Natural Ways to Reduce Lyme Disease Risk


Lyme disease is caused by bites from deer ticks infected with the Lyme bacteria. The disease is especially common in the Northeast and Upper Midwest regions of the United States, and it can cause muscle pain, joint stiffness, fatigue, and a variety of other symptoms.

The disease can be treated with antibiotics, but the symptoms can be severe if left untreated for a long period of time. While DEET-containing bug sprays are effective for repelling ticks and other bugs, the chemical can cause a range of health issues when overused. If you want to avoid chemical repellents, you can use natural strategies to repel ticks and prevent Lyme disease. Here are eight of the best ways to reduce your risk of getting Lyme disease:


1. Poultry

Deer ticks love grassy and leafy wooded areas. If you have either of those environments near your home, you may be at an increased risk of contracting Lyme disease. Poultry, especially guinea fowl, will eat ticks and greatly reduce the tick population. They also can help you control other pests, including mosquitos and grasshoppers.

Although guinea fowl tend to be the most effective for controlling ticks, many people find that game hens and small bantam chickens can fit into smaller spaces, allowing for more thorough tick control. Ticks hide in leafy areas during the winter and early spring, so you can let your poultry feed in leaf litter around your home once the snow melts.

2. Wildlife

Poultry aren’t the only animals that can prevent Lyme disease. Ticks usually get the Lyme bacteria from deer and mice, but they’ll also feed on other mammals, birds, and reptiles. Newly-hatched tick larvae don’t carry Lyme disease, so if they only feed on animals that don’t carry the disease, they won’t become infected. If you have plenty of animals around your yard that don’t carry Lyme, ticks will feed off of them and won’t get the bacteria, and you’ll lower your risk of getting the disease.

3. Plant-Based Repellent

Commercial plant-based repellents are natural and chemical-free, and they can be very effective for repelling ticks and other bugs. Many are made with lemon eucalyptus oil, which is famous for repelling ticks and mosquitos. One study in Bolivia showed that eucalyptus-based repellents were even more effective than DEET.

If you don’t want to buy a commercial plant-based repellent, you can make your own with a few drops of lemon eucalyptus oil diluted in water, witch hazel, or coconut oil. Diluting in oil is a great option if you want the repellent to last even if you’re exposed to water. Mix the ingredients in a spray bottle, shake the bottle thoroughly, and apply it on your clothes and skin.

4. Citrus Repellent

You can make a natural citrus repellent to keep ticks away. Boil orange, lime, or lemon peels in water, and put the solution in a spray bottle after it cools. Spray yourself before going outside, especially if you’ll be in a grassy area with a high tick population, and reapply frequently. This natural repellent is safe, cheap, and easy to use.

5. Oil

Other essential oils can also be very effective in repelling ticks and lowering your risk of Lyme disease. Some of the best oils to use as a tick repellent include:

  • Rosemary
  • Lavender
  • Geranium
  • Cedar
  • Basil

You can use just one of these oils mixed with water or a carrier oil like olive oil or coconut oil. You can also combine two or three of the oils for maximum effectiveness. Like the lemon eucalyptus repellent, you can combine the ingredients in a spray bottle and spray your clothing and exposed skin before you go outside.

6. Garlic

Ticks hate the smell of garlic, so it’s a great natural method of preventing Lyme disease. Garlic is often given to dogs as a tick-repelling supplement, but it works just as well for humans. You can add extra garlic to your food before going outside, or you can take odorless garlic pills.

You can also create an external repellent by mincing several cloves of garlic and soaking it in mineral oil overnight. Then, you can fill a spray bottle to about three-quarters of its capacity with water and add one squirt of dish detergent. Mix in the garlic and oil, shake up the mixture, and spray your clothes and exposed skin.

7. Clothing Choices

If you know you’ll be walking around in an area with a high tick population, wear long pants to cover as much skin as possible. If you have to wear shorts, wear long socks to prevent ticks from attaching onto your legs. You can also tuck long pants into your socks, so ticks can’t crawl under your pant leg and onto your skin. You might look silly, but it’s better than getting Lyme disease. Light-colored clothing will help you spot ticks easily, and a hat can protect your head and hair.

As soon as you come inside, put your clothes in the dryer on high heat for about 10 minutes. This should kill any ticks that are hiding in the fabric.

8. Lint Rollers

If you frequently find ticks on your clothes or skin, keep a sticky lint roller in your car or bag. After being outside, you can quickly run the lint roller over your clothes to pick up any ticks you didn’t notice. You can also run a lint roller gently over your pets to remove ticks from their fur. If you don’t have a lint roller, sticky tape can also pick up ticks.

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