Dr. Kaitlyn N. Staal
Safe & Natural Tick Prevention
Ascension Naturopathic Healing Center, LLC
Co-Authored by Jen Shaw, LMT, ESTI and Kaitlyn Staal, ND, MSAc
It’s that time of year again, the daffodils are blooming and the dreaded ticks are crawling out of their hibernation, getting busy feeding off of the wild life and anyone who walks on their lawn or goes out for a hike. Tick season is no joke; Lyme disease and other tick-borne illnesses can threaten our livelihood and wellbeing in more ways than one. Many of you, including the staff here at Ascension, have experience with Lyme and the long term effects of the disease, whether through first-hand experience or through someone you care about.
We wanted to share with you a few tips and strategies to help make this season a safe one, while still being able to enjoy the outdoors without paranoia or high risks.
SPRAYS FOR CLOTHING AND PETS:
We both highly suggest the Nantucket spider spray for yourself and their dog version for your furry companion while hiking or working in high potential tick areas.
You can make a homemade version with Rose Geranium and Cedarwood essential oils, mixed with apple cider vinegar and water (there are many recipes online, here is one suggestion: https://livingwellmom.com/essential-oil-tick-repellent/)
You should always tuck your pants into your socks, tuck your shirt into your pants, wear light clothing, and when practical long sleeves as well. Pull your hair back if long, and consider a hat.
Since ticks can be really tiny, rolling yourself with a lint roller before entering your car or home is highly recommended. Always check yourself after any time outdoors, and every night before bed: use a mirror or two to check all the nooks and crannies. Armpits, elbow and knee folds, the groin, and around the ears and hairline are all common places ticks will prefer. Remember, they like warm, dark, and damp! Keep in mind our pets who sleep with us may be dragging in ticks as well; check your pets regularly!
If you do find yourself with a tick embedded, there are two excellent techniques for removing the entire tick intact (this is important to reduce risk of disease transmission). Use a tick removal tool (the “Tick Twister” and “Tick Tornado” are two examples) which allows you to grasp the tick’s body and twist it out of the skin in a counter-clockwise motion. You can also use a warm soapy cloth to rub gently in a counter-clockwise motion until the tick is out, but this is only if you don’t have the tool on hand. Keep the tick in a sealed plastic bag to send it out for testing (CAES, https://portal.ct.gov/CAES/Tick-Office/Tick-Office/Information-on-Submitting-Ticks), wash the bite site with soapy water, apply antiseptic (Andrographis tincture and Bacitracin are two examples), and contact your PCP as a round of doxycycline is typically protocol and Dr. Kat certainly advises antibiotics in this case. Contact our office to set up consult so we can make sure you are being taken care of Naturopathically, as well.
Spraying your yard can be a great way to prevent tick-borne diseases. Be sure to choose natural options that do not harm other life or then environment! Two great options for companies who use organic essential oils that are safe for kids, pets, bees and well water: Dr. Kat uses Tick Ranger (860) 956-3376, who uses Cedar oil which dries out any ticks trying to walk through your lawn, and Jen uses the Lawn Doctor (860) 266-1755, who uses an essential oil blend. Let them know we referred you when you call and we all receive discounts for our next application! (Kaitlyn Staal at Tick Ranger, Jen Shaw at Lawn Doctor; THANKS, and ENJOY!) A few things to note if you decide to contact them for information: Request specifically the essential oil ONLY blend; they may have other options and its in your best interest to chose what is right for your family. When you have committed to a service be very clear about how your contract is agreed upon, to avoid any surprises.
Letting fallen leaves stay on the lawn is very healthy for the wildlife and soil ecology, so it is a good idea to keep them around through winter into early spring. However, ticks love to hide in leaf piles, so spring clean up should definitely include getting rid of dead leaves anywhere close to where people and pets are exposed. It is important to remember that ticks will travel to search for their next host, so even leaf piles at the perimeter of your yard may be a risk factor.
Ticks also like long grass and overgrown areas, so keeping your lawn 2-4 inches in growth is a good strategy for avoiding tick habitats.
Finally, you’ll be more likely to find ticks in moist, dark areas, so keep patios clear of clutter and find dry, sunny places to set up your backyard furniture and playgrounds.
Cedarwood repels ticks and many experts suggest maintaining a hefty border of mulch (any mulch, but especially cedar) around the house and borders of your property. We’re talking 3-6 feet wide and 2 inches thick, because ticks will not crawl over this type of boundary. Keep in mind that they can cross over by hitching a ride on critters, however.
There are several plants thought to repel ticks, including lavender, garlic, pennyroyal, pyrethrum crysanthemum, sage, beautyberry, and eucalyptus.
Stay Safe, get out there and soak in, connect with, and be grateful for the Healing Nature which surrounds us.
Love & Light,
Dr. Kat and Jen Shaw