How to keep mosquitoes away

August 8, 2007

I wrote a letter to Mind Your Body about taking umeboshi to keep mosquitoes away. It got published today as The yin and yang of fighting mosquitoes.


Your August 1 edition of Mind Your Body carried an interesting discussion, Can garlic keep mozzies away? The answer given was ‘No’ but the article contained a vital piece of information – that drinking alcohol attracts mosquitoes!

As a student of macrobiotics, who looks at food and phenomena in terms of yin and yang, or ‘expanding’ and ‘contracting’ energy, I have always known this to be true. I did not realise that it had actually been confirmed by scientific research.

From the macrobiotic perspective, alcohol is yin or ‘expanding’. Having alcohol in the blood thus attracts mosquitoes, which are compact – that is, contracted or yang – creatures. Other yin foods like sugar, carbonated drinks, most food chemicals and excessive amounts of fruits will, according to macrobiotic principles, likewise attract mosquitoes.

The way to keep mosquitoes away is thus not garlic, but foods with qualities opposite to that of alcohol and sweets.

This would be salt, which is very yang or ‘contracting’. In particular, macrobiotics recommends umeboshi, a salt-pickled sour plum similar to what the Chinese call sng buay. But it has to be natural, organic quality. Umeboshi containing chemical food colouring may not work.

One of my macrobiotic teachers related how, when he was in Africa, the ceiling of his room would be covered black with mosquitoes if he opened the windows. Since he disliked sleeping with air-conditioning, he slept with the windows open and with an umeboshi in his mouth – and was not at all bitten by mosquitoes.

While I have not experienced this personally, I have ever observed locals in Indonesia with swamps of mosquitoes buzzing over the heads and yet they never seem to be bitten or bothered. Is it something in their diet?

Right now, this is regarded as unscientific. But until some scientist bothers to conduct appropriate research, it will forever remain in the realm of ‘non-science’.

If a scientist is open-minded enough to further investigate this claim, he or she could well hit upon an important scientific discovery – and help save lives, avoid suffering, reduce the cost of medical care and reduce the need to constantly fog the environment with toxic insecticides.


  1. Hi where can one buy organic umeboshi in Singapore? Japanese produce shops? Thanks!

  2. Great information. I have never thought the garlic trick would work. I must say it will probably be a while before someone does the proper research.

  3. Repelling mosquitoes is not a useful way to deal with mosquito infestation. The latest technology involves trapping mosquitoes by applying mosquito attractants. Trapped mosquitoes are killed, thus reducing the population and breeding cycles, as only female blood seeking mosquitoes are trapped.

    The state of art mosquito attractants are now available from the University of Regensburg in Germany and University Malaya of Malaysia.

  4. Thank you for great information! Now I understand why some people attract mosquitoes more than others.

  5. How interesting.
    In the UK we are advised to eat Marmite or a similar product like Vegemite which is made from yeast extract and full of salt before traveling to mosquito regions.
    I try to do it but cannot state one way or the other whether it works as at night I wear long pants and slap repellent on the bare bits.


  6. I have been eating Vegemite for only 1 month. I did not know anything about it keeping them away. Last Sunday I was siting in my back yard reading. after about 1 and 1/2 hrs realized I had not been bitten.Do not get me wrong we have mosquitos present every time we go out doors during their season. No repellant had been applied before I went out doors…Went inside an looked up vitamins B..THATS THE WAY I FOUND VEGEMITE REPELLS MOSUITOS

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