Joanne Smith and Kylie JamesSummer is great, just not the mosquitoes that come with it. And if you have limited movement and dexterity, swatting those annoying blood suckers away can be a long lasting pain … or itch.

Mosquitoes find their warm-blooded victims by smell. Their sensory organs lead them to chemicals such as carbon dioxide and lactic acid that we exhale. While the most popular and effective bug repellent is DEET (which masks the chemical signals that mosquitoes use to find their food sources), it is toxic to fish and birds, and can cause skin irritation in humans. In Canada, where I live and mosquitoes roam large in the summer, our government recommends limiting DEET concentrations to no more than 30 percent. So if you’re looking for a more environmentally friendly and safer way to protect yourself from mosquitoes, eat garlic — and lots of it! This herb contains powerful compounds, such as allicin — which is released in our breath — and sulfur that is emitted through our skin. Together these two natural elements can help repel these irritating mosquitoes.

Several days before you take a trip into mosquito-filled territory, start eating one or two cloves of garlic a day. Also, this simple, easy to prepare garlic recipe I’ve included can be used as a chicken marinade or salad and quinoa dressing.  Not only will this savory sauce keep mosquitoes at bay, but you’ll also get the added benefits of garlic’s potent medicinal properties, such as supporting cardiovascular and immune function, reducing blood pressure, lowering cholesterol and enhancing liver detoxification.

If you are not a fan of the taste of garlic, but still looking for a healthier option to DEET, try making your own repellent spray. Yes, you may end up smelling like a pizza parlor, but better that than being a buffet for mosquitoes!

Joanne Smith and Kylie James are co-authors of the book Eat Well Live Well with SCI and Other Neurological Conditions. For more information on nutrition for neurological injuries, go to