Jim Fain Leaves of three - leave them be! This is the time of the year to be on the look out for Poison Ivy and Oak. While these shrubs do not bother some people, many find they make summertime miserable. The oil from the shiny leaves or stems or smoke from burning the roots can cause ugly, itchy blisters on the skin that can be spread by scratching, using a washcloth or by taking baths.
Jewelweed (Impatiens biflora) has a few other common names such as Wild Balsam, Spotted Touch-Me-Not, Slipperweed, Silverweed, Wild Lad's Slipper, Speckled Jewels and Quick-in-the-Hand. It is not commercially available from any major company as it is mostly considered a weed.
The brilliance of Mother Nature shines through as Jewelweed typically grows next to Poison Ivy/Oak. The old ones would grab a bunch, scruntch it up and rub it on hands and legs as a preventative. Science supports this as the oils and compounds in Jewelweed serve as a preventative and antidote. Trouble is you had to be Daniel Boone to find the herb. Until now!
A wise good ol' boy from down in Marshall started experimenting on his family with a homemade soap infused with Jewelweed. You see, his family, living out in the hills, would suffer the misery every year from clearing fence posts and brush. He remembered something about Jewelweed and started adding it to his lye soap. Worked like a charm, so he began making it for sale. Wash before you go out and after you come back in, he says in his instructions. Like I said, works like a charm.
Poison Ivy/Oak often can be avoided but sometimes exposure happens by accident. In addition to the Jewelweed soap, suggestions for dealing with exposure include the homeopathic Rhus Tox X6, Oregon Grape Root tea or Chamomile tea as a wash, and baking soda as a powder to dry the blisters. Quercetin works well to reduce itch. If the exposure is severe or in a delicate part of the body, prompt medical care is a very good thing. Wash by taking cool showers.