With spring having finally sprung, as the last molehills of formerly mountainous amounts of snow (in Boston and throughout New England and Upstate New York) begin to melt, and as the formal rites of a new season of baseball begin today, tens of millions of Americans will soon take to the outdoors. They will enjoy the greenery of their local ballparks, as well as the public places, camping grounds and hiking trails of their respective towns and neighboring points of recreation.
And, beneath those blades of grass and behind those bushes and columns of trees, are the enemies of good health and personal wellness: The bugs—and bug bites, from mosquitoes and other insects—that result in so many bumps, scrapes and scratches; the inflammation that causes intense itching, compromises an otherwise fun weekend of parent-child bonding or family camping or canoeing.
We should try to repel or avoid these threats. But we must not do so at the expense of absorbing a veritable chemistry set of possible toxins and irritants, the very ingredients found in a multitude of bug sprays. We must not, in other words, treat our bodies like crops, as we generously coat ourselves in chemical clouds of oil and hazardous particles (from the pesticide DEET) that we should neither inhale nor impose on our skin.
This issue is of personal importance to me because, as someone who welcomes the arrival of spring in our nation's capital and looks forward to seeing the cherry blossoms and visiting our grand monuments on the Washington Mall and alongside the District's tidal basin, I know that I am a walking feast for mosquitoes; that I take in these sites at my own risk, forgoing the chance to coat myself in a toxic mist that may harm my skin and pollute the environment.
Addressing these challenges is part of a broader campaign, where, in my role as the founder of Kiss My Itch Goodbye®, I seek to help men and women suffering from the skin problems associated with chronic itch and other disorders.
I believe that, as a matter of education and individual empowerment, people need to know that, one, there is an organic means of alleviating itch; and secondly, we do not have to postpone or cancel outdoor picnics and barbecues, in addition to swim dates and group excursions, because of the pests that surround a park or playground.
Instead, we need to be aware of the holistic alternatives at our disposal—we need to stop treating our skin as a super-absorbent sponge that suffers no adverse effects—so we can make our own long-term health and wellness a top priority. We must do these things, since current practices are needlessly risky and incredibly injurious to our overall experiences with the outdoors.
Lest I write in generalities or issue sweeping statements, allow me to answer this fundamental query, "What can I, as an avid fan of the outdoors, do to protect myself from a night-time swarm of mosquitoes…without damaging my skin?" My response is simple: Stop polluting your body—stop polluting the environment, period—and start looking for natural ways to safeguard your skin.
Review the many natural options, the do-it-yourself choices that may already be in your cupboard, kitchen cabinet or medicine kit, that can repel insects without repulsing your skin. And talk with your healthcare provider about any specific issues you are concerned about.
Read, Evaluate and Act: Defend Your Skin in Every Environment
This call to action is just that: A summons to no longer be a passive participant in a ruinous (to your skin and/or the environment) situation, which causes more harm than good; which perpetuates the use of questionable products and the acceptance of these practices by the public at large, while less expensive and more effective alternatives are before us.
I recommend exploring the use of commonplace spices or derivatives of these oils (to cite one example), which have an established record for its efficacy as an organic pesticide against mosquitoes.
I encourage readers to gather as much information as possible—speak to fellow campers and hikers about their use of alternative remedies—that make the outdoors more inviting.
I implore everyone to seize the excitement of spring, without fear of pests or harm to your skin.
Make it a joyous spring—and summer, too WF
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Posted on WholeFoodsMagazine.com 4/7/15
This piece is not intended to be taken as medical advice. Speak to a healthcare provider to get more information about diabetes and any potential side effects.