Summer is almost here and the insects are lying in wait…

These past 2 months have gone by faster than I would have thought possible, yet here we are!  Spring has sprung, the flowers have bloomed and Summer is closer than we think.  In the Finger Lakes Region we’ve already experienced such extreme temperatures this Spring, that I know I’m not as prepared for the heat as much as I wish I was.   No New Yorker likes to admit they prefer the cool, crisp air of Fall through the early Spring.  It makes us sound even colder than our sarcasm usually does.  Haha! 😉  (Or maybe that’s just me…)

And with such wonderful warm weather, comes all of those little wonderful, not so warm & loving, critters.  I’ve already started taking out the oils needed to avoid pesky insects for my family and thought you may like to make these simple solutions as well!

The easiest solution to make is a hydrosol spray; essential oils suspended in distilled water.  In this preparation you should have either a blue or brown glass bottle with an atomizer/spritz top.  I can find these in my local health food store, Mother Earth Natural Foods.  Or you can find bottles in bulk and make a supply for the whole family! Try looking here at Specialty Bottle.  4 Ounce bottles are the best in size, not too big and enough solution to last a while.

Now for your selection of oils.  Citronella is the first go-to essential oil for most folks.  This essential oil is the most commonly used oil in insect repellents.  Citronella has many properties, which includes being anti-bacterial, anti-depressant, anti-septic, anti-spasmodic and anti-inflammatory,  just to name a few!

Other oils used when repelling insects are the following: Tea Tree Oil, Geranium, Patchouli, Cedarwood, Lavender, Peppermint, Lemongrass, Sage and Eucalyptus.   You don’t have to use all of these oils, in fact only using 3 or 4 will be fine!  It’s truly up to you, your tolerance and skin sensitivities.

I personally like to use Citronella, Geranium, Cedarwood and Tea Tree Oils.  These are all anti-bacterial, anti-viral and anti-inflammatory in nature.  They blend well together and aren’t photosensitive so you can be secure in wearing these oils out in the sun.  (Citrus oils derived from pure citrus plants/fruits are very photosensitive. They will aid in a lovely sunburn if the user is not careful!)  Also, as these oils are all healing oils, should you get bitten or scratched while hiking around, these oils will already be available to start your skin’s healing process.  Nothing like being prepared!

To make your so-long-insect spray you can follow these guidelines.  There are no perfect measurements (I have never been one to level off that tablespoon while baking 😉 ),  your nose is a wonderful tool in this process!!

  • First start with your base essential oil, Citronella, by dropping 20 drops into the bottle. * DO NOT add any distilled water until the essential oils are mixed!!
  • Geranium 5 drops
  • Tea Tree 10 drops
  • Cedarwood 5 drops (or more, to ground your oils and blend nicely)

Now cover the bottle with the lid, shake it a bit to mix oils throughly and reopen to smell.  It doesn’t have to smell like an amazing french perfume, however, if you don’t like it, then tweak it.  In my experience a little Geranium goes a loooong way, and Cedarwood will tone down other oils very quickly.  Feel free to add only one drop at a time, shake and smell again.  It makes no sense to repel humans just to avoid getting bit by bugs.  😉

Another version of the carrier medium is to use 1 table spoon of jojoba oil and 2 table spoons of vodka.  Add these to your essential oils once they are blended and shake, shake, shake your booty, or bottle. (haha)  I have yet to try this method, the theory is that it will last longer on the skin and will not need to be reapplied as often.  Do remember that when using only distilled water and essential oils, you will have to re-spray every hour or so.

Yet another solution is to add these essential oils to an fragrance-free lotion.  This will be easy to apply to young children and will last longer on the skin than just using distilled water.  However, you cannot apply it to clothes.  So pick your method and let me know how it works for you!!  Happy June!!  🙂

Massage your feet to help ward of those seasonal colds…

One thing most folks can’t say no to is a good foot massage.  Considering that there is a rough average of 15,000 nerve endings in each foot, it’s no wonder we turn into butter and melt.  This can be used to your advantage, in all seasons and for any particular reason, other than just wanting to relax and “take a load off”.   The use of Essential Oils and Reflexology is a great example of this.

In Reflexology the feet and hands are used as maps to the rest of the body, each place and space responding to another part or organ.  When pairing your area of massage with certain essential oils, you can have a profound effect as your whole body responds.    I have also found this to be the best way to get any “grumpies” under control when tending to the sick.  (Can you tell I’ve recently been caring for sick children? 🙂 )

Here is a great reflexology map for the feet.   We had a seasonal cold sweep through our home which included runny noses, coughing and sore throats.   My favorite essential oil for these symptoms is Eucalyptus.  *Always properly dilute essential oils with a carrier oil, such as Grapeseed, Almond or Jojoba.  Unscented lotion will do very well here also.  You can mix them in your hand or better yet (for proportions sake) mix the oils in a small glass bowl or jar that can be sealed and used again later.  For a tablespoon of carrier oil you can add 2-4 drops of Eucalyptus essential oil.  Starting out with fewer drops makes it easier to add as you need to without over doing it right off the bat.  A little goes a long way!

Finding the middle of the upper sole, right amongst the meta-tarsals (those long bones extending from your toes towards your ankles) is where you’ll locate the Reflexology Point for lungs.   Focusing on these points while massaging the feet will help direct the Eucalyptus to where it can help the most.

By nature, Eucalyptus is anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, antispasmodic, anti-fungal and anti-bacterial.   It is a perfect oil for the symptoms of seasonal cold and flu.  You can also massage this oil into the back of the neck or on the chest for added relief from congestion and sinus pressure.  *Smaller children (6 and younger) should never have essential oils applied directly to the skin.  They should be ALWAYS diluted in a carrier oil and rubbed only into the feet.   If there is any concern of a skin reaction, apply only a small amount first and keep watch for any redness or other reactions.

If any of you question how quickly essential oils may work; penetrating the skin and affecting the body, I suggest cutting a garlic clove in half and rubbing it on the bottom of your foot.  (Garlic is also a great raw remedy for the symptoms of cold and flu!)  Within the next 15 minutes you will find that your breath will smell like garlic (and not from licking your fingers)!  Just as your body responds to massage, your body responds to everything it comes into contact with.  Your skin is a living organ!  Using essential oils in your daily life is a great way to help boost your own strengths and get over that cold or flu faster.

Here is a great link for more Eucalyptus essential oil information!  You can also check out my links to find the best essential oils for your needs!   Happy massaging!