to isolate the plant, treat it for bugs, and will help prevent other shoppers from taking home an infested houseplant.
To prevent potential bug problems from spreading, it’s a good rule of thumb to isolate new plants from your current collection for around 30-60 days. This will give you ample time to carefully observe your new plant baby for signs of illness or infestation before introducing it to the rest of your plant family.
Whether it’s a new addition from your local nursery or an old one you’re reusing, planters should always be deep cleaned before each use. This will significantly decrease the likelihood of cross-contamination for not only pests but also fungi and harmful bacteria.
To clean pots, fill your kitchen sink with a mixture of water, natural dish soap, and ¼ cup vinegar. Scrub for several minutes, dry, and you’re ready to re-pot!
It might seem obvious: but always use fresh, sterile soil. Using soil that’s been left outside unsealed or previously used soil is just asking for trouble. Eggs, bacteria, fungi, and various harmful insects are all known pitfalls.
While doing your weekly waterings, make a habit of also closely inspecting each of your plant babies and giving them a quick clean. Large-leaved plants like Alocasias and Monsteras will especially benefit from weekly washes, as dust and other debris can quickly accumulate on their big leaves, which can interfere with photosynthesis.
Take this time to look for signs of houseplant bugs, such as sickly leaves and stems, webbing, or sticky residues. If you spot anything, immediately isolate the plant and consider lightly spraying it 1-2 a week with a non-toxic, plant-safe insecticide.
To clean your houseplant’s leaves, simply spritz it with water and wipe it dry with a microfiber cloth.
Houseplants are so, so cool—houseplant bugs so aren’t. Whether you currently have houseplants or planning to beautify your home with some soon, you’re going to face bugs at some point or another. It’s just part of being a plant parent. In fact, there’s a good chance bugs are slowly killing one or more of your plants at this very moment, and you just simply haven’t noticed yet.
Because there are no natural predators indoors, houseplant pests multiply very quickly. One day your plant’s thriving, the next it’s wilting under the weight of a dozen hungry insects. Before you lose a loved one—like the stunning Monstera lighting up your living room, or that new Alocasia your friends can’t stop talking about—school yourself on the common houseplant bugs below. Here is How to Get Rid of Bugs in Houseplants:
Usually green but sometimes white, yellow or even black, aphids are soft bodied insects that reproduce at an alarming rate. A few individuals can become a colony that overwhelms your plant seemingly overnight. As they feed on your houseplant’s sap, robbing it of vital nutrients, aphids weaken both stems and leaves, causing stunted growth and eventually the death of your plant.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR:
Aphids can often be spotted in clusters on stems and the underside of leaves. If you’re dealing with green aphids, they’re not always the easiest to see, so take notice if your plant’s leaves suddenly become sticky with an unknown residue. This substance, called honeydew, is essentially just aphid poo. Gross, right!?
WHAT TO DO:
A few strong blasts of water is usually enough to remove aphids from your houseplant, though it can take several rounds to get rid of them all. Repeat as needed if you notice they’ve returned. And of course, exercise caution to not damage your precious plant in the process. Non-toxic, plant-safe pesticides and insecticidal soap also work great against aphids.
Fungus gnats are tiny black flies that can inhabit houseplants. While annoying, the adults aren’t much to worry about, but the larvae can do serious damage as they feed on root systems in addition to other organic matter in plant soil. Fungus gnats are mostly a threat to younger plants, but if a population gets large enough, they can certainly harm your mature houseplants, too.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR:
Fungus gnats aren’t hard to identify: if you see small black flying bugs surrounding your houseplant, you almost certainly have fungus gnats.
WHAT TO DO:
First thing: avoid overwatering. Overly moist soil is a huge attractant for fungus gnats. Placing dryer sheets around affected plants, can also help considerably. Similarly, installing flypaper around the plant can do wonders for shrinking a fungus gnat population. To kill eggs and larvae in your soil, lightly spray it weekly with a non-toxic, plant-safe insecticide.
These white, fluffy insects are among the most difficult houseplant pests to get rid of. As they suck the sap from your plant’s stems, they slowly but inevitably cause fatal dehydration to your plant baby.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR:
Mealybug infestations are quite easy to spot. These durable bugs are usually found bunched up on stem joints and look almost exactly like tiny cotton balls. Plants infested with mealybugs will appear somewhat dehydrated, no matter how often you water them.
WHAT TO DO:
If you catch them early, mealybugs can often be controlled with plant-safe insecticides, by removing infested stems, or by rubbing individuals with cotton swabs soaked in rubbing alcohol. They can also sometimes be removed by a strong jet of water in the shower. However, more developed mealybug problems are, sadly, usually terminal, requiring you to toss infested plants in order to save your other plant babies from infestation.
Like mealybugs, scales are small insects that suck sap from your plant’s stems, slowly killing them via dehydration. Also like mealybugs, they can be extremely difficult to treat, in large part due to their hard shell which effectively shields them against predators and traditional pesticides.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR:
Small oval-shaped insects, ranging from tan to brown, typically found on the underside of leaves and around stem joints.
WHAT TO DO:
While they can be prevented by regularly applying non-toxic, plant-safe insecticides to your houseplant, once a scale issue has taken hold, it’s usually too late for pesticides to do much good. At that point, your best bet is to try removing them with a soft brush or something with a fine edge like a credit card.
Bordering on microscopic, spider mites are red arachnids that get their name from the telltale webbing they leave on the plants they inhabit.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR:
Apart from their webbing and the damage they cause, spider mites can be all but impossible to notice. If your houseplant has spider mites, you’ll probably notice a loss of leaf color, as well as yellow or brown markings throughout.
WHAT TO DO:
Especially early on, spider mites can be somewhat easily controlled simply by keeping your plant’s leaves and stems moist. A daily spritz with a spray bottle filled with water should be sufficient. For larger problems, spraying more often and applying a non-toxic, plant-safe miticide will do the trick. It’s also a good idea to isolate plants suspected of mite infestation from your other houseplants.
Small, white and almost always seen in clouds as opposed to individually, whiteflies occupy houseplants and gradually leach them of their moisture, resulting in sickly, distorted-looking leaves. They usually won’t outright kill your houseplant, but they’ll definitely make it look far less attractive.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR:
Are there dozens of small, white flies on or around your houseplant? If so, it looks like you picked up a whitefly problem. Plants infested with whiteflies often have leaves covered in waxy or sticky residues, and sometimes even darkish mold.
WHAT TO DO:
Getting rid of whiteflies is similar to getting rid of fungus gnats. Placing dryer sheets and flypaper immediately adjacent to infested plants will significantly reduce your whitefly population. To kill the rest, we suggest reaching for a non-toxic, plant-safe insecticide. Because adult whiteflies can leave a plant once it’s sprayed, it’s important to keep spraying the plant every few days or so until the issue is completely resolved.
Australia’s ongoing bushfires have been nothing short of devastating.
Since September, over 20 million acres have burned, an area of land larger than last year’s Amazon rainforest fires, and over 80 times bigger than the infamous 2019 California wildfires. Every state in the country has been affected, including national parks and protected nature preserves. And there’s no end in sight.
27 people have lost their lives, including volunteer firefighters. And an estimated 1 billion animals have died, a figure many experts consider conservative. The Australian ecosystem may never fully recover, especially not without our help.
Below you’ll find 3 ways you can help the people and animals of Australia during this unprecedented disaster.
Donate to Support Those in Need
Donations to support those most severely affected can be made to the Australian Red Cross or American Red Cross, Salvation Army Australia, the St. Vincent de Paul Society Australia, and more.
To directly support firefighters and firefighting efforts, donations can be made to Victorian Country Fire Authority and the New South Wales Rural Fire Service.
The NSW Rural Fire Service has also set up a donation page for the families of firefighters who have lost their lives this bushfire season.
Donate to Support Australian Wildlife
Donations to support wildlife can be given to WIRES (The New South Wales-based Wildlife Information, Rescue and Education Service), the Australia Zoo Wildlife Hospital, Wildlife Victoria , RSPCA Australia, Zoos Victoria, and the World Wildlife Fund Australia
It’s simple: the more people that understand and care about the ongoing crisis, the more help those in need will receive.
How can you help raise awareness? Spread the word by simply sharing this article and info with friends, family, or over social media to show others how they can help Australia, too.
Trashed Christmas trees end up in landfills where they can take decades to decompose, and once they finally do, they release noxious methane, a greenhouse gas that’s worse for the environment than carbon dioxide
Here are 5 tips for recycling or reusing your Christmas tree instead:
But Before Your Recycle…
Make sure you remove ALL decorations from the tree, as well as the plastic bag you use to drag it to the curb. Items like Christmas lights and ornaments not only damage the chippers they use to recycle trees, but can also cause serious harm to the individuals operating the machinery.
Note: Unfortunately, if you have an artificial tree or a flocked tree—the ones sprayed in that fake snow—you’re not going to be able to recycle it.
Support Your Community
Often to benefit local parks and animal habitats, many cities collect Christmas trees and repurpose or recycle them to support the local community.
Search online or contact your city directly to learn how to take advantage of their recycling program.
Recycle it Yourself
Several local organizations—such as the Boy Scouts, game & fishery depts., even zoos and animal sanctuaries—accept trees from those looking to recycle them on their own.
Visit Earth911.com to find a recycling option near you.
If you have access to a wood chipper, your unwanted Christmas tree can be easily transformed into excellent compost.
For those without a compost pile, your Christmas tree’s branches are perfect for starting one. A 5-inch stack of thin evergreen branches makes for a great compost base, allowing plenty of airflow for a productive bin or pile. Then, add your compostable items like kitchen scraps on top and you’re good to go.
Return it to Nature
For those in rural areas, returning your tree to nature by simply placing it somewhere on your land is also an option. Not only will this provide food and housing for wildlife, but the tree’s needles can be harvested for an effective, slow-to-decompose mulch.
Emerging from eggs laid on clothing, furniture, and carpet, carpet beetle larvae can ruin a closetful of clothes in no time, especially natural items like wool, fur, mohair and more.
What to look for: Small beetles for adults (most commonly black or brown, sometimes multicolored), and small caterpillar-like larvae (usually brownish red, covered in fine hairs).
Infamous for leaving holes in clothing, moth larvae feed on wool, flannel, fur, and almost any other textile that’s dirty or recently used (sweat, food, skin oils, etc are all appetizing to these destructive pests).
What to look for: Whitish worm-like larvae with a hard outer shell, and very small white or gold-colored moths for adults.
Silverfish and Firebrats
These close relatives are both expert clothing destroyers, preferring starched items, natural fibers like rayon, silk, and cotton, and those stained with sugary food and drink.
What to look for: Silver wingless insects with carrot-shaped bodies about ¼ inch long.
While they don’t usually eat clothing on purpose, roaches are attracted to the sweat, and food spills that end up on our clothing. When consuming these items, they often create holes and stain fabrics with excrement.
Like roaches, crickets eat clothing stains not clothing itself. Small holes and tears, not to mention cricket poop, can easily lead to hundreds of dollars in damage in only a few weeks.
Store Items Correctly
That means freshly cleaned, starch-free, and in a cool, dry place in tightly sealed containers or nylon bags (leather and fur items require breathable bags, such as cotton).
Regularly cleaning and vacuuming rugs, carpets, draperies, baseboards, furniture, and storage closets substantially lowers your risk of clothes-eating pests by removing eggs, larvae, and the debris they need to survive. Dispose of the bag when finished.
Naturally Kill & Repel
Hang freshly dried lavender or Cedar Granules inside of a stocking in your chosen storage area to protect against damaging bugs. A cedar-based spray like Cedarcide Original can also be used throughout the space to kill and repel.
For already infested items: try washing & drying them, freezing them for 48 hours, or treating them with a fabric-safe insecticide like Cedarcide Original.
Each November, men across the world participate in Movember, a charity campaign where participants grow mustaches to raise awareness for serious men’s health concerns, including testicular cancer, prostate cancer, and suicide.
Whether this is your first Movember or you’re a seasoned veteran, the following 6 tips will help you grow the best ‘stache possible for the cause of supporting men’s health!
Start with a Beard
In those first embarrassing days when your mustache would be a sad, spindly little thing, having a full beard can help salvage your reputation. For whatever reason, a thin in-progress beard just looks way less creepy than a thin, in-progress mustache on its own.
Try growing a beard and then trimming it into a mustache later to avoid weirding out your friends, family, and coworkers. Just remember to trim it fairly quick, Movember is all about sparking conversations with your mustache, goofy looking or not.
Reach for Biotin
While reviews and studies are mixed on the subject, many believe Biotin, the vitamin responsible for nail and scalp health, can stimulate additional hair growth—and that includes your ‘stache.
Chances are it won’t make much of a difference, but if you’re desperate, it’s worth a shot.
Grab a Mustache Brush
Not only can they make your ‘stache look more full and luxuriant (especially for those of us with puny, patchy facial hair 😢), mustache combs and brushes are essential for styling, too.
Say, for instance, your mustache always grows downward, but you really need it to grow out to the side instead. Daily combing or brushing can help train the hairs to grow the direction you want, making styling much easier in the long run.
Avoid Harsh Face Washes
Harsher face washes—like the types that combat acne, for example—can wreak havoc on your mustache game. From stripping the hair of color to impeding growth, it’s best to avoid chemical-based cleansers if your aim is a healthy-looking cookie duster.
Convert the Haters
Haters gonna’ hate. Thankfully, this month, hating on ‘staches is much, much harder. You’re growing it to support men’s health and combat cancer after all. You’re basically a superhero.
But seriously, these types of interactions are what Movember is all about. Each joke and awkward stare (they’re just jealous!) is an incredible opportunity to start a conversation about the ongoing male health crisis and the countless men who die prematurely from suicide, testicular cancer, and prostate cancer worldwide. This is your time to shine—make it count!
Attention patchy facial hair sufferers: mustache wax is your new best friend! In addition to moisturizing facial hair and helping loads with styling, wax can do wonders for hiding bald spots above your lip. And don’t worry, it won’t look like a combover.
Even those with thick hair can benefit from mustache wax, especially when it comes to taming those stubborn rogue hairs that always seem to stick out in the wrong direction, or back into your mouth when you’re trying to eat
Unfortunately, no matter how diligent you are with pest control and applying repellents, bug bites are still going to happen. That’s just the world we live in. Thankfully, just as there are natural approaches for preventing bites, there are natural options for soothing them once they occur. The next time a bug leaves you with a red, itchy bump, try one of these 6 natural bug bite remedies.
Not only is oatmeal moisturizing and soothing, but research shows it’s also an anti inflammatory capable of relieving skin irritation caused by bug bites. To use: Make a paste by mixing equal parts oatmeal and water and apply it directly to the bite site. Allow the mixture to sit for 10-15 minutes, then simply wipe it off with a wet cloth.
Bug bites and stings cause your immune system to release compounds called histamines, which typically leads to an itchy reaction. Aloe vera has antihistamine, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial properties, which can do wonders to relieve this irritation. For this approach: Cut open an aloe vera leaf and apply the plant’s gel to the irritated skin. Reapply as needed.
Lemon balm, an herb in the mint family, has natural antihistamine properties, which makes it awesome for alleviating bug bites and stings. To use: Finely crush fresh lemon balm leaves and spread liberally on affected areas.
It smells incredible, improves mood, and to top it off, it also helps soothe bug bites. Take advantage of lavender oil’s anti-inflammatory and antiseptic qualities by diluting it with a carrier like coconut oil and spreading in on bug bites or stings.
Ice or Ice Packs
Ice works to calm the itching of bug bites in two ways. Firstly, the cold constricts blood vessels, decreasing inflammation and the body’s natural histamine response. Secondly, the ice will numb the site, reducing the urge to scratch. Using a cloth or similar barrier, apply the ice or ice pack to the bite area. Remove after 5-10 minutes.
When applied topically, Chamomile has restorative, anti-inflammatory effects. In fact, one study found that it both reduces pain and helps lesions heal more quickly. To use: Steep a chamomile tea bag in a glass of water in the refrigerator for about 30 minutes. Squeeze out the water, and apply the tea bag directly to the affected area. Remove after 10 minutes.
DEET is arguably the most popular bug repellent in the U.S. Each year, millions of Americans spray it directly on their skin before camping, hiking, and cookouts to repel biting insects like mosquitoes. While DEET has one of the safer reputations among synthetic insecticides, it’s still an artificial chemical, and therefore something you should think about seriously before using around yourself, your family and pets. Here are 7 scary details to consider before you reach for another bottle of DEET-based bug spray.
Mosquitoes Are Adapting to It
While some types of mosquitoes are known to have a genetic resistance to DEET-based repellents, it seems now other mosquitoes are developing an immunity, too.
A study examining the host-seeking behavior of mosquitoes found that three hours after an initial exposure some mosquitoes displayed insensitivity to the repellent. Researchers believe this decreased response to DEET after previous exposure indicates that individual mosquitoes can adapt an immunity against the repellent that’s based on something similar to a learned behavior rather than solely genetics.
It’s Been Linked to Seizures
Although infrequent, potentially fatal seizures have been linked with DEET use. In 1998, The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) pointed to up to 46 cases of possible DEET-related seizures, including, sadly, 4 deaths.
The agency noted “it does appear that some cases are likely related to DEET toxicity,” and also suggested that more seizure cases are probably linked to the repellent but that “physicians may fail to check for history of DEET use or fail to report cases of seizure subsequent to DEET use.”
It Can Increase the Toxicity of Other Insecticides
Did you know DEET can actually strengthen the toxicity of other common synthetic pesticides?
Carbamates, a toxic family of insecticides often used in conjunction with DEET, is one such example. One of the studies that looked at DEET’s toxic interaction with carbamate insecticides concluded, “These findings question the safety of DEET, particularly in combination with other chemicals, and they highlight the importance of a multidisciplinary approach to the development of safer insect repellents for use in public health.”
It’s Neurotoxic to Mammals
It was long believed that DEET simply had an olfactory effect on biting insects like mosquitoes, meaning it repelled them simply by smell. More recent studies have discovered that while DEET does repel by scent, it also deters pests through neurological means.
One such study states “We’ve found that DEET is not simply a behavior-modifying chemical but also inhibits the activity of a key central nervous system enzyme, acetycholinesterase, in both insects and mammals”. Commenting on similar findings, researchers of another study concluded, “These findings indicate that DEET has neurological effects on insects in addition to known olfactory effects, and that its toxicity is strengthened in combination with other insecticides.”
It Can Melt Plastic
If you knew your bug spray could melt plastic, would you still put it on your skin?
In addition to repelling bugs, you might be surprised to learn DEET is a rather powerful solvent, especially when it comes to synthetic materials like plastic. This is especially relevant to outdoor enthusiasts like hikers and campers, as DEET is known to destroy items like camping gear, plastic bottles, sportswear, and more.
It’s Toxic to Pets
The ASPCA Animal Poison Control Center states that pets exposed to DEET products can experience “significant clinical” side effects. These health complications include skin irritation, eye damage, and respiratory issues, including airway inflammation and difficulty breathing. Gastrointestinal distress and nervous system problems are also linked to DEET exposure, such as ataxia, disorientation, and seizures.
It’s Said to Alter Mood and Impair Cognitive Function
The Pesticide Information Project of Cooperative Extension Offices of Cornell University reports that in the late ‘80s Everglades National Park employees were studied to help determine the possible health consequences associated with prolonged DEET exposure.
It was discovered that those who used DEET more frequently were more likely to suffer negative side effects, including but not limited to insomnia, mood disturbances, impaired cognitive function, nausea, headaches, dizziness, and more.