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July 18, 2009

Jewelweed: The Ultimate Weapon Against Poison Ivy

I love it when the readers get involved and discuss a post. These posts about poison ivy have gotten a lot of attention. This is the 3rd and final post about poison ivy and it deals with the jewelweed plant. Wendy and Tim C both mentioned the healing properties of jewelweed in the comments.

The last of the article written by Randal Jones in Wilderness Way Magazine titled Poison Ivy: Protecting and Healing yourself Naturally details how to use jewelweed to combat poison ivy. An excerpt from the article is below:

If you do not want to ingest poison ivy, there are certain plants you can use that will neutralize the affects of poison ivy. Jewelweed is one of these plants. Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis) grows in many parts of the United States and Canada. It prefers shady, damp areas. You usually can find it growing along creeks and riverbanks. Jewelweed is easy to identify. And, its habit of producing dense colonies makes it stand out like a “sore thumb.”

Any part of the jewelweed plant can be mashed up and applied on the skin to cure many types of dermatitis. This is more than confidently stated, as jewelweed has been scientifically proven to contain a highly potent antifungal agent. But, it should be remembered that the sooner it is applied to an affected area, the better. If you wait until the poison ivy blisters appear to apply jewelweed, the healing affect will be minimal.

A family friend had a rash on her ankle that would not go away. She said the doctors could do nothing for her. I told her how jewelweed cured my poison ivy and that it might heal her rash. She was willing to try anything at this point. I collected some jewelweed and told her to boil the weeds in water for twenty minutes, then take the extract and freeze it in ice cube trays. In this way, she had the fresh extract at her disposal. After a week of applying the extract twice a day, the rash disappeared.

Jewelweed has a very positive medicinal reputation and is also edible, but it is not for everyone. There are a small percentage of people whose body chemistry produces an adverse response to jewelweed. If this happens, the curative becomes part of the problem, and a mild case of a poison ivy might be accelerated into a full blown “blistering hell” with the application of jewelweed. So test your bodily reaction to jewelweed before applying it to any dermatitis.

Plantain (Plantago sap.) is a very common yard weed that is also an effective curative for a poison ivy rash. Its effectiveness is derived from two remarkable abilities. One is that the juice in its leaves and seeds shrink tissue; the other is that it neutralizes poisons. Unlike jewelweed, it is not native to the United States. But, a few different varieties of plantains have naturalized themselves to North America, which has made it more abundant and easier to find than jewelweed. This is another plant you can throw into the salad and eat.

One of the best ways to externally apply plantain is to mash the fresh leaves into a small ball and use a wrapping to secure them to an itchy area or any insect bites or sting. You will find that it takes the itch or the string out almost immediately. The longer the plantain compress is left on poison ivy irritation, the better the long-term results. Bug bites and stings are healed more readily. So unless you are allergic to the venom of your insect attacker, the compress can be removed once the pain or itch subsides. It is amazing that such a powerful healing plant is so close to our fingertips.

For some people, jewelweed is a more effective curative for poison ivy, and in others, plantain. Most people do not know which plant will do a better job for them. So it’s best to gather both types of plants and combine them together in a crushed up mixture. or preserve them in a tincture. This is accomplished by filling up any size container half way with at least 80% proof white whiskey, and then adding whole jewelweed and plantain plants to fill up the rest of the container. Shake up the mixture every couple of days until it is mixed well. This tincture will last indefinitely.