My daughter started kindergarten this year and we have already received one phone call notifying me that her dear friend has contracted head lice, a full search done at their school on all the kids heads because of this incident, and a note from her gymnastics club that ukus (the hawaiian word for head lice) are back.

When I first received the call from my daugher’s friend that her daughter had lice my immediate thought was, “Dang, I don’t have a natural lice treatment on hand, not sure if I can buy one over the counter here and really don’t want to use dangerous chemicals on my daugher’s head if she gets lice too.”  My daughter did not contract lice this time around, however I have been on the search for ways to prevent and treat head lice naturally ever since.

Below Andrea Candee, master herbalist from NY, shares with us ways to keep our kids safe, naturally! Oh, and there is also a tip on what to feed your dog and cats so they stay flea free too! Thanks Andrea!!!

Natural Approaches to Treating and Preventing Head Lice

It is not at all uncommon for pre-school and young elementary-aged children to suffer from head lice.  Every fall I receive an onslaught of calls from distressed parents whose children suffer from this condition.  Typically, the shampoos most doctors prescribe have not been very effective; and, given the harsh chemicals that are being absorbed into the child’s scalp, many parents prefer to use a natural approach.

Chemicals used on the skin are absorbed into the bloodstream.  They penetrate right into the deep layers of the skin; from there, they can travel to various organs, glands and tissues of the body.  Once they have passed through the epidermis, they seep into the small capillaries in the dermis, and are carried throughout the body by the bloodstream.  They are also taken up by the lymph fluid that bathes every cell in the body.

A simple test you can carry out yourself shows just how effectively herbs can be absorbed by and transported around the body.  Rub the soles of your child’s feet with a clove of garlic.  A few hours later, you will be able to smell garlic on your child’s breath!

Preventing The Spread Of Head Lice

To help prevent the spread of head lice, obvious hygienic measures should be taught in advance of the first day of school.  Teach your child not to wear another child’s hat, not to lie on someone else’s blanket, not to swap barrettes, other hair accessories, etc.

Keeping A Dog Or Cat Flea-Free

The healthier your child is, the more resistant she will be to parasitic attacks; thus, her diet should be free of sugar, white flour and junk food to the fullest extent possible.  Forgive the comparison, but it is well known that dogs with the healthiest diets are more resistant to fleas.  (In fact, if you feed your dog and cat garlic, they will almost always be flea-free!)

A Natural Preventative From Lice: Rosemary Tea

If you are aware of a head lice epidemic, you can spray your child’s head with a preventative, anti-parasitic treatment of rosemary tea each morning before she goes off to school.


  • Simmer 4 teaspoons rosemary (Rosmarinus off.) in 3 cups water for 15 minutes.
  • Turn off the heat, cover, and let sit until cool.
  • Strain and pour into a spray bottle.  This infusion can be kept in the refrigerator for 3 days.

What Lice and Lice Eggs Look Like

If, despite your best preventative efforts, your child has an itchy head, check for gray lumps, which are lice.  If you see colorless dots along strands of the hair, these are nits, the lices’ eggs.

The combination of anti-microbial essential oils and olive oil help to interfere with the lice’s cellular metabolism, causing them to smother and die.

  • If you DO detect head lice or eggs, combine one teaspoon (one tablespoon for very long, thick or coarse hair) anise seed oil with 2 teaspoons (2 tablespoons for long, thick or coarse hair) olive oil, and rub into your child’s scalp and hair.
  • Remove lice and eggs by combing through the hair using a metal lice comb.  (Your pet’s flea comb will also work well.)
  • Repeat this process twice daily until your child is completely free of all infestation.
  • Tea tree oil (Melaleuca alternifolia) can be used as a comb-through in place of the anise seed/olive oil combination.  Add 15 drops tea tree oil to a cup of water.  Rub into your child’s scalp and hair, then comb through, as above, making sure to remove as much matter as possible.

Overnight Lice Treatment

The following combination of anti-parasitic essential oils can be used as a natural, non toxic, essential oil overnight treatment to kill off the lice.

  • 2 teaspoons tea tree (Melaleuca alternifolia)
  • 2 teaspoons eucalyptus (Eucalyptus globulus)
  • 1/2 teaspoon rosemary (Rosmarinus off.)
  • 1/2 teaspoon lavender (Lavandula off.)
  • Combine essential oils with 1/2 cup olive oil and apply generously to hair and scalp.
  • Cover your child’s head with a shower cap and protect the bed linens with a towel.
  • Comb through in the morning.
  • Repeat this treatment nightly until all signs of lice and nits have disappeared.
  • Repeat twice weekly until the problem has subsided, and the lice “epidemic” is over in school.
  • After the oil comb-through, you can follow up with a shampoo made with tea tree oil, or add a few drops tea tree oil to her shampoo.  The oil of the Australian tea tree is an effective anti-parasitical treatment.
  • Give your child a dose of garlic 2-3 times a day (a fresh clove chopped into food or on toast spread with olive oil – most children love garlic bread), several drops oil of garlic in food or juice, or garlic tablets) for its anti-parasitic properties.
  • This would be a good time to put your child on a 10-day round of echinacea. Give her this herb 3 times a day to stimulate her immune system and help prevent infection in case one develops as a result of scratching.  (Swollen glands are a sign that infection has developed.)
  • Finally, be sure to wash your child’s clothes, linens, combs, and brushes in hot water with the addition of a little bit of Clorox or other bleach.

Finally, check with your child’s school.  There may be someone who specializes in lice removal.

© Andrea Candee

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Andrea Candee

Andrea Candee, MH, MSC, is a master herbalist with a practice in South Salem, NY. She lectures throughout the country and at corporate wellness centers about taking charge of your health naturally. Media expert and author, her award-winning book, Gentle Healing for Baby and Child (Simon & Schuster), received The National Parenting Center’s Seal of Approval.  Andrea is noted nationally for her unique and successful approach to Lyme Disease.  She may be contacted through her website, (to receive her free e-letter, click on Did You Know?), or at 877 856 7680.