Monday, February 21, 2022

Herbal Insect Repellents of Aetas in the Philippines

Being a tropical country, mosquitoes are ever present in the Philippines. Its an unavoidable reality for the people hence the great interest in insecticides and repellents. One study was conducted in 2011 where they interviewed the native Aetas of Porac, Pampanga about their knowledge in repelling insects that bite human skin. This was an important study to gain insights about the ethnobotanical knowledge of indigenous people, as Aetas are known to have excellent familiarity and experience in the use of native plants as part of their lives and culture.

54 plant species were identified and many are commonly known plants or trees. Here are a few of the list:

  • Acacia
  • Lemongrass
  • Neem
  • Gmelina
  • Sambong
  • Lagundi

While there's a general lack of local study to validate these herbs as insect repellants, indigenous use of these give us a starting point to consider seriously looking at their usefulness. Most likely, the repellent actions come from essential oils of these plants, but there are also other compounds that are released in the air when these plants are burned to create smoke, or when they're crushed as poultice and applied extracts to skin.

Inspired by the knowledge of the natives and their use of local plants in repelling insects, Burning Prism created Incense Sticks that produces fragrant smoke meant to clear spaces of unwanted vibes and insects. Using a blend of plant-based ingredients like rosins from Elemi and Manila Copal (these rosins are what's left after distillation of tree resins to extract essential oils of the Philippines), dried Neem leaves, dried Calamansi, dried Kakawate leaves, and some spices, the aromatic smoke it produces is easy on the nose.

Incense Sticks of the Philippines