The use of synthetic chemicals to control mosquitoes has raised several concerns related to environment and human health. Natural products are a very good alternative because of their effectiveness and are environmentally friendly. Among those products, essential oils from plants have entered the picture and have been extensively tested to assess their repellent properties as a valuable natural resource. The study we will read about below used 4 essential oils – lavender, clary sage, Satureja khuzestanica and myrtle for their effectiveness to repel mosquitoes. So, let’s find out a little bit about each of them.
One of the most common essential oils used in aromatherapy massage is lavender(Lavendula officinalis). The use of lavender has been recorded for more than 2,500 years. Egyptians, Phoenicians and the people of Arabia used lavender as a perfume — and also for mummification, by wrapping the dead in lavender-dipped shrouds. Lavender essential oil is extracted primarily from the flowers of the plant through steam distillation. Lavender has been proven beneficial in reducing insomnia, hair loss, burns, nervous tension, respiratory infections, high blood pressure, arteriosclerosis, menstrual problems/PMS, skin conditions, blood fat/cholesterol reduction, reducing excess sebum on skin.
Myrtle (Myrtus communis) is native across the northern Mediterranean region (especially in the islands of Sardinia and Corsica). It has a clear, fresh, herbaceous scent similar to eucalyptus. The benefits of myrtle are in treating respiratory conditions, lowering blood sugar, improving skin and hair, reducing diarrhea, relieving peptic ulcer and hemorrhoids, eliminating inflammation, has a soothing effect when inhaled and repels mosquitos.
Clary sage(Salvia sclarea) is native to the northern Mediterranean region, along with some areas in North Africa and Central Asia. Medicinal uses of clary sage date back to the 4th century BCE. During the Medieval times, clary sage was nicknamed “clear eye” because it was considered beneficial in healing visual problems and is also useful in treating anxiety and fear, menstrual-related problems such as PMS and cramping, and helping with insomnia.
Now, we are ready for the study.
As mentioned before, lavender, clary sage, Satureja khuzestanica and myrtle were tested for repellent efficacy for mosquitoes. The oils were individually extracted using hydro distillation (A variant of steam distillation in which plant material is soaked for some time in water after which the mixture is heated and volatile materials are carried away in the steam, condensed and separated). The separated solutions in concentrations of 10%, 20% and 40% were added to ethanol. The maximum number of bites was observed with the 10% concentrations and minimum number of bites was observed with the 40% solutions.
The end result was essential oils – clary sage, lavender and myrtle proved to be effective in repelling mosquitoes, even with the 10% concentrations and after 5 hours. The researchers stated “These findings might open windows for formulating new repellents with less side effects and longer durability.”