Monday, May 21, 2012

Poison Ivy Remedy–Easy!

In the early 90’s we listened to Bertha Reppert, founder of The Rosemary House talking about some simple home remedies, and within a few days, several of the actors at the Renaissance Festival where we had an herb shop showed up covered with poison ivy.  Bertha had talked about steeping sage in apple cider vinegar, and we’d gone home and started a batch.  It was very effective for the poor sweaty, suffering actors, and we were impressed.  This couldn’t be simpler, and is just wonderful as is.  Just fill a jar with sage from the garden (or grocery store) and cover with vinegar.  If you’re in a hurry, heat the vinegar and steep the sage in it as you would an herbal tea.
The following year we added plantain and jewelweed to the original brew, to add even more healing properties to the vinegar.  We’ve used it ever since.
I just made a quart up today.
The ingredients are shown below.ingredients

If you don’t have or know how to identify jewelweed, her cousin – garden impatiens is a good stand-in.  We like to harvest jewelweed in the spring while the stems are succulent and full of juice.  After it flowers, the stems get woody and aren’t worth much.  Some people like to harvest the leaves and flowers after it blooms, but this is how we do it.cut jewelweed
The sage we grow here is Bergarten, which has a very high essential oil content.  That’s really what we want to come through in the vinegar, so any garden sage is fine, but we like this one.  In a pinch, you can even use the dried stuff in the spice aisle at the grocery store, but fresh will have more punch.sage
Even city dwellers most likely have plantain in their midst.  Plantain is exceptional for skin irritations, bug bites and stings, and all kinds of rashes.  We have both types here, the long strappy lanceolata, and the large major, and use them interchangeably.plantain
All of the plants are chopped up and placed into the jar.  Cutting them up (or even placing them into a blender with a little vinegar to get it going) helps release their properties into the vinegar.
filled jar
After all the plant matter is chopped and placed into the jar, it is covered with vinegar.  I reserved some large plantain leaves and some jewelweed stems.  The plant matter is carefully covered with the leaves, and then the stems are inserted in such a way as to hold everything below the surface.  Be careful not to enclose air pockets under the leaves, of jar
All ready to sit and age for a couple of weeks.  It is perfectly fine to leave everything as it is until needed.
Then, just strain it out and apply to any area that has been exposed to poison ivy (preferably before a rash appears!).  It stings slightly when applied, but will really help dry up a rash in a hurry.
The other best remedy is to learn how to identify poison ivy and avoid it. 
We make a soap with jewelweed, plantain, and the essential oils of lavender and tea tree that works well after exposure = Happy Wanderer Soap
and also have the vinegar spray on our website, but we’re very happy to encourage you to make it yourself.


*Ulrike* said...

Thank goodness for this post! I have seen a lot of poison ivy lately, and it is only a matter of time before I get into it. I also use the inside of a banana peel for the rash which will clear it up fast too. My dad's cousin is a surveyor, and he got into some poison ivy. The other men in the group told him to go down to the store, get some bananas, and apply the inside of the peel to the area. It works! Now I have two ways I can treat it. Thanks!

Donna and Miss Spenser said...

How husband is highly allergic to it; will have to get some brewed up soon!!

I sure wish I could have met Bertha...what a lady!


Anonymous said...

Wow! Thanks for the information.

alix said...

What about for poison oak?? Thanks :)

Tina Sams said...

Yes - they both produce the same rash and both respond to this remedy!

nettlejuice said...

I made a batch of witch hazel infused with jewelweed, plantain and virginia creeper and I use that to make a poultice with green clay and peppermint essential oil for poison ivy. I never realized sage was great too. I'll have to try that soon. There is always someone getting it around here.

Anonymous said...

This looks like a really useful concoction to have around especially now that the weather is warmer and people can go out hiking. The only downside I can see is the vinegar smell on the skin, but if it works fast, then it's worth it. But as you said, the best treatment is avoidance.

Tina Sams said...

The vinegar smell doesn't last very long, and it's worth it :-)

Candace Collins said...

Any suggestions on how to kill the poison ivy plant?

Hagen University said...

I wish I would of found this a couple of weeks ago. My husband has it all over. I will have him try the banana for right now. I will also make a batch for the future. How long is the jar good for? or does it work?

Tina Sams said...

Well... I wouldn't bother making it over and over if it didn't work :-)
The vinegar is a great preservative, so it can last for a few years.

Cristina da Silva said...

Thank you so much! Although I don't come into contact with poison ivy to often, I do get hives when I accidentally eat gluten (I am celiac). I am going to try the brew for the dermatitis herpiformis (DM). Fingers crossed!

Anonymous said...

This is most helpful. What happens if I can't get an air pocket out? Will this ruin the vinegar?

Tina Sams said...

Well that's hard to say, depending on how big it is, whether it's been drenched with vinegar, etc - but if you slide a knife down you should be able to release the air. Or just give it a good shake.

Anonymous said...

Dear Tina,

Thank you for your answer. I'm going to to pick the herbs now!

jemkagily said...

Does this need to be stored in the refrigerator or is okay at room temperature?

Tina Sams said...

The vinegar is an adequate preservative, so no refrigeration is required.

Anonymous said...

I know it's not natural but...

A dermatologist told me long before they were available over the counter... take Zyrtec. One pill before the bumps turn to blisters. Or, when you're exposed. It has never failed to work for me.

I'm very allergic to it, too... and the little pills have saved me countless times.

Another thought - if you're very allergic to PI - avoid mangos too. Similar oils are found in the skin of the fruit and is often referred to as "mango mouth".

Anonymous said...

One gallon white vinegar (distilled) One cup of table salt, two tablespoons regular blue Dawn dish soap. Spray leaves and vine. You may need to reapply if it rains soon after. Once it is dead chop the roots with a hatchet. Wear protection.

Just a reminder... Never burn poison ivy.

Janet Smith said...

I make a salve of Coconut oil, plantain leaves and bees wax which works great for Poison Ivy, diaper rash, bug bites, scrapes, skinned knees, shingles, eczema name it, it works great.

I cook plantain leaves in coconut oil over indirect heat...a double boiler method with a small crock pot of hot water and a small pan which hold the 1 cup of oil and 30 or 40 plantain leaves. I keep hot water in there and cook until the leaves are totally spent...(dried out and brittle) usually 7 or 8 hours. Remove spent Plantain leaves. Add 2 T of Bees wax. Melt that into the mixture and pour into small jars. I keep a jar around all the time and give them to friends when they need it.


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