Tuesday, August 18, 2009

How to Deal with Mosquitoes during the Dog Days of Summer

Concerning issues related to health, I always advise my patients to follow the wise advise of King David, who says in Psalms: "Sur me'ra va'ase tov," first get rid of that which promotes or exacerbates a particular problem, and then take proactive steps to resolve it.
As we go into the season when the sun feels a little bit hotter, and the air is a little more humid it is important to understand some basic mosquito biochemistry.

Mosquitoes are attracted to the following:

1. Dark clothing. Therefore try to always wear light colored clothing.
2. Co2 (Carbon Dioxide). When we are hot, sweaty or have been exercising, we give off more Co2. Fires and candles are also sources of Co2, so it's always a good idea to burn a candle where you aren't going to be.
(I should add at this point, that if you tend to have body odor even if you shower regularly and have good hygiene, a medical condition called bromhidrosis, consider taking zinc supplements on a regular basis. I have never had a patient with this problem who didn't respond positively to zinc supplementation!)
3. Perfumes, colognes and other floral fragrances like shampoos.
4. Any Moisture including standing water, and perspiration.
5. Know that the peak mosquito biting hours are from dusk to dawn, so avoid going out during those hours, and cover yourself up as much as possible.
Now as far as insect repellents, if you ask your doctor, he will probably recommend that you use DEET. DEET is a VERY effective insect repellent... HOWEVER, DEET, it is so poisonous that even theEnvironmental Protection Agency says you should wash it off your skin when you return indoors, avoid breathing it in and not spray it directly on your face. I would therefore not recommend using it.
There are, many natural remedies that will repel mosquitoes. Here are some effective ones that I am familiar with:
1. Vitamin B1 (thiamine). Take a B complex containing at least 10 mg of Thiamine 2x daily. It will change your body chemistry so that mosquitoes will be repelled. (Never take individual B vitamins as taking one can cause deficiency in others that you are not taking).
2. Citronella repels them.
3. Tea tree oil. Dab it on areas that are vulnerable.
4. Garlic-eating it, too, will change your body chemistry and will repel them.
5. Cinnamon oil, if you can find it, is an effect repellent.
6. Eucalyptus oil. same as previous.

As we approach the month of Elul and start to prepare ourselves for the Days of Awe, may you merit to draw yourself closer to Ha-Shem...and become completely unattractive to mosquitoes!

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