Quantcast

Coconut Oil Repels Bloodsuckers Better Than DEET (Kinda)

Health + Wellness
A female Aedes aegypti mosquito resting after a blood meal. USDA-ARS

You can love it or hate it, but coconut oil certainly has many uses. Now, federal researchers have added one more function of the tropical favorite to the list.

Turns out, coconut oil fatty acids have strong repellency and long-lasting effectiveness against bloodsuckers and disease-carriers such as mosquitoes, ticks, biting flies and bed bugs, according to a new U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) study published in Scientific Reports.


In some cases, the all-natural compounds worked even better than DEET, the synthetic active ingredient used in many widely used repellent products.

It's important to note that "coconut oil itself is not a repellent," lead researcher and entomologist Junwei Zhu emphasized in a press release. Rather, it's the coconut oil-derived free fatty acid mixture—lauric acid, capric acid and caprylic acid as well as their corresponding methyl esters—that showed strong repellency against blood-sucking insects, the researchers found.

When the researchers encapsulated these coconut fatty acids into a starch-based formula, field trials showed it could protect cattle against stable flies for up to 96 hours or 4 days. To compare, DEET was only 50 percent effective against stable flies, while the coconut oil compound was more than 95 percent effective.

As for bed bugs and ticks, DEET lost its effectiveness after about three days, while the coconut oil compound lasted for about two weeks, the study showed.

Coconut oil fatty acids also provided more than 90 percent repellency against mosquitoes—including Aedes aegypti, the primary species responsible for spreading Zika, dengue, yellow fever and other diseases. The formula showed strong repellency against mosquitoes when higher concentrations of the compounds were topically applied.

The lab tests also determined that coconut oil compounds were effective against biting flies and bed bugs for two weeks and had lasting repellency against ticks for at least one week.

The press release noted: "Using repellents is one of the most efficient ways to prevent disease transmission and discomfort associated with insect bites. For more than 60 years, DEET has been considered the gold standard in insect repellents—the most effective and long-lasting available commercially. However, increasing regulations and growing public health concerns about synthetic repellents and insecticides like DEET have sparked interest in developing plant-based repellents that are more effective and longer lasting."

Some people refuse to use DEET and turn to folk remedies or plant-based repellents. Most currently available plant-based repellents work for only a short period, Zhu noted.

These coconut oil-derived compounds offer longer-lasting protection than any other known natural repellent against insect blood-feeding, according to Zhu.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

Pexels

By Dan Nosowitz

It's no secret that the past few years have been disastrous for the American farming industry.

Read More Show Less
Pexels

By Gavin Van De Walle, MS, RD

Medium-chain triglyceride (MCT) oil and coconut oil are fats that have risen in popularity alongside the ketogenic, or keto, diet.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Pexels

By Bijal Trivedi

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a report on Nov. 13 that describes a list of microorganisms that have become resistant to antibiotics and pose a serious threat to public health. Each year these so-called superbugs cause more than 2.8 million infections in the U.S. and kill more than 35,000 people.

Read More Show Less
Rool Paap / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

By Franziska Spritzler, RD, CDE

Inflammation can be good or bad depending on the situation.

Read More Show Less

By Joe Vukovich

Under the guise of responding to consumer complaints that today's energy- and water-efficient dishwashers take too long, the Department of Energy has proposed creating a new class of dishwashers that wouldn't be subject to any water or energy efficiency standards at all. The move would not only undermine three decades of progress for consumers and the environment, it is based on serious distortions of fact regarding today's dishwashers.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored

By Emily Moran

If you have oak trees in your neighborhood, perhaps you've noticed that some years the ground is carpeted with their acorns, and some years there are hardly any. Biologists call this pattern, in which all the oak trees for miles around make either lots of acorns or almost none, "masting."

Read More Show Less

By Catherine Davidson

Tashi Yudon peeks out from behind a net curtain at the rooftops below and lets out a sigh, her breath frosting on the windowpane in front of her.

Some 700 kilometers away in the capital city Delhi, temperatures have yet to dip below 25 degrees Celsius, but in Spiti there is already an atmosphere of impatient expectation as winter settles over the valley.

Read More Show Less

The Dog Aging Project at the University of Washington is looking to recruit 10,000 dogs to study for the next 10 years to see if they can improve the life expectancy of man's best friend and their quality of life, as CNN reported.

Read More Show Less