While I have posted on this topic before, it is quickly becoming that time of year again, so it bears repeating. If you have ever spent the night scratching away after you have been camping, out for a walk in the country, or even after petting you dog, you may know what I am getting at. The dreaded poison ivy (poison oak or poison sumac are very similar). You can also get a reaction to poison ivy if a log that had it growing on it (at one time) is burned in a fireplace or a bonfire. Don't ask me how I know this! Lol

But nature has given us the perfect antagonist for poison ivy. It is often called the "touch me not" impatient, botanically known as Impatiens Capensis, and commonly known as Jewel WeedJewel weed produces trumpet-shaped flowers, which bloom from early summer to fall. They are under an inch in length and have three petals. One of the petals curls, to form a long slipper, or sack shaped spur. They come in a variety of colors and like to grow near water or in shallow ponds. It's been said that jewel weed grows wherever Poison Ivy is found, but that isn't true. Poison ivy can grow well under most any condition (just like a pest, aye?), be it sunny or shady. However, jewel weed is a shade loving plant, that prefers valleys with rich soil and moist bottom lands. It may sprout in a sunny area, but it will not survive for long in the light. 

There are many ways to utilize jewel weed, but drying it is not practical, as it has a very high moisture content. For this reason, the soaps, salves and sprays that are made from this herbal, are made from fresh or frozen jewel weed. 

One of the simplest ways to benefit from this flower is simply to take the stem, slice it, and slather the juice onto skin that has come into contact with poison ivy. If you get it applied before a rash appears, it generally will prevent any from developing. If you already have a rash, it will help to ease the irritation. In fact, many people use the stem juice as a preventative treatment for poison ivy reactions, and it seems to work well.

When foraging, make sure that you are looking for the orange flowering jewel weed, not the yellow, as the yellow is less concentrated and will probably not offer you the relief you are looking for.
The fresh plant lasts about a week in a sealed container, in the refrigerator. 

You can make an infusion by boiling the leaves of the plant, and can even freeze it for later use. Brew chopped jewel weed leaves in boiling water, until you get a dark orange liquid in your pot. Then strain the liquid, and pour it into ice cube trays. Then, when you have a skin rash, just grab out a cube and rub the affected area with your "jewel cube". It will keep in the freezer for up to one year, or you can preserve the infusion by canning it (in a pressure cooker). 

You can make a tincture with witch hazel and the jewel weed juice or the infusion previously described. Preparing the tincture in witch hazel will help to prevent mold growth, if you want to keep some jewel juice unfrozen. 

If you want to make soap with the jewel weed, either make an infusion to incorporate as your liquid, or you can just use the jewel ice in place of all or a portion of your liquid. 

You can also make jewel weed ointment. Simply simmer a small amount of jewel weed in a light vegetable oil (do not use olive oil) for 10-15 minutes. Use only a small handful of jewel weed stems per quart of oil, or bubbles of the juice will form in the ointment, and they will cause mold. When time is up, strain out the herb and add a handful of beeswax, to thicken it, and heat until it is melted. Take out a spoonful and allow it to cool, to test the thickness. Add either more oil or more beeswax until it is the consistency that you prefer. Once it is just right for you, remove from the heat and pierce 2 gel caps of vitamin E, and add the contents of one oil-soluble vitamin E capsule, pour into a jar, and allow it to completely cool (with the lid off).

Whatever you do, do NOT make alcoholic tinctures from Jewel weed. Some people have had very bad reactions when mixing and using jewel weed with alcohol. 

While most people use jewel weed to neutralize the poison Ivy's oily antigen, urushiol, it is also an effective remedy for poison oak, okra spines, stinging nettle, bug bites, heat rash, and other irritating plant reactions and other skin disorders. For more than a hundred years, a poultice made from this plant was frequently used to treat burns, cuts, sores, sprains, warts, eczema, and even ringworm. SO try it for the poison ivy and get back to nature's remedy!  

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