Environment

Herbal repellents

The team at Herbal Strategi  

Everyone wants a clean, pest-free home. So we buy sprays, coils and gels to get rid of mosquitoes, cockroaches, bed bugs, and termites. However, we don’t once think how chemical-laden repellents affect our health. John Thomas, founder of Herbal Strategi, faced a grave illness to realise that chemical repellents, even though its effects may not be visible immediately, take a toll on our health over a period of time.

“In 2009, I had suffered from an upper respiratory tract infection. The doctors told me to stop using vaporisers,” says John. Determined to switch to eco-friendly and safe repellents, John searched online for alternatives but found nothing. John’s Masters degree in Aquaculture at the Punjab Agriculture University came in handy. “I asked my colleagues and they referred me to Central Institute for Medicinal and Aromatic Plants (CIMAP) in Lucknow. We went there and they gave us environment-friendly formulations that kept mosquitoes away for 10 to 12 hours to test. Since Kerala has 400 types of mosquitoes, we went there and tried the different formulations for one-and-a-half years. We then went to Kochi, Hyderabad and Bengaluru to find out if people were interested in herbal repellents. Thirty per cent said yes and out of that 30 per cent, 65 per cent were new mothers, with small kids and who wanted safe repellents.”

Further research revealed that there were players in the market for herbal care, though, John adds: “Most of the herbal companies were present in the personal care segment and health care segments . There were no herbal players in the home care segment.”

John returned to Bengaluru and applied for a license from Ayush. He then started manufacturing his products in July 2011 and then took them to sell in Kerala. He noticed that by December his products stopped working. “Customers were returning them. I realised that we had bought aromatic oils from local traders. Initially the aromatic oils they supplied were good but over time they gave low quality oils. In December 2011, we recalled all the products. We lost a lot of money. But we started working from scratch and purchased raw material from CSIR-IIIM. In 2013, we relaunched Justspray which is a home spray for mosquitoes in Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka. I gave my mobile number in all the advertisements, and we received feedback from customers on what kind of herbal products they wanted. From a single product launched in 2013,we now have 35 Herbal Home Care products in the Herbal Cleaners, Herbal Fresheners, Herbal Hygiene, Herbal Fogging solutions, Herbal Pet care and Herbal Insect repellent categories.”

These were developed from feedback received from customers who wanted these natural and herbal products at their homes.

One of their most popular products is the bed bug spray. People spend thousands to eliminate bed bugs, but this spray helps to get rid of them safely. “People don’t like to reveal that they have bed bugs because they will be perceived being dirty. So when we put the bed bug spray on the retail shelves, it was one of the most bought products. The herbal bedbug spray extracts the bedbugs from the crevices and also shrinks the eggs and does not allow the eggs to hatch. These were the two challenges normally faced in bed bug treatment which we were able to overcome. The bedroom can be used the same day while using our Bugspray against non-usage of bedroom for two weeks if chemicals are used.”

John adds that it takes one-and-a-half years to two years to bring out a product. “We create a synergy of 12 to 18 oils, mix them for four to five hours and then allow the mixture to mature for three to four days.”

There are even herbal sprays for the treatment of ticks, fleas and lice in dogs. “ A reputed pet doctor had requested we produce a herbal spray as chemical sprays reduces the life span of dogs by two to three years and they also develop resistance to ticks, fleas and lice in the short term. When we developed a product we had sent it to the Department of Medicine, Veterinary College in Hebbal to carry out efficacy test in various breeds of dogs. A paper was written on the findings and the herbal product was found to be extremely effective in repelling ticks, fleas and lice in dogs . So we launched kennel spray and Yespray (body sprays) for dogs.”

Asked what is different about his products from other herbal brands, John says: “Ninety per cent of the herbal products seen in the home care segment do not have an ayurveda license. Whereas we have a license from Ayush, we are PETA and ISO 9001 certified.” Herbal Strategi products are available in their showroom located at number 118/1, Narayana Enclave, 10th cross, Coconut Avenue Road, Malleswaram, on www.herbalstrategi.com, and on Amazon, in all organic and Ayurveda stores, and supermarkets.

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Printable version | Jan 26, 2022 2:56:20 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/energy-and-environment/herbal-repellents/article23493313.ece

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