Spending time outside, getting your vitamin D, and frolicking in nature are all essential components of the Bulletproof lifestyle. While you’re benefiting from the mood-boosting effects of trees and fresh air, there is something out there that can throw your Bulletproof upgrade into reverse.
Prevalence of tick-borne illness including Lyme disease is on the rise with no sign of slowing down. The CDC lists about 30,000 cases of Lyme disease every year, and that’s just a fraction of what doctors diagnose or report. Compare maps from 2001 to 2015 (maps here) – it’s a little alarming when you’re in or near a blue zone.
Why Lyme disease is spreading
Why are we hearing so much about Lyme disease all of a sudden? Ecologists think the increase is a result of forest fragmentation – the breaking up of dense forest areas to make way for human development.
Just so happens that the white-footed mouse thrives in smaller patches of wooded area. And the white-footed mouse is both a Lyme disease carrier and a food source for the black-legged tick (aka deer tick or bear tick), the Lyme host that transmits to humans.
As human development expands, so do those blue sections on the CDC maps.
Avoid infection with easy, natural precautions
After playing outside in wooded, grassy, or brushy areas, check for ticks. Nymphs start feeding on blood when they’re as small as a speck of black pepper, so it’s not overkill to inspect every little particle of dirt you find.
Here’s how to do a thorough tick check:
- Keep a comb in the car and do thorough tick checks on yourself, the kids, and the pets before you head home.
- Thoroughly check any gear you took with you.
- Look for ticks on clothing.
- Keep the dog’s hair short in the summer so you can easily check her for hitchhikers.
- If your zoning allows, get some guinea hens. They love to eat ticks and they’ll provide eggs if you keep them happy enough.
What about bug spray?
Where’s the bug spray in our precautions list? Well, the main active ingredient in most bug sprays, DEET (N,N-Diethyl-meta-toluamide), causes adverse effects such as manic psychosis, seizures that power through anti-convulsants, and cardiovascular changes. This stuff is bad news. Just skip it.
Avoiding DEET doesn’t mean forgoing bug spray altogether. Bugs simply do not like a select variety of plants, and you can use this to your advantage with a few targeted essential oils. Ticks, in particular, have very specific distastes and some oils like tea tree, geranium, and eucalyptus are even lethal.
Your natural, homemade bug spray recipe, backed by science includes:
- Tea tree oil: Tea tree oil actually kills ticks, so that’s a no-brainer.
- Lemon Eucalyptus: This one has strong tick repellant properties, comparable to DEET.
- Citronella: No bug spray is complete without citronella because mosquitoes suck in every sense of the word.
- Lavender and geranium also repel ticks but aren’t as strong as lemon eucalyptus. Go ahead and add them anyway for a little extra protection and more importantly so you don’t smell like a tiki torch.
DIY Bug Spray Recipe
- 1/4 cup water
- 1/4 cup witch hazel astringent (use distillate for dry or sensitive skin)
- 1/2 tsp Brain Octane Oil or other light culinary oil
- 10 drops lemon eucalyptus essential oil
- 10 drops citronella essential oil
- 10 drops tea tree essential oil
- 5 drops geranium essential oil
- 5 drops lavender essential oil
- Combine all ingredients in a dark glass spray bottle. That’s it! Since the essential oils tend to float on top, give it a good shake every time you apply. Adding a few drops of castile soap or vegetable glycerin can help with separation, but you still have to shake before applying.
Even if you’ve sprayed, go through the tick check after hanging out in areas with trees and brush. It’s too quick and easy of a step to skip.