My father never got poison ivy! He would rip it out for the family and the neighbors with his hands…but never once did he get it!
On the other hand, we 4 children got horrible cases from our faces to our ankles and never have lost the tendency to “just look at it and start itchin”.
I have discovered (over the years and through research) some simple ways to nurse the victims of this horrible, unbearable, miserable, agonizing, and yes, maybe even sleep-depriving condition.
Things That Really Work:
1.) Eat raw local honey ~ just as it is has been shown that regularly eating 1 tsp. – 1 Tbsp./day of local raw honey can lessen the effects of local pollen-driven allergies, so some believe that local honey can lessen the severity of a case of local poison ivy before you even get it. Build up some immunity during the summer in a totally non-pharmaceutical way.
2.) Clay and essential oils~ I have made a variety of lotions and drawing poultices since our children were little. They were all based on clay with one or more essential oils. Peppermint may seem an unlikely essential oil for PI, but the menthol it contains relieves much of the painful burning and itching that accompanies the rash. Lavender is very calming to the skin helping with itch and the nervousness it causes.
- any good clay (draws out toxins) such as Bentonite …just enough to make a paste that is not too stiff and not too runny. Start with 1 heaping TBSP and add more clay for larger amount.
- just enough purified water to make a good consistency. Add only a small amount at a time to the clay. Observe the texture as you mix.
- 1/4 tsp. sea salt (antiseptic and preservative) Start with 1/4 tsp. and work up…aids in drying up the blisters
- 8 drops essential oil of lavender (a preservative) (Start with 8 drops…)
- 4 drops essential oil of peppermint (Start with 4 drops…)
*Note: making a clay-based remedy is not an exact science. The most important thing is the ingredients in proportion and the texture you want. If you need a lot of coverage for a serious case, use more clay, add water gradually, and don’t be afraid of adding a little more of the other ingredients; if it for a small jar to daub on irritating spots, use the minimums listed above. God has blessed Mamas with some amazing intuitive powers! All these ingredients are totally safe, so experiment and have fun!
Mix together until creamy. Store in a small glass container in the refrigerator. Apply as needed to poison ivy, poison oak, poison sumac, sores or insect bites. This lotion works quickly and effectively, and it is very cooling.
*You can add 1 drop of essential oil of rosemary and/or tea tree to a small amount to dab on bites, splinters, or acne. A good, inexpensively priced clay is found at the Bulk Herb Store or Amazon. You can also find: ~tins for salves ~tincture bottles ~Redmond Real Salt ~capsules ~beeswax for making cosmetics ~ raw honey in the Accessory Section. Mountain Rose Herbs also has a nice accessory selection.
The Bulk Herb Store is a treasure-trove of really cool things for the budding herbalist!! Learning these remedies and teaching your children will preserve these practical old-time homesteading and survival skills.
More Tried and True Remedies For Poison Ivy
3.) Oatmeal baths~ For more widespread cases, oatmeal baths are a time-tested aid. Many old-timers also like to add 1 cup of lavender Epsom salts to the hot bath water. It is 100% magnesium sulfate…very calming to mind and body, and helpful before bedtime to relax the itching.
You can purchase Aveeno colloidal oatmeal in a box of single use packages. For those of us into preparedness, it is nice to have a small supply on hand kept in a zip-lock bag to prevent moisture and moths. It has a very long shelf life.
4.) Burt’s Bees Poison Ivy Soap~ This wonderful soap contains Jewelweed to help relieve itching and irritation. Wash the affected area with the soap, rinse, then wash again and leave the lather on your skin and let it dry for long-lasting relief. Ingredients: vegetable soap base, kaolin, avena sativa (oat) kernel protein, melaleuca alternifolia (tea tree) leaf oil, pinus palustris (pine) wood tar, impatiens balsamina (jewelweed) extract.
The bar has a masculine scent (pine) w/o perfumes.
5.) Jewelweed is an old Native American Indian herbal remedy that works by counter-acting with the chemicals in plants that cause irritation. If you find it in the wild, you can brew the chopped leaves of Jewelweed in boiling water until you get a dark orange liquid. Strain the liquid and pour it into ice cube trays. When you have a skin rash, rub it with the jewelweed cube, and you will be amazed at its healing. It will keep for a year frozen.
If you have a wet spot, you could grow jewelweed. It needs bog-like conditions. I located some seed here.
I found a small patch a half mile from our home and hope to make a salve with it soon. Isn’t it pretty?
6.) Avoid poison ivy in the first place~ Both our sons had to perform in an important piano recital on day 4 of a severe case of PI. They were using hatchets on huge vines while making a tree fort in a giant oak tree. At their ages, they should have known better!! It taught them a lesson they will never forget! Poison ivy leaves turn red in autumn.
“My son, do not forget my teachings, and keep my commands in mind, because they will bring you long life, good years, and peace.” ~Proverbs 3: 1-2
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Thanks for reading!