With spring comes soft rain, daffodils, and a renewed outlook on life. Unfortunately, for some it brings the fear and intimidation of poison ivy. But with a few natural remedies for Poison Ivy, you don’t need to feel sentenced to the indoors while all your friends enjoy the community barbeque.
The constituent in poison ivy that irritates the skin is urushiol. When coming into contact with this essential oil, a person’s skin breaks out in an itchy, painful, blistering rash. Although an estimated 350,000 Americans suffer from the effects of this invasive plant each year, I’ve never experienced an outbreak of poison ivy. In fact, because I could not get anyone to volunteer to test a home remedy I once made, I attempted to test it myself. I took a poison ivy leaf and rubbed it along the inside of my forearm. I never got a reaction. However, this aggressive plant makes my sons miserable every summer. So I know what works.
Our first line of defense each spring is the tiny Poison Ivy Pill. Manufactured by Washington Homeopathic Products, Inc., this little pill works wonders at keeping a poison ivy rash at bay. Following the homeopathic principle that “like cures like,” this formula will prevent an outbreak when taken as a preventative before exposure. If taken after exposure, it will shorten the duration of the outbreak. Introduced in 1816 by German physician Samuel Hahnemann, Rhus toxicodendren relieves about 85% of those suffering from not only poison ivy, but poison oak and sumac reactions as well. We purchase Poison Ivy Pills from our local pharmacy.
Jewelweed (Impatiens capensis)
Generally found growing in the vicinity of poison ivy, this wildflower is also known by the names of Spotted Jewelweed and Spotted Touch-Me-Not . Here’s how it works. The chemical urushiol binds to skin cells and triggers a rash. However, the chemical lawsone, found in jewelweed, binds to the same molecular sites on the skin. So, if you apply the juice from the jewelweed quick enough (or before exposure) the lawsone will bind to the skin cells faster than the urushiol and prevent it from doing its damage. To get the most concentration from the jewelweed plant, crush the little red knobs near the ground level of the stems and apply this juice to your skin. If you cannot do this before being exposed, do it as soon after as possible.
After being exposed to poison ivy our guys immediately wash their skin with rubbing alcohol, drop their clothing into the washer, and take a hot shower with lots of soap. The rubbing alcohol cuts the plant oils, making it easier to wash away.
With little children, you may never know of poison ivy exposure until it’s too late. That is when we use Ivarest. This ointment contains an antihistamine that stops the reaction and an analgesic that soothes the itch and pain. It also has a skin protectant that dries up the blisters, thus speeding healing.
What’s been your experience with poison ivy? If you have any other remedies, we’d love to hear about them in the comments.
The Green Pharmacy by James A. Duke, Ph.D., Rodale Press, 1997
Photo by mullica