Try That Herb Tuesday- Jewel Weed

While most people use jewel weed to neutralize poison Ivy (actually to be more specific, it's the oily antigen, urushiol, that causes the irritation), 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. 

Often called the "touch me not" impatient it is botanically known as Impatiens Capensis, and is 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 really true. Poison ivy can grow well under most any conditions, sunny or shady. But jewel weed is a shade loving plant, one 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 use jewel weed, but drying it is not practical because it has a very high moisture content. For this reason, the soaps, salves and sprays  made from this herb are made from either the fresh or from frozen jewel weed. 

One of the easiest ways to benefit from this flower is simply to take the stem and slice it, then slather the juice onto the skin that has come into contact with poison ivy. If you get it applied before the rash appears, it will generally 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 though, not the yellow. The yellow is less concentrated, and will probably not offer you the relief you are looking for. A fresh plant will last about a week in a sealed container when placed in the refrigerator, or you can make an infusion and freeze it for later use. 

To make an infusion, boil the leaves of the plant. Brew the 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. 


Marie said...

Any idea on how long I would process the fresh juice in a pint mason jar in the pressure canner? Guess it's considered a low acid juice, right? Any tips are greatly appreciated! Thanks, Marie

Unique Garden said...

I am sorry Marie, I do not know how long the canning should processed, just that it can be stored that way. I would say that it is certainly a low acid, but you may be able to get more info from an old canning manual. It would be the same category as other herbal teas/infusions. Since it is technically not a juice, but is a tea or infusion, I would follow the times for a broth if you cannot find herbal info.
Sorry I can't be of more help, I just do the freezer and save my canning for pickles!