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10 Liver-Friendly Tips for Repelling Mosquitoes

These 10 suggestions for keeping mosquitoes away, naturally, can have those with liver disease enjoying the great outdoors – without putting their liver’s health in jeopardy.

The arrival of summer puts more people outside to enjoy the warm weather than any other time of year. Although most of us consider summer’s picnics, hikes, swimming and other outdoor- activities to be fun and carefree, this season also has a dark side. Especially for those who tend to be targets for buzzing, biting nuisances, the itchy welts left by mosquitoes can put a damper on any summer celebration. To prevent being bitten by hordes of mosquitoes, many people rely on commercially available insect repellents. Unfortunately, most of these products are too toxic to be safely used by those with a compromised liver.

Any kind of chemical that must be removed from the body’s blood supply puts an added burden on the liver. Those with chronic liver disease are either at risk of or already have a liver with limited capacity to function. Thus, introducing unnecessary chemicals to the liver’s daily workload could put too much stress on the hepatic system and result in subsequent liver cell damage.

To keep mosquito annoyances at bay, the most popular solution is the topical application of DEET-containing mosquito repellents. While DEET (diethyl-meta-toluamide) is fairly effective at repelling mosquitoes, its toxicity is a major concern for those who have chronic liver disease.
Preventing insect bites from mosquitoes, biting flies, fleas and other small, flying insects, DEET was developed by the U.S. Army in 1946 for protecting soldiers in insect-infested areas. Despite reports confirming DEET’s toxicity, this chemical has been used by the general public in the United States since 1957.

Metabolized by the liver, DEET can find its way into the bloodstream in several ways:

·    Skin Absorption – DEET-containing products are usually applied topically – directly on the skin. After being applied, DEET is found in the blood for up to 12 hours. Greater quantities of this chemical are absorbed when it is in a product containing alcohol or when it is combined with a sunscreen.

·    Inhalation – DEET can be unintentionally inhaled when insect-repelling sprays are used, especially when applied in indoor spaces where the vapors can linger.

·    Ingestion – Although no one purposefully ingests mosquito repellent, accidental ingestion occurs easily when hands are not washed thoroughly after using DEET on the skin.

Regardless of its ability to gain entry into the bloodstream, DEET-based insect repellents represent big business. However, even the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) hints at DEET’s toxicity. According to the EPA, DEET should not be used frequently. Confirming the need for caution, The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends no more than one application of DEET per day for children. These positions assume that a person’s liver is functioning at 100 percent. Because of the variety of ways DEET can gain access to the bloodstream, those with chronic liver disease are urged to find alternative ways to repel mosquitoes.

Alternative Repellents
Listed below are 10, liver-friendly suggestions for reducing the risk of being a mosquito’s buffet:

1.    Wind Power – Because mosquitoes are known, weak fliers, they don’t have the strength to battle wind. Thus, many people are placing powerful fans in outdoor areas, not just to keep cool, but also to blow away biting insects.

2.    No Standing Water – Mosquitoes are attracted to and breed in standing water. Therefore, make sure you are not encouraging their presence. Replace all standing water regularly as found in birdbaths, ponds and unfiltered pools and make sure receptacles that could catch water have drainage.

3.    Time it Right – Avoid going outdoors during dusk and dawn when mosquitoes are most active.

4.    Skip Bananas – When heading outside, choose foods other than bananas and other high-potassium foods. Experts believe eating such foods attracts mosquitoes, because they are attracted to the lactic acid given off after consuming potassium-rich foods.

5.    Go for Garlic – Mosquitoes appear to be naturally repelled by its smell, so include fresh garlic in your summer menu planning. Others insist that pinching a garlic clove and rubbing its juice over exposed skin is the best natural mosquito repellent.

6.    Screen Repair – Check and repair all screens (doors and windows) for holes or tears that mosquitoes can use to enter a home. Experts suggest putting mesh screening or hardware cloth over bathroom and other vent outlets on the roof to keep insects out.

7.    Befriend Bats – One small brown bat can catch about 600 mosquitoes per hour. Many people benefit from installing a bat house on their property to attract these useful insect eaters.

8.    Lighten Up – When dressing for the outdoors, opt for white or light colored clothing, because mosquitoes are attracted to dark colors.

9.    Try Essential Oils – Sold individually or in combinations as natural insect repellents, there are several essential oils that deter flying pests, including citronella, eucalyptus, geranium, catnip, lavender and clove.

10.    Weed Whack – Remove overgrown and unneeded vegetation from your outdoor space. This eliminates having a desirable place for mosquitoes to rest.

Being outdoors during warm weather involves taking a mosquito gamble – there is no guarantee you will escape their bite. This even applies to those applying DEET-based repellents on a regular basis. However, many people successfully escape mosquito bites with the insect repelling suggestions above without putting their liver health at risk., DEET: General Fact Sheet, Retrieved July 1, 2010, National Pesticide Information Center, 2010., Mosquito-Free Naturally, Michelle Schroffo Cook, Retrieved July 1, 2010,, 2010., Mosquito Repellant Warning for Hepatitis C, Nicole Cutler, L.Ac., Retrieved June 30, 2010, Natural Wellness, 2010., Summer Mosquito Safety, Retrieved July 1, 2010, American Mosquito Control Association, 2010., Chemical Mosquito Repellant DEET Causes Neurological Damage, Gets Absorbed Through The Skin, Mike Adams, Retrieved July 1, 2010, Natural News Network, 2010.

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About the Author

Nicole Cutler, L.Ac., MTCM, Dipl. Ac. (NCCAOM)®

Nicole Cutler, L.Ac., MTCM is a long time advocate of integrating perspectives on health. With a Bachelor's degree in Neuroscience from the University of Rochester and a Master's degree in Traditional Chinese Medicine from Five Branches Institute, Nicole has been a licensed acupuncturist since 2000. She has gathered acupuncture licenses in the states of California and New York, is a certified specialist with the National Acupuncture Detoxification Association, has earned diplomat status with the National Commission of Chinese and Oriental Medicine in Acupuncture and Chinese Herbology and is a member of the Society for Integrative Oncology. In addition to her acupuncture practice that focuses on stress and pain relief, digestion, immunity and oncology, Nicole contributes to the integration of healthcare by writing articles for professional massage therapists and people living with liver disease.

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