Dr. C’s Medicine Cabinet: Benefits Of “Nootkatone”

INSECTS are mainly pests. Except for the very commercially valuable Pollinators, Honeybees, the other useful insects, like ladybugs, dragonflies and spiders are beneficial because they eat other insects. It is very exciting, then, to hear about a pleasantly-smelling insect repellent that is quite harmless to Humans.

NOOTKATONE, after you get used to its ugly spelling, has an aromatic, Grapefruit-like smell. It was discovered while researching the CEDAR family. We all know of the association between Cedar and storage. One of my prized possessions was a Cedar chest for storing our families ski clothes.

Whenever I hear of a non-toxic chemical that repels and sometimes kills mosquitos, ticks, bedbugs and fleas, and yet is so harmless as to be used in perfumes, I like to hear of a proposed MECHANISM OF ACTION.

Nootkatone is thought to work by stimulating octopamine receptors, which insects use to make their muscles work. The muscles just keep on contracting and the insects die. The only problem is that Nootkatone is mainly a repellant, and a weaker insecticide.

Another good quality of Nootkatone is that the effect lasts several hours, in contrast to citronella and the other plant oils. Interestingly, the substance was isolated from grapefruit some 25 years ago, while looking for a repellant for the tick of Lyme disease.

Anaplasmosis and Rocky mountain spotted fever are 2 other tick-transmitted diseases present in America. Nootkatone is particularly effective against ticks, and is now EPA-approved.

–Dr. C.

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