Repelling bugs without DEET

People's Pharmacy

August 02, 1998|By Joe Graedon and Teresa Graedon | Joe Graedon and Teresa Graedon,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

Q. You recently gave a recipe for a non-DEET mosquito repellent. It isn't necessary to mix up that witches' brew of Avon Skin-So-Soft and vinegar.

Avon is capitalizing on its unofficial reputation for repelling bugs. You can now buy Skin-So-Soft Moisturizing Suncare Mosquito, Flea and Deer Tick Repellent. At least with this product you won't smell like a freshly dressed salad.

A.The mosquito repellent recommended by one reader of this nTC column calls for mixing 1 tablespoon citronella oil, 2 cups white vinegar, 1 cup water and 1 cup Avon Skin-So-Soft bath oil. The new Avon repellent is certainly easier and probably smells nicer.

Q.Someone suggested in your column an herbal remedy for managing stage fright. She was worried about the side effects of Xanax.

As a physician, I prescribe propranolol in small doses instead of Xanax for stage fright. Skullcap is an herbal remedy with potential for serious harm. One of my patients recently developed severe hepatitis related to her taking a skullcap mixture. As soon as she quit using this herbal remedy, her liver function began to return to normal.

A. Thanks for the alert. Just because an herb is "natural" doesn't mean it's safe. Other cases of liver problems have been associated with prolonged use of skullcap.

Valerian, the other herb mentioned by our reader for stage fright, was probably responsible for her mixture's calming properties and does not appear to be dangerous.

As you point out, propranolol and certain other beta-blocker drugs are sometimes used for stage fright, although they are more often prescribed for high blood pressure and heart problems.

Write to the Graedons in care of The Sun, 501 N. Calvert St., Baltimore, Md. 21278, or e-mail to

King Features Syndicate

Pub Date: 8/02/98

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