If you live near woods or meadows, you are probably well aware of ticks and the nuisance they can present. Not only can they latch onto you and bite, but according to The New York Times, they can carry and transmit Lyme, Powassan, and other neurological conditions. While antibiotics can cure some of these conditions, isn’t it much better just to repel ticks and prevent tick bites before they ever happen?
Luckily, cedarwood essential oil (Cedrus atlantica) does a wonderful job of repelling ticks. It is from the Atlas Mountains of northern Africa and it was used by the Egyptians to embalm the dead.
Cedarwood essential oil actually acts to repel and harm ticks in six different ways:
- It sucks the moisture out of the bodies of insects, causing them to die of dehydration.
- It throws the pH level of the tick out of equilibrium, causing the tick’s major body systems to malfunction.
- It encapsulations and/or emulsifies the tick’s bodily fats
- Cedarwood phenols interfere with the natural pheromones of the tick. This causes the scent receptors of the tick to be blocked, in turn interrupting processes necessary for metabolism, movement, feeding and reproduction
- It irritates and suppresses the respiratory function of the tick, essentially smothering them
- It interferes with developing tick larvae, causing ticks in the early life stages of eggs, larvae, and pupae to dissolve and disintegrate
That said, here are a couple of recipes that can help you to safely and effectively use cedarwood essential oil:
Cedarwood Witch Hazel Spray
- Add 4 ounces of distilled water to an 8 ounce spray bottle, and then add 4 ounces of a commercial witch hazel preparation (containing preservative).
- Add 30-50 drops of essential oil – cedarwood, rosemary, citronella, lavender, lemongrass, eucalyptus and lemon eucalyptus are all excellent choices to repel ticks and other insects.
Cedarwood Apple Cider Vinegar Spray
- Add to an 8 ounce spray bottle: 3 ounces distilled water, 3 ounces commercial witch hazel preparation (containing preservative) and 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar.
- Add to this mixture approximately 10 drops cedarwood essential oil, 10 drops citronella essential oil and 10 drops rose geranium essential oil. (Lemongrass, lavender, eucalyptus, and lemon eucalyptus would also be good choices).
With both of the above sprays, shake the bottle before using and spray on your clothes and skin. Repeat every 20-30 minutes while outdoors, and take care to apply thoroughly where ticks may climb under clothing (cuffs, pant openings, neckbands, etc.)
Pregnant women should consult their doctors about whether cedarwood essential oil products are safe for them to use. Cedarwood essential oil should not be used on infants or young children or by those having medical conditions which contraindicate its usage. Cedarwood essential oil should never be ingested or applied undiluted to the skin.
- Elias, S.P., C.B. Lubelczyk, P.W. Rand, J.K. Staples, T.W., ST. Amand, C.S. Stubbs, E.H. Lacombe, L.B. Smith, and R.P. Smith, Jr. 2013. Effect of a botanical acaricide on Ixodes scapularis (Acari: Ixodidae) and nontarget arthropods. J. Med. Entomol. 50:126-136.
- Jordan, R.A., M.C. Dolan, J. Piesman, and T.L. Schulze. 2011. Suppression of host-seeking Ixodes scapularis and Amblyomma americanum (Acari: Ixodidae) nymphs after dual applications of plant-derived acaricides in New Jersey. J. Econ. Entomol. 104:659-664.
- Jordan, R.A., T.L. Schulze, and M.C. Dolan. 2012. Efficacy of plant-derived and synthetic compounds on clothing as repellents against Ixodes scapularisand Amblyomma americanum (Acari: Ixodidae). J. Med. Entomol. 49:101-106.
- Rand, P.W., E.H. Lacombe, S.P. Elias, C.B. Lubelczyk, T.W., ST. Amand, and R.P. Smith, Jr. 2010. Trial of a minimal-risk botanical compound to control the vector tick of Lyme disease. J. Med. Entomol. 47:695-698.