Poison ivy. Image source: Pixabay.com
If you are an avid outdoorsman or an avid camper, it is very likely that you have come into contact with the infamous poison ivy plant at one time or another.
Consequently, you are undoubtedly aware of just how miserable the swelling, irritation and incessant itching the oils that this plant exudes can make you. In fact, it can ruin your entire outdoor adventure! But fear not and venture forth with confidence, because nature has a cure for what ails you.
The three most effective and most abundant natural cures in the wilderness for poison ivy – or its cousin, poison oak – are:
- Tap root of the wild burdock plant (serves as a natural antiseptic).
- Witch hazel bush (serves as a natural astringent).
- Jewelweed (serves as a natural cure).
While most of us can see and recognize large, hairy vines growing vigorously up the sides of trees and realize that they are a poison ivy vines, many outdoorsman are unaware that this plant also likes to grow in small patches of ground, hugging plants that commonly reach a height of one to two feet and, of course, display the signature, spear-shaped, tri-foil, leaves.
Because these plants exude an oil (urushiol — which is what irritates the skin and causes the rash) in order to defend itself from predatory insects, your first line of defense after coming into contact should be to get to a source of water where you can wash it off of your skin. But most of us are so absorbed by our surroundings that we are blissfully unaware that we have come into contact with this infamous plant until the rash appears, a different remedy is required.
Wild burdock is a biennial plant common in Asia, England and North America and appears as a flower approximately two to two and a half feet tall, growing in open fields and, when mature, displays beneath the flowers round seed pods covered with small spikes designed to cling to fur or fabric. It’s a “free ride” in order to disperse their seeds. To use this plant as a cure for poison ivy, start by digging up several of the tap roots and then boil them in water for 20 to 30 minutes. Next, remove the roots and allow the infusion to cool. Soak a cloth in the infusion and apply it to the affected area for five to seven minutes and repeat this process every two hours.
Witch hazel. Image source: Pixabay.com
Another effective natural cure for poison ivy is the witch hazel plant, which is a deciduous shrub or small tree common in North America. To create a cure for poison ivy using witch hazel, start by harvesting either a portion of the tree’s bark or some of its leaves and boil it/them in water for approximately 30 minutes. Then, remove the bark or leaves from the water and allow the resulting infusion to cool. Soak the infusion up with a cloth and apply it to the affected area whenever the rash starts to itch.
Although wild burdock and witch hazel do work and are certainly better than nothing at all, nature’s most effective cure for poison ivy is a plant called jewelweed (aka spotted touch-me-not), which seems to serve as a natural antidote for poison ivy. In fact, it commonly grows right alongside patches of poison ivy! It is predominately found east of the Rocky Mountains but does occur incidentally further west.
Wild burdock prefers to grow in shady spots where there is moist, sandy, well-drained, soil, and therefore, you will find it in lowlands, wetlands and fens, and adjacent to streams, ponds, lakes and bogs. Jewelweed appears as a smooth annual flower that grows three to five feet in height and has oval leaves with serrated edges. The funnel-shaped flowers are suspended from a single stem and appear yellow with red spots.
But unlike both wild burdock and witch hazel, which have to be boiled to create an infusion, to use jewelweed as a cure for poison ivy all you have to do is harvest and crush the plant and then spread the resulting expressed juice directly onto the rash five or six times a day for five days or until the rash subsides. Therefore, not only is this natural remedy significantly easier to prepare and apply than the other two remedies, but many people have described nearly miraculous results when using this plant to cure poison ivy. In fact, it is so effective at curing the rash caused by poison ivy that some local, hometown drug stores actually carry a soap containing an infusion of this plant.
So, the next time you find yourself suffering from poison ivy while enjoying the great outdoors, give one of nature’s all-natural cures a try.
What all-natural cures for poison ivy do you use? Share your tips in the section below:
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