Review of Plant-Based Insect Repellents

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Natural products for the control of malaria

Malar J. 2011 Mar 15;10 Suppl 1:S1
BioMed Central

XI. Plant-based insect repellents: a review of their efficacy, development and testing

Maia MF, Moore SJ
Malar J. 2011 Mar 15;10 Suppl 1:S11
PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3059459

Marta Ferreira Maia and Sarah J. Moore of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine and Ifakara Health Institute summarize recent information on testing, efficacy and safety of plant-based insect repellents.

From the abstract:

“Plant-based repellents have been used for generations in traditional practice as a personal protection measure against host-seeking mosquitoes. Knowledge on traditional repellent plants obtained through ethnobotanical studies is a valuable resource for the development of new natural products. Recently, commercial repellent products containing plant-based ingredients have gained increasing popularity among consumers, as these are commonly perceived as “safe” in comparison to long-established synthetic repellents although this is sometimes a misconception. To date insufficient studies have followed standard WHO Pesticide Evaluation Scheme guidelines for repellent testing. There is a need for further standardized studies in order to better evaluate repellent compounds and develop new products that offer high repellency as well as good consumer safety.”

Cymbopogon
Cymbopogon [Source: Wikimedia Commons, YosriNov04Pokok Serai]
Noting that most plants contain compounds that they use in preventing attack from plant-eating insects including mosquitoes, Ferreira Maia and Moore review several plant-based insect repellents including lemon eucalyptus (Corymbia citriodora) extract, Cymbopogon nardus, Cymbopogon winterianus, neem (Azadirachta indica), and essential oils distilled from members of the Lamiaceae, Poaceae and Pinaceae families.

The authors address some fallacies about plant-based repellents and propose considerations for testing methodologies.

They conclude with a review of promising recent developments in research on plant-based repellents.

Read the complete article at PubMed Central.

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