It was an idyllic setting — a weekend at the cottage in early June, before the boat-crazed, firework-loving revellers hit the lake and start noise-bombing our peaceful days. The man of the house (MOTH) and I had arrived late on Friday afternoon and were soon joined by our pals Susan and Ian. We planned to share nibbles and a bottle of wine (or two) on the upper deck, watching the sunlight fade and dusk drape the treeline in magnificent shadows while talking about anything and everything under the sun. That’s our idea of fun.
Just one thing stood between us and bliss — an army of mosquitoes, made big and bold by a cool, wet spring. Fortunately, I had a remedy at hand – Mozi-Q, a homeopathic chewable pill made from plant-based ingredients that are said to reduce the frequency and severity of bites from mosquitoes, head lice, ticks, blackflies and other insects.
I had tried them a few weeks before and found them effective, but I did wonder if it had been too soon for mosquitoes, or it was just a coincidence that I had not been bit. As I know Susan hates bites (she’s got very sensitive skin) I suggested she try Mozi-Q. She agreed, as did Ian (after checking that we could still enjoy our wine after taking them, natch.) MOTH, who is in fact rarely bothered by bugs, agreed to act as our control subject. (For the record, we did share the wine with him.)
Note to would-be users – avoid taking Mozi-Q after eating something with menthol. The pills are absorbed by the mucus membranes in the mouth and menthol can interfere with that. Pills should be taken about a half hour before venturing out, and are effective for up to three hours or so. A pack of 60 sells for about $25.
Our merry band was amazed by how little the bugs bugged us. I got one bite on my head, but that may have been because I ventured out before the half hour was up. I LOVED that I did not have to worry about repellent on my hands as I was preparing and passing around nibbles.
Susan got two bites, but we’re pretty sure one was actually a spider. Ian reported nothing. We used them again the next day with similar results. When my comrades left, I sent them home with a box to tide them over until they could pick some up for themselves.
Mozi-Q is the brainchild of Erin Bosch, who owns a homeopathic clinic in Calgary. She came across a formula that uses delphinium — known in ancient Greece as a vermin repellent — in an old text and began making it for her clients. The formula also includes rhodeodendrum, stinging nettle, rosewood and cedron (rattlesnake bane).
It was an immediate best-seller. This, despite the fact that many view homeopathy as kooky/hippie/shady. Bosch smiles at the characterization.
"People think it’s new and fan-dangled, but it’s not. Health Canada has been approving homeopathic medicines for 80 years. These products are all regulated by Health Canada. There are strict rules, for example, about where and how the plants are grown.”
Bosch shakes her head at lingering concerns. “You can patent a human gene and you can splice a tomato with a fish. Why would there be a problem with taking a natural substance rather than slathering your body in a chemical spray?”
The length of effectiveness depends on the individual user. Some folks can take it just once a day, while others might have to pop some every few hours. Bosch won’t guarantee that users will never get a bite, but she says most people report that the severity of bites is reduced, as is healing time.
Bosch hopes her formula will widen the number of Canadians being kept mosquito free. “I want to become the Kleenex of bug repellent,” say Bosch, who recently entered the Dragon’s Den. (I’ll update you in this space as news becomes available.)
But this determined and business-savvy young woman also understands the bigger picture.
“I joke that all Winnipeg loves me, but it wasn’t until recently that I realized that West Nile malaria is the number 1 killer of kids in the world. The implication of this could be global.”