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Jewelweed: A Natural Home Remedy For Treating Poison Ivy

Posted by on Jul 5, 2012 in For Your Home, Skin & Hair Care | 11 comments

Homemade jewelweed spray. A natural remedy for poison ivy.When Kim and I were young we often played in the woods and that led to regular, minor poison ivy rashes and the occasional head to toe rash. We are experienced poison ivy suffers and we’ve tried a number of poison ivy remedies to help relieve the itch but I hadn’t heard of using jewelweed to treat poison ivy until I was visiting my brother a month ago.

At his local farmer’s market I saw someone selling a jewelweed spray as poison ivy treatment . I didn’t buy it because I already had poison ivy once this summer and naively thought I would be more careful and wouldn’t get it again this year. Of course, 10 days later I had it all over my forearm.

Luckily, out of curiosity, I had been researching jewelweed and I had a few ideas about how to make my own natural poison ivy remedy by turning the plant into an effective itch reliever.

Identifying The Jewelweed Plant

Making jewelweed salve is easy, the hardest part is identifying jewelweed for the first time.

Jewelweed grows in wet, shaded soil in the northeastern, southwestern and midwestern United States. It grows up to 4 feet tall and has a hollow stalk which is mostly green, with some red near the lower leaf nodes and at the base, right above the shallow root system. It a member of the Impatiens genus and like the impatiens that are commonly used for landscaping they have a hollow stalk. The flowers, which are yellow or orange, are the best identifying features for the plant.

Click the thumbnails below for to view larger images of the jewelweed plant.

Jewelweed plant

Jewelweed plant

Jewelweed stalk and leaf close-up

Jewelweed stalk and leaf

Jewelweed flower - yellow

Jewelweed flower – yellow

Jewelweed root

Jewelweed root

Jewelweed is invasive, and in colder parts of the country it’s annual, and so you shouldn’t have any qualms about pulling the plant out of the ground when you find it. Since the plant starts to wilt soon after you pick it, immediately refrigerate or freeze the plants you don’t use for treatment.

If you’re unable to locate a convenient source of jewelweed, you can buy seeds to plant. When choosing a planting location, avoid riverbeds and hillsides because the shallow root system will lead to accelerated erosion in those areas.

Homemade Jewelweed Poison Ivy Remedies

You can make a poison ivy remedy from jewelweed by:

  1. crushing a stalk and rubbing the juice on the poison ivy rash. This offers immediate but short-term relief.
  2. chopping the stalks and leaves, boiling them water for 5-10 minutes, straining the liquid and freezing it in ice cube trays. I didn’t try this because this treatment would not travel well.
  3. making a soap. I didn’t try this either because I don’t have soap making supplies.
  4. infusing the stalk and leaves in witch hazel. This is my favorite solution because you don’t have to touch the rash to apply it. Also, witch hazel is an astringent so it helps dry the oils that often accompany a poison ivy rash.
  5. making a salve. This works as well as the spray. Use grapeseed oil which will act as an astringent.

According to a co-worker who had poison ivy the week after mine went away, applying either the jewelweed spray or salve tingled initially and gave him immediate itch relief that lasted for about 4 hours. My experience was the same with the salve, I didn’t actually get to try the jewelweed spray on my poison ivy because the first recipe I tried recommended infusing the witch hazel for 2 weeks and the rash was gone by then. I later discovered that you only need to infuse it for 12-24 hours.

My recipe for the Jewelweed Poison Ivy Itch Relief Spray below. If you are interested in the jewelweed salve recipe, you can view it here.

Buying Jewelweed Poison Ivy Remedies

If you don’t want to make your own poison ivy treatment you can buy Jewelweed Herbal TinctureWiseWays Herbals Itch Free Salve or Burt’s Bees Poison Ivy Soap on Amazon, or you can look for it at your local farmer’s market. In Pittsburgh, jewelweed spray can be found at the East End Food Co-op.

Nicole knows making small changes for the greener add up over time and hopes you’re inspired to make some changes of your own after reading her articles. She focuses on easy, green, homemade personal products and green living tips for city dwellers. Nicole lives in Pittsburgh, PA and you can find her on twitter at @_nlg_.

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11 Comments

Join the conversation and post a comment.

  1. Tamara

    I am harvesting my jewelweed today and am looking into the different ways of making it up. I did the soap a few years ago & it worked great, but I like the idea of a spray or salve. Thanks for the spray recipe. Do you mind sharing your salve recipe too?
    Thanks again!

  2. Nicole

    I will write it up the salve recipe and post it later this weekend!

  3. Teresa

    Nicole – I am highly allergic to poison ivy and am honestly nervous to go and forage for the jewelweed – is there another way to get the jewelweed without having to pick it yourself? I would love to make your salve recipe but am at a loss.

    Any help would be greatly appreciated!

    • Tamara

      I ordered a few plants from ebay & planted them in a safe spot on my property. Now they grow wild around the house which isgreat for me. There were several benefits to this, one being I didn’t have to go hunting for seeds & plants which I might get covered with poison ivy…

    • Nicole

      I agree with Tamara, planting seeds in a safe place on your property is the best option, however, you should be aware of is that jewelweed is a very invasive plant. The shallow root system leads to accelerated erosion along riverbeds and on hillsides. If this is a concern be diligent about collecting the seeds to keep the plant from spreading and consider netting plants to keep birds from carrying away the seeds and depositing them in other areas of your yard, Seeds are also sold on Amazon (http://amzn.to/1049OLI) and Etsy (http://etsy.me/vxClZB). Good luck!

  4. audrey724

    Thanks so much for posting this, going to harvest some jewelweed today. How long does the spray last before going bad?

    • Nicole

      It depends on where you keep it. Usually when I have poison ivy I carry my spray with me so it’s not refrigerated and lasts 3 weeks to a month. Keeping it in the fridge between uses will help it it fresher, longer. Or if you make it in anticipation of getting poison ivy, keep it in the fridge until needed.

  5. Jennifer at Purposeful Nutrition

    If you want to make it for next spring could you dry the jewelweed and then infuse it in the spring right before poison ivy season?

    • Nicole

      Unfortunately a dried up jewelweed plant isn’t useful. It’s the enzymes in the juice of the jewelweed that you need. Freezing would be a more viable option if you are trying to preserve the plants until spring.

  6. K2Crest

    There is no need to get poison ivy rash in the first place. Water weed (Jewel Weed/Impatiens capensis) also prevents one from contacting/contracting poison ivy. I learned as a Boy Scout to crush water weed by rolling the stalks between my hands and smearing the juice on all exposed skin, including face, neck, and hands before entering the woods. It provides protection against getting poison ivy rash. I can attest from 60+ years of camping, picnicking, hiking, hunting in poison ivy country, water weed works!!!

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