We’re approaching summer bug season in many parts of the northern hemisphere, which in addition to sun and fun means lots of smelly insect repellant wafting through the air. The standard chemical ingredient in many conventional bug sprays is DEET, a neurotoxic chemical that, although it seems to work against annoying critters, is also working against you and your family’s health. But you have a friend in yarrow herb, which just so happens to work better than DEET at repelling insects without causing harmful side effects.
If you live in hardiness zones 3-9, which covers the vast majority of the U.S., chances are, yarrow already grows wild somewhere in your yard or neighborhood. Its flowers are small and clustered, and can manifest in a variety of appealing colors including red, pink, yellow or the common white. But these amazing plants represent more than just eye candy, offering health-conscious folks a safe escape from pesky mosquitoes, horse flies, ticks and various other insects, all without the need to apply any poison.
The Healthy Home Economist‘s Sarah Pope recently published a helpful recipe for making a yarrow tincture at home that, when produced correctly, offers superior protection against insect bites without the toxicity of a DEET-based repellant formula. Though you don’t have to make your own yarrow tincture at home to take advantage of its benefits, Pope suggests that doing so will produce the greatest potency.
Referencing the work of Wise Woman Herbal’s Susun Weed, Pope notes that research conducted by the United States Army found that yarrow extracted into a tincture works better than DEET at repelling ticks and mosquitoes. Though it doesn’t always last as long, yarrow tincture is orders of magnitude safer than conventional bug sprays, which makes it worth investigating as you continue your journey away from chemical toxicity.