The esteemed NYTimes has an article assuring us that the University of Conneticut did a study that proved eating garlic does not prevent one from getting bitten by mosquitoes.

Well, dang it.

And what is worse is that the article mentions that if you drink beer, you’ll get even more bites than normal.

In a 2002 study in The Journal of the American Mosquito Control Association, a group of 14 subjects drank 350 milliliters of beer on various occasions. Ingesting beer significantly increased the percentage of mosquitoes that landed on the subjects, though precisely why was unclear.

Umm…maybe they like being drunk?

Now, both Garlic and Vitamin B complex has been used in the past to stop insect bites.

Indeed, many unofficial sites say to feed your dog garlic daily during mosquito season to their coats to stop fleas and ticks.  We feed it to our dogs but it doesn’t seem to do much, maybe because the dose is too low. Does this work in humans? The scientific data suggests it does… but not much.

In other words, if you are working the oil pumps in Oklahoma during Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever season, stick with the DEET.

Here, the main danger is Dengue, and those type of mosquitoes bite during the day. But in the US, the main danger is West Nile Virus, and so it makes sense to try to protect your loved ones by not only DEET but clothing, keeping your ditches drained, and checking if it’s in your area.

One of the trivia questions about mosquito/tick prevention is if high dose vitamin B works as some claim.

Well, scientific studies didn’t show giving B complex helped, but there is an urban legend that feeding people Marmite stops mosquito bites.

  • The root of this belief might have been its use during the 1934-5 Malaria Epidemic in Sri Lanka:
“ The two things given to each patient were a bottle of the standard quinine mixture and Marmite rolled into the form of vederala’s pills. The latter was said to have been the idea of the late Dr. Mary Ratnam and to have been more effective than the quinine itself, such was the degree of starvation among the peasantry. The Suriya Mal workers were amazed to see how this little Marmite revived them and put some life back into them. ”
—George Jan Lerski, [1]

For those of you who don’t know about Marmite, a sticky black substance used and loved in the UK (or the Aussie equivalent Vegemite)…all I can say is that you’re lucky.

Marmite: Don’t leave home without it

Umm…I think I’ll stick to long sleeves and DEET.


Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the Philippines. Her website is Finest Kind Clinic and Fishmarket. 

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