Jewelweed Salve: Natural Treatment for Poison Ivy

| 7/26/2013 1:03:00 PM

For about 1 million years now getting poison ivy has been a drag. (Okay, maybe the very species, Toxicodendron radicans, hasn’t been creeping around that long, but you get the idea.)

Treatment For Poison Ivy
Toxicodendron radicans has itchy results. Treat its skin rash with a jewelweed salve.

My First Introduction to Poison Ivy

I remember twenty-something years ago the first time I got poison ivy. I’d just bought my beautiful log cabin atop a mountain in the Hudson Valley, and my woody acre abutted 3,000 acres of virgin forest owned by an art preserve (sigh). Oak trees, periwinkle and hostas waking up for spring, sassafras holding fast, and lovely little columbine bowing her head in. My calico kitten Ra had revved up her purring, hunting and exploring, helping me with the wild hydrangea and strong-willed wisteria, and I was sure we were both in heaven. (As soon as I planted the catnip, Ra was in cat heaven.)

So, being a tenacious gardener with shiny new gardening tools in my hot little hands, I started to clear my acre of all the riffraff. With visions of herb beds dancing in my head, I tore out old foliage like a new national policy was being enacted. Yeah, I’d seen a picture of poison ivy, but we’d never been formally introduced.  The poison ivy didn’t wait for the introduction.

About the third day of my gung ho gardening, I’d reached my sweaty and sooty quota for the afternoon and headed indoors. “Puffy pink stuff” starting appearing on my arm and let me tell you—only the devil creates that kind of itching.

I ran back outside to examine the pile of dug up leaves and vines I’d dumped in the compost pile. Lying low and hardly smiling, there lay some skimpy little vines with anonymous tri-leaf edges. Uh-oh. By now the itching was viciously creeping up my arm, so I ran back in the house and jumped into the shower. Thinking I was smart, I scrubbed my arm with a nice almond face scrub to "rub off” the ivy contact. BIG MISTAKE. Being a City Girl, I hadn’t grown up with a lifetime of folks spinning yarns and trading poultices to soothe this savage beast.

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