Essential Oils: Mother Nature’s Bug Repellent


By Cynthia J. Loving

Summertime and the living is easy, so the song goes. It’s a great time to enjoy longer days, soak up the warm weather, breathe fresh air, smell the flowers, play outside, plan cookouts, go on vacations – both mini and maxi. Ahh, life is good!

But along with all this fun and sun, challenges may arise. This is when we celebrate some of Mother Nature’s powerful healing tools: essential oils.

Essential oils are highly concentrated plant extracts, usually created by steam distillation of specific herbs, fruits, leaves, bark, flowers, roots, resins and other plant parts that possess medicinal properties. The concentration of the oils is quite amazing. To make one pound of lavender essential oil requires between 150-250 pounds of lavender flowers; 50-60 pounds of eucalyptus leaves will make only one pound of essential oil. It takes 400 pounds of rose petal to extract one drop of its beautiful essential oil.

Plants and their extracts have been used as medicine for centuries. When used properly, they can be quite effective in addressing a wide range of challenges and relieve many everyday issues.

As summer arrives, the bugs reappear. Essential oils come to the rescue with oils we like the smell of, but bugs detest. To keep the bugs away, we usually want to make a blend of several different oils such as citronella, kunzea (repels ticks and other bugs), eucalyptus lemon, lemongrass and cajuput. These can be put in a spray bottle along with distilled water, or as a topically applied ointment in aloe vera. If a bug gets you before you used the repellent, you can apply lavender and tea tree oils to relieve the itch and prevent infection.

Lavender is known to relieve the pain of minor burns, as well as to protect the skin from infections. It can be applied to small areas, undiluted, or in a base of aloe vera. A sunburn can be relieved by a blend of lavender, palmarosa, spearmint and chamomile blue in distilled water.

Simply inhaling some oils can have a wide range of benefits.

Respiratory issues:

Eucalyptus will liquefy mucus and open airways

Fragonia calms respiratory inflammation, promotes deep breathing

Spruce needle, black lowers inflammation and liquefies mucus

Mood elevation:

Cedarwood Atlas aids in grounding

Geranium provides balance and centering

Grapefruit, pink refreshes, promotes happiness

Calm stress and anxiety:

Frankincense eases fears, calms the nervous system, provides strength

Lavender calming, quieting, relaxing

Palmarosa eases restlessness, calms

Geranium balances the brain and hormones

Promote sleep:

Bergamot sedating, uplifting, refreshing

Clary sage eases depression, stress, sedating

Marjoram sweet relieves tension, quite calming

Stimulate memory:

Rosemary triggers memory centers of the brain

This is barely a brief sketch of the essential oils and their role in our lives. VIVA Mother Nature!

Note: Due to the concentration of these oils, essential oils should not be swallowed, even when put in water, or put into any orifice of the body, on open wounds or applied to the skin without dilution in a vegetable oil such as coconut, jojoba or olive oil. For adults, the dilution rate will usually be about 2% (10-12 drops in 1 ounce of carrier oil).

Cynthia J. Loving, LMBT, is a clinical aromatherapist and international aromatherapy educator in Greensboro and is the owner of Loving Scents. For more info, visit


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