Four years back, and headed to new adventures as a volunteer in Ghana, West Africa, I was supplied with Mefloquine (bad! bad! bad!).
After a few weeks of taking Mefloquine, I experienced loss of appetite, headaches and extreme nausea. I expected to encounter some side effects but not being able to keep food down? Or not want to eat at all? Or endure a lingering headache? No one can be expected to live with that consistently, especially in a developing country.
After a long, unfulfilling conversation with the medical officer and no comfortable resolve, I was fortunate enough to come across the Honey Centre in Saltpond, Ghana. I purchased all natural products for skin protection and bathing. The traditional Ghanaian soap consisted of plantain skins, pure tropical honey, natural citronella oil, and bee propolis. The bug repellant had similar ingredients but higher concentration and additional essential oils (future blog posts). The products smelled amazing, had no chemicals and worked beyond their advertised qualities!
Initially, I did not notice my good fortune; “Hey I was in a foreign land!” But soon realized that fellow volunteers were under bug attack while I was carefree in a bug-free bubble although in the same area. After a process of elimination, I found my bubble consisted of Citronella oil. Much excited commercial to begin in three, two…
Citronella oil beautifully masks any scent that would normally attract creatures that like to bite! It is from a certain species of grass that is related to Lemongrass (a distant cousin but different benefits). Its wonders include:
• Repel mosquitoes and other insects
• EPA lists as minimum risk pesticide
• Cosmetic fragrance, aromatherapy (makes me happy)
• Food and beverage flavoring (FDA approved)
• Control muscle spasms
• Expelling worms and parasites from the intestines
Continued use of Citronella oil in bathing soap has provided the comfort of not being bitten in almost four years! Quite the accomplishment for a 2-year resident and traveler of West Africa, who returned to Florida, worked in southern Africa and vacationed to the Caribbean. I recall being in Jamaica engaged in a conversation while sitting under a tree. It was noticed to be occupied with red ants and something locals call Police Bugs. When warned to relocate, I mentioned that neither bug had bitten me throughout my stay. Both Jamaicans and frequent visiting Americans was astonished. I thought nothing of it but later realized it was good ole Citronella and its fight the bite wonder.
Just a few dollars to purchase online or at a local, natural food store and consistent use will eventually end insect bites. Take 15 seconds to squeeze a few drops into lotion or soap, or even dab on skin will lead to a more pleasant Spring and Summer. Another option is to combine 4 oz. distilled water to 1 oz. citronella oil in a bottle, shake and spray for a safe, easy protection. No extra bad stuff like in those expensive insect repellents of which after use, you cannot touch your face.
I did not previously stress the effectiveness of Citronella oil when speaking to other volunteers and, in turn, literally witnessed one being bitten to extremity to the point that she half-way stripped naked in the middle of a national park! Worst of all, I lost my dear friend Danielle “Dani” Dunlap to cerebral malaria, the fastest moving and worst form of malaria which is caused by mosquitoes. I am haunted with constant self-frustration with not proclaiming Citronella’s wonder as a portion of natural alternatives to Mefloquine when many experienced more severe side effects than I. No one will ever know if Dani would be here today because of one change; I just know that I did not do my part of proclaiming my knowledge and that is one lesson she has taught me.
Place a billboard around my neck and change my name to Citronella to promote the value of its simple, effective use, especially when in warm climates and mosquito prone areas. I tell you it works!
So in honor of Dani, and hopefully with her family’s forgiveness, this message, and many related others will forever be the topics on my soap-box, Nursed By Nature.
Curious as to what else can aid to Fight the Bite? Check out post One-Two Punch.
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