Date: Sat, 18 May 1996 15:30:07 +0200
From: Karen Raley <KRaley.GNN.COM>
Subject: List subjects; Poison Ivy/Jewelweed: How to
Now that summer is nearly upon us and outdoorsy activities increase, and leaves flourish, it is time for an upsurge in the incidence of Poison Ivy/Oak/Sumac problems. I would like to add my two bits on this.
POISON IVY ANTIDOTE--JEWELWEED
Jewelweed tincture made from fresh (best if blooming) whole jewelweed plants in standard rubbing alcohol really works. Tried and true. Splash on the jewelweed tinc as soon after exposure as possible to short-circuit the blistering effect. If you do this, you will have reduced or no blisters. It also works on already blistered skin, but is better as an antidote than as a treatment. Does not work if dried. You must tincture fresh. Fresh jewelweed is obviously more desirable than tincture on the exposed skin and often grows right next to the PI, but it isn't available year 'round. So, if you have a source of jewelweed, make tincture and keep it through the season. You can make it from anytime you start seeing the leaves, but it is best in full flower--June-Aug generally.
Jewelweed usually grows in profusion along sunny creek banks-look for where small dirt country roads pass over creeks next to woods or where woods and field meet next to streams. Or where wooded streambanks have dappled sunlight. Deer feed on jewelweed, so it is often found in areas with deer. Also look around you when you see poison ivy; sometimes there is jewelweed right there. Do not wipe out the whole colony of jewelweed when you are gathering it, of course.
To make tincture, fill a glass jar with jewelweed (smash it in there) and cover with rubbing alcohol. (rubbing alcohol is toxic if ingested. -Henriette) Leave in the dark for 2 weeks, pour out alcohol, throw jewelweed away. Store in the same bottles you bought the alcohol in--away from light preferably. I keep some of this in my car and give it away to people all the time. One woman took some in exchange for her goat cheese. She told me she was always getting it from her goats when she milked them. She reported happily that it worked for her--no more PI on her arms and hands. I am very sensitive and it works for me, too. I come in from mowing or woods-tramping, wash arms and legs, and splash on jewelweed tinc. It is dark green and and kinda stinky but it's worth it. It WILL stain cloth so be careful. If you are in the field and cannot wash, use the jewelweed anyway. It works better if you wash, but it still works if you don't. Remember to get it on as soon as you can after suspected exposure for best effect. (It will still work later, but it is better sooner.)
From: Peter Gail <PETERGAIL.AOL.COM>
Re: Karen Raley's post about jewelweed tincture: Be extremely careful in applying an alcohol extract of jewelweed on anybody. Over the past 8 years Steven Foster has reported one and I have observed 3 extremely severe skin reactions from such applications, in each case landing the person in hospital. Euell Gibbons also referred to the possiblity of allergic reactions to jewelweed tinctures. The only sure way to avoid such problems is to use an aqueous extract made by boiling the plants in water until the original water level is reduced by half, straining off the plant material and then using the brownish orange liquid, which can be frozen into ice cubes which we have found keep their potency for many years (we have used jewelweed ice cubes which were 6 years old for mosquito bites.)
From: Mary Jo Gilsdorf <viomist.CASTLE.NET>
Another way to keep jewelweed at the ready for the following spring is to take the flowering plant and grind it up with just enough water (I use a blender even!) and then put it into an ice cube tray and freeze it. Have had luck with this method and the iced jewelweed feels good to those itchy spots as you apply it too. Jewelweed also known as Touch-me-not. Grows commonly near streams and creeks and damp areas too. Found orange flowered varieties stronger than the yellow flowered ones.
From: "R.M.K." <iss.RCI.RIPCO.COM>
Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis) as a relief from Poison Ivy rash.
I first heard of using Jewelweed for poison ivy some years ago, and had varying amounts of success with it; but in the summer of 1988, I developed a SEVERE case of the rash on my feet & ankles, such that I couldn't even wear a pair of shoes; the area between my toes was especially bad, as this area never seemed to dry completely out, and the blisters would continually spread. Commercial preparations gave me fair relief at best... it was at this point I decided to try a different remedy. The following "recipe" is a slight modification of my original formula... but the results myself and others have had using this FAR exceed any drug-store concoction that I have EVER used... spreading of blisters was halted IMMEDIATELY after the first application, and all blisters were dried up within 3 days!
I have read about using jewelweed tea as a preventative, and using some of the juice in bathwater, especially after walking in areas where poison ivy had been seen... I have had no experience with this, but I'm sure it couldn't hurt.
Gather the entire plant, leaves, stems, and all; the plant is very succulent and juicy... I have never had a need to add extra water, but if you do, use distilled. Don't be greedy, either trim tops & outer branchs, or selectively take entire plants from the center of a crowded stand. One large (4-foot) plant should be adequate for the largest rash on one person. Plants will lose turgor and wilt quickly after cutting, this is OK, just makes it easier to emulsify.
Liquify the plants in a blender at the highest speed possible. Then extract the juice by filtering thru cloth, common strainer, or fruit press... a little pulp in the mix won't hurt, this will settle out after a couple hours, anyway. Use immediately, or refrigerate... this stuff spoils rapidly at room temperature..!!
Apply the juice to the infected area with a common paint brush... I've found 1 to 2" size works best. Blow-dry the area as you apply it with a hair dryer on low heat... after several coats of 'paint,' an orange-colored "skin" will develop. This "skin" will protect un-infected areas against the poison ivy allergen.
Repeat this procedure as needed, especially first thing in the morning, and before bedtime. Be sure to use common sense in keeping any fluid that happens to come from blisters away from unprotected areas... yourself AND others. Keeping the infected area as dry as possible will hasten the healing; continue application until no more blisters are present... usually about 3 days.
Ironically, jewelweed favors growing in areas of similiar habitat as poison ivy, therefore it can often be found nearby, prefering moist ground, near water, or often, even in shallow water. It grows rapidly in ideal infirons, but usually doesn't reach significant size until mid-summer; therefore, it might pay to keep a bit frozen in the fridge from the previous year for early-season use. The extract tends to spoil rapidly, even at cooler temperatures, so I wouldn't recommend keeping it for much more than a week without freezing... the fresh solution works best, anyway.
Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis; I. biflora) alias: spotted touch-me-not, silverweed, is truly an amazing plant... I would recommend anyone who has a damp-ish area to cultivate some. The plant produces both cleitogamous (self-fertilized), and chasmogamous (cross-fertilized) flowers. Mature seed pods will build tension as they dry, and can "shoot" seeds 5 feet away when activated by a slight disturbance. It is humorous to watch hummingbirds "trigger" the pods as they feed on the nectar in late summer.
Good Luck... Robert.
From: Karen Raley <KRaley.GNN.COM>
Many thankyous to all the people who wrote in re jewelweed, especially to Robert for his paint-on remedy for poison ivy blisters. This topic opened with a recipe for rubbing-alcohol based tincture of jewelweed used as an *antidote* for PI. Several people responded with non-alcoholic versions of jewelweed as a PI treatment, like the ice-cube method. For those who have not frozen herbal decoctions, etc. before, another thing to remember is to take the cubes out of the trays and put them in containers so they don't dehydrate before you get around to using them.
Two listmembers pointed out that some people have had negative reactions to the alcohol-based jewelweed tincture (whether used as an antidote or treatment was not clear). I was very surprised and somewhat alarmed to find out about this and would like to know more. Is this a rare reaction? Can one apply a bit of the tincture to one's skin somewhere to test it first? How long does it take after the test (or after liberal use) to get the reaction? Exactly what is the reaction and how does one remedy it? Would this reaction be found in other rubbing alcohol-based tinctures (witch hazel, eg)? Do we need to be testing other rubbing alcohol-based herbal tinctures for sensitivity before we use them? If so, which ones? Is there a difference between tinctures made with isopropyl and ethyl alcohol? (I do not use the latter.)
In response to the discussion on insect repellents, I felt moved to recommend another rubbing alcohol-based tincture I use, but now wonder if anyone has ever come down with a weird reaction to it. (Skin-So-Soft also irritates some people pretty badly.) Anyway, at the risk of giving bad advice, here is some more of my homemade approach--
I make rubbing alcohol-based tinctures of a wild, light green-flowered monarda that smells like cardamom, and of wormwood, and of southernwood. All of these I find to be *both* insect repelling and itch-reducing on my skin. This is especially true for the southernwood, which I also occasionally use for an underarm deodorant. None of these tinctures bothers my skin, which is very sensitive to poison ivy & oak, and somewhat senstitive to other plants like tomatoes, eg. I also spray alcohol-based tinctures of herbs on feathers to repel moths. (More privately if you wish.)
Someone asked about combining jewelweed with other ingredients. I have an acquaintance who makes a poison ivy remedy by purchasing prepared witch hazel/rubbing alcohol and adding j'weed, comfrey, & white oak to tincture. Then she adds aloe to the end product.
The benefit of rubbing alcohol-based tinctures over frozen ones, providing you can tolerate them of course, is that they are so portable. I keep some in the car, and take them along for camping/hiking trips, fishing, outdoor entertainment, family picnics, auctions, etc. They seem to keep forever, and biting insects and poison ivy are so plentiful in this part of the country that the southernwood and jewelweed really come in handy. (Southernwood is artemisia abrotanum and it smells like camphor.) Because friends and strangers at outdoor events often ask me to share my skin tinctures, I pass them around. I do not wish to cause harm or incur some liability because of this, so more info on the testing aspect and negative reactions would be very helpful.