Lately the medical community has begun to reconsider standard medical treatments for scabies. It seems that scabies mites are becoming immune to these commonly used treatments.
One reason why this is so is that drugs are used improperly – as when people use a 1% solution of permethrin when a 5% dose is needed. The mites that survive the treatment are stronger than before and thus become resistant to higher doses.
Whatever the cause, scabies mites do seem to be becoming resistant to the common drugs used to treat them. That means that alternative methods must be developed to eliminate scabies.
While no one finds super bugs a cause to celebrate, the fact that people are turning to other methods for treating scabies is a positive development. Since natural remedies are safer and gentler, they are a preferred treatment option compared to toxic drugs commonly used to treat scabies. Here are some effective natural methods and information on how they can be used.
Sulfur ointment has been used for centuries as a treatment for scabies. A 5% to 10% ointment of sulfur mixed with petroleum jelly or cold cream is effective at eliminating scabies when applied for three consecutive nights and washed off 24 hours after the last treatment.
Tea Tree Oil – Melaleuca Oil
Long appreciated for its antibacterial and antiseptic properties, tea tree oil is also helpful for killing scabies mites. The Menzies School of Public Health in Darwin, Australia has effectively used tea tree oil to treat scabies in Aboriginals found in remote areas where up to half of the population has chronic scabies infestation.
Applying tea tree oil to the skin soothes the itch of a scabies reaction while killing mites. Hence, this approach is a much better option than chemical treatments that prolong the itching.
When using tea tree oil to treat scabies, draw a warm bath and add 10 to 20 drops of tea tree oil to the water. Soak all infected areas, taking care to avoid contact with eyes or mouth. Rinse and dry thoroughly.
Pure tea tree oil may be applied directly to affected areas with a cotton ball. Repeat this procedure once or twice a day for 2 to 3 weeks or until rash and discomfort disappear. Tea tree oil is especially helpful in treating sores on the face and scalp since it is much gentler than pharmaceutical methods of treatment that warn patients against facial use.
Patients may continue to use 5 to 10 drops of tea tree oil in a bath to prevent scabies outbreaks in the future.
Aloe vera is one of the most highly touted natural remedies around. The gel-like fluid housed inside Aloe vera fronds speeds healing of all sorts of skin ailments from acne to burns.
Soothing to the skin, it is vitamin rich and one of the few plant sources of vitamin B-12. Aloe v. is used to treat skin conditions such as eczema, psoriasis and poison ivy, so it is a natural choice to help clear sores brought about by scabies.
Aloe v. will not kill scabies mites but does ease some symptoms. It is best combined with an anti-parasitic remedy such as tea tree oil or balsam of Peru.
Zinc oxide is commonly found as an ingredient in sunscreens. It is helpful at blocking out harmful ultraviolet rays of the sun. It is also protective of the skin in other ways. It can help clear up rashes and thus is useful in combination with other remedies for healing scabies.
Vitamin E is vital to the metabolism of cells and is thought to prevent free radicals in the body from causing damage to cells, which can in turn cause cancer and other ailments.
Creams and lotions containing vitamin E are the best choices for those with scabies. Using a cream with vitamin E can reduce itching and promote healing. Such creams are easy to find in most drug stores, or you can break open a gel cap of vitamin E and rub the gel on affected areas. Again, vitamin E alone will not eliminate scabies but it can be helpful to reduce redness and itchiness associated with the ailment.
Balsam of Peru
Balsam of Peru, also sometimes seen as Peru Balsam, is an essential oil collected from trees found in El Salvador (it is processed in Peru, hence the name).
The oil has been used to treat eczema and arthritis. It can kill scabies because of its anti-parasitic properties. An amount of 10 to 30 drops should be given daily in a syrup solution (castor oil is a good choice) with an egg yolk added.
When used as a topical treatment, goldenseal can help fight infection. This is especially helpful when treating scabies because patients routinely contract infections when scratching itchy sores. However, it will not kill mites.
Goldenseal creams are commercially available. Some also include calendula, also known as marigold, which is thought to help heal skin and reduce scarring.
Goldenseal tea, especially in combination with Echinacea (another herbal remedy commonly used to boost the immune system) can also be helpful.
Indigenous to Southeast Asia and Polynesia, the tamanu tree is known by many different names including ati, kamani and foraha. The tree produces a nut that, when cracked and dried, allows tamanu oil to develop.
The oil is pressed before bottling. It is beneficial for all sorts of skin ailments, including healing of wounds and scars. The oil can be applied pure or in a mixture with olive oil (which is also great for the skin) as needed. It is for external use only.
Where would the world be without garlic? It is a versatile plant with both culinary and medicinal applications. Its uses have been studied and documented since the ancient Egyptians and Greeks.
Among the many properties of this wonder drug are its ability to lower blood pressure and cholesterol. Known as a strong anti-fungal and anti-parasitic herb, garlic’s properties lends itself as treatment for scabies.
Taken internally, garlic will help kill scabies mites. Those afflicted with scabies can also pound a clove of garlic to extract the oil, which can be used alone or with olive oil, to rub on sores.
Black Walnut and Wormwood
Black walnut and wormwood are two herbal remedies that help the body fight parasitic infections. They are often found together in prepared tinctures and remedies for parasitic infections. Black walnut hulls have long been used as a treatment for worms. They are full of iodine and tannins, which are antiseptic. They can help cleanse the blood and can be used to treat a variety of skin problems.
Wormwood is so named because it is a powerful defense against parasitic worms. It is also a general tonic and aids in proper digestion, so it is beneficial in a variety of ways when taken to treat scabies.
Additional Helpful Herbs
Here are other herbal supplements that can be used to clear up scabies and associated itching and bumps.
Gingko biloba is said to be helpful as an anti-oxidant and can be used as a cream to soothe scabies sores. Those on blood thinners should not use it.
Kelp can be useful in restoring needed balance to a patient’s mineral intake when recovering from an outbreak of scabies.
Vitamin A is needed by the body to heal and reconstruct skin tissue once scabies sores have been eliminated.
Evening primrose oil, which provides an essential fatty acid, is considered helpful for all sorts of skin disorders. Take by pill, 1,000 milligrams 3 times daily, with food. Vitamin E helps slow the breakdown of the acid, so look for products combining primrose oil with E.
Sheep sorrel is an anti-parasitic found in anti-parasite tinctures with wormwood and black walnut.
Cloves are great for detoxifying the body and are one of the few natural remedies known to kill parasite eggs in the body.
The Mechanics of Sleep
How much do you know about sleep? If you’re like the vast majority of the population the chances are you know very little. You close your eyes at night and disappear into some fairytale land where anything is possible, and when you awake you are ready to attack “the real world.” Very few people consider the many functions of sleep and how much is actually happening while you are in dreamland.
Without getting into too much detail, let’s go over the fundamentals of sleep and some of its many functions.
Found in animals, plants, fungi and even bacteria, this hormone is produced in anticipation of the daily onset of darkness. (1) Animals synthesize this hormone in their cells from the amino acid tryptophan. (2) Melatonin is directly involved in the function of the circadian rhythms which include sleep timing, blood pressure regulation, seasonal reproduction and many others. It is no stretch to say that it is a supremely important hormone.
Another surprising function of melatonin is that it acts as a powerful antioxidant that helps the body remove free-radicals. It has been shown to protect against oxidative stress in various, highly divergent experimental systems.(3) This mechanism is essential in our modern society that has become heavily polluted with contaminants that the body needs to readily remove.
So what do we know? Melatonin is VERY important in many different systems in your body, but particularly important when it comes to sleep (which is the reason we are here, right?). I want you keep that in mind as we move forward here. You may start to notice patterns in your life that could be causing a disruption in your melatonin production which will affect your sleep.
An average sleep cycle takes between 90 and 110 minutes. In this time you drift through stages 1, 2, 3, 4 and finally into REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. The stages of sleep get heavier as they progress, with stage 3 and 4 producing almost exclusively delta brain waves. It is much harder to wake someone when they are in these stages (called deep sleep), and when they do awaken they generally feel discombobulated or groggy. Children can experience bedwetting, sleepwalking or night terrors during this deep sleep.
Your cycles are a very important aspect of your sleep quality. Too much time in one area or not enough in another can lead you into a state of mild sleep deprivation. While you may only be dealing with a mild case, this will still have long reaching effects on many aspects of your life. The Paleolithic approach to sleep maintains that these cycles are important to your overall performance and we should be doing as much as possible to positively influence them.
When we get into REM sleep our breathing becomes more rapid, our eyes move quickly in various directions and we become temporarily paralyzed. Our heart rate increases, blood pressure rises and this is the time when bizarre dreams may occur.
REM sleep has been shown to stimulate the areas of the brain that are used in learning. This would mean it is extremely important for children to be getting high quality sleep in which they are exposed to as much REM as needed for optimal brain function.
Without enough REM sleep you will function poorly in your waking life. There is a GIANT list of possible functions of REM sleep that we just don’t have time to dive into. I think the take-home here is that allowing yourself to get solid REM sleep is essential for performing at a high level. We will find out later what may be stopping you from getting into this important phase of your sleep. (4)
CIRCADIAN RHYTHMS (CR)
About one-third of our 24 hour cycle is spent sleeping, and our sleep patterns are directly tied in with our circadian rhythms. This internal system regulates the timing of periods of sleepiness and wakefulness during the day. Everyone is a bit different, but generally the strongest sleep drive occurs between 2:00- 4:00am and 1:00-3:00pm. This urge to sleep becomes much more intense when our body has determined that we are sleep deprived. This explains that mid-afternoon struggle that many people face. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx
What’s wrong with Modern Sleep?
Modern sleep has become a train wreck for some. Living in this age of advanced communication and artificial light sources has made many people struggle with their sleep. In a recent poll published by The National Sleep Foundation, 23% of respondents said they either never get a good night’s sleep, rarely or a few nights a month! 35% said they get a good night’s sleep a few nights a week. (1) These numbers tell us that there are a huge number of people out there who desperately need some help in getting their eyes closed at night.
I personally have a hard time with this one. In our busy lives it’s almost impossible to get your lights off at a reasonable time. I began to make a more concerted effort at doing this when I found out that exposure to room light before bedtime actually suppressed melatonin which also lead to a later melatonin onset in 99% of individuals!
Do you remember what we just learned about melatonin and how important it is? Could you even have imagined that the lights in your house could be causing your body to halt the production of melatonin? I would have never known. Only when I began to read into the importance of melatonin did I start to understand some of the things that were keeping me up at night.
So what can you do about this? Well, for one, getting dimmer switches and lowering the light levels in your home as it gets later is an excellent idea. This is especially true for the bedroom. If you are going to read a book or something before you go to bed then you should consider some other light source alternatives.
Red light bulbs are lacking in the blue light that is at the root of the melatonin suppression. I won’t dive in too deep here but blue light wavelengths are the disrupting ones while the red-light wavelengths don’t seem to have the same impact. Replacing your reading lamp with a red light bulb will help your body with melatonin production.
I used to spend 2-3 hours (maybe more) staring at the ceiling because I couldn’t fall asleep. What a giant waste of time. Could Facebook™ and Instagram™ be the cause? Let’s break down what is actually happening.
1. You’re scrolling through an ENORMOUS amount of information in a very short period of time. Only a fraction of it are you actually reading, but your subconscious is working triple-time in order to sort through the overload of data. Who ate what? Where did this person go? New haircut. My dog is so cute. My sister graduated. There is literally an endless amount of (useless) information that it being absorbed by your subconscious.
2. You are blasting yourself with melatonin disrupting blue-light. That screen is emitting light, right? Remember the section above about how your body seems to be aware of the presence of light and will stop/slow down melatonin production. Blue-light emitting devices are not your friend when you want to get a good night’s rest.
It took me a long time to connect these dots. The funny part is that I had read (in multiple places) that using your phone before (or in) bed could stop you from falling asleep. It was only after I stopped using it right before bed did I realize how true it was. Now I make it a point to not use my phone in bed (or 20-30 minutes before). The research says if can affect you for an hour or two, but I’ve found that 30 minutes is more than enough to allow me to fall asleep right away.
There are a lot of people out there who can’t fall asleep without the television on. I should know, I used to be one of them. My nighttime ritual would be to set the sleep timer for 30-45 minutes and attempt to fall asleep before the TV turned off.
Sleep debt? Has anyone heard of that before? It kind of sounds like credit card debt, and no one likes that. I think everyone out there reading this would prefer to have a sleep SURPLUS right? Cutting out some television will do absolute wonders for your life. The benefits will extend far beyond your sleep patterns and spread into areas of your life you never thought possible.
What you put into your body can absolutely affect your sleep. However, there is this wonderful idea out there called “bio-individuality” that makes addressing this issue somewhat difficult. Bio-individuality basically says that everyone is different. For example, the way my body processes and reacts to certain things (food, stimulants, etc) could very well be different than the way other people do, which is part of what makes us individuals. It is difficult to tell you what to eat and what not to eat because of this, so let’s just go over the basics that apply to most people.
Caffeine should be an obvious culprit for most people. Personally, if I drink coffee after around 3:00pm I won’t be able to sleep. Of course there are people out there who can have an espresso with dinner and still somehow go to sleep that night, but for most of us it is going to be best to avoid caffeine.
This next bit may hit a few people where it hurts, in their love for spicy food.There has been a lot of talk around this, but the basic premise is that spicy food can disrupt your thermal-regulation and cause your body to “glitch” when trying to get into a solid sleep cycle. If you are having a hard time getting to sleep AND are currently eating a lot of spicy foods then it might be a good idea to cut down on them and see what happens.
I think it’s important to understand that when it’s suggested that you “exercise” to sleep better that doesn’t necessarily mean that you need to go sign up for Cross-Fit and workout until you puke. While that’s great and all, that isn’t necessary for those who don’t wish to go that route.
You don’t need to run until you feel like your heart is going to explode. Moderate intensity exercise shows improvement, so if you aren’t big into exercise then just know you can do some simple exercises that will help you get to sleep. Push-ups, sit-ups, body weight squats, brisk walking/jogging, etc. All these things require you to exert energy which will in turn give you a better chance of falling asleep that night.
As you can see, modern sleep has become a bit more challenging due to the direction our society has taken. Everything is faster paced, the days have become longer due to artificial light, your phone/television/computer has infected your bedroom (BED-room) and that hot sauce may be keeping you from falling asleep and staying in a deep sleep. The biggest factors that helped me personally start getting solid sleep was to limit my technology use prior to bed and to stay away from caffeine after my morning cup of coffee.
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